Fit and Finish
The Dream Arcades cabinet feels like a quality product. The fit and finish is excellent, and the unit assembles to create a clean, solid, arcade-authentic appearance. Lots of nice design touches can be found throughout the cabinet, from the adjustable monitor shelf and the protective grill over the cooling fan, to the lockable service door and the velcro "latch" used to secure the top panel when closed.
I found some additional new improvements in this cab, such as the new hinges used for both the service door and the cabinet top. These new hinges, which replace the piano hinges used previously, are much more steady and solid. In addition, they prevent the top panel from opening too far and putting stress on the hinge.
"Sturdy" seems to be a good overall theme for this cab. While it goes together quickly, it feels like a solid unit once assembled. Add in the weight of the PC and monitor, and it truly feels like a piece of furniture.
The control panel, as well, feels sturdy. I suspect it will be able to handle a lot of use (and abuse). The layout, while snug for two adults, is unique for a cocktail cab and also provides for two-joystick action for single-player games such as Robotron (yes, I always give bonus points to a Robotron-ready gaming system ;-)
One design decision that I'm not especially enamored of is the use of 1/8" plexiglass for the top. While I understand the need to keep costs low, at the least I feel it should at least be 1/4" plexi, and a tempered smoked glass top would be best of all. Luckily, Dream Arcades is now offering a tempered glass top as an upgrade option for $65. In my opinion, this is money well spent.
The Dream Arcades side-by-side cabinet is currently selling for $649, which is a great price for this cabinet.
As a complete system with with PC mentioned in this review, it sells for $899, which is a great price for a "starter" MAME system: everything you need for less than a grand The PC included is underwhelming by today's standards, but for the price it's a good starting point. If you want a more powerful system, Dream Arcades sells a version of their cab with an Athlon 2000+ system with a 20GB hard drive for $1399.
In the end, for $899, I'm willing to forgive the rather anemic nature of the included PC: it's adequate as a starter system. I'm still inclined to recommend you get a higher-spec computer, since a MAME enthusiast is going to quickly want more from his system than the included PC can deliver, but if your budget is tight, this is the best deal going for an "all-in-one" MAME cab solution. If you've got more cash, either opt for the Athlon 2000+ version of the table or just buy the cabinet kit and get your own PC. Either way, you're going to be happy with this cabinet. Recommended by RetroBlast.