I'm content to appreciate and discuss the cab collections of others on the occasional day off garage-hobby day. I can appreciate a completely restored stand-alone single-game cab and the techniques that went into making it happen. It just isn't for me to collect and maintain. Let alone get into the individual personality of each machine - of which thousands can be stored and saved in a chip no bigger than this [-].
To me a cabinet is a cabinet. A structure. A container to pre-position a set of controls, speakers, and CRT smack-dab in your face with the express purpose of taking money out your pocket. None of these cabs were constructed with the betterment of you as a person in mind.
However let me clarify my position on multicades. They should be elegant, and attention to detail should be attended to every step of the way. Right down to moldings and screen fitting. They also shouldn't try to be all games for all people. That's just tacky and never turns out well. First order of business with a multicade is getting a handle on messy control panels full of buttons. That's just gotta go.
My preferred method of playing the classics still remains a state-of-the-art emulation machine, a small set top box and whatever size screen/monitor fits the mood. And of course ergonomic arcade-quality controls for each of my favorite games - which can be anywhere from a mouse/keyboard to an arcade-like panel with Spinner, Fire, and SuperZapper.
I also believe that bartop multicades (of all sizes) have a kind of a cute appeal. They're the baby version of the big bad arcade cabinets of yore. And in the spirit of multicades - this winter - I'm thinking of a new project. Something like a bartop sans the control panel. You have to have modular controls because many games are so different, Assault, Star Wars, Centipede, and Tempest.. Each really needs its own controller and layout. One layout simply does not work. Anything beyond a combination of 2 or 3 sets of controls becomes a cluttered mess.
So right now I'm thinking along the lines of a hypothetical Super Vectrex. Perhaps 2x larger in all dimensions. Powersupply, system boards, display, LCD marquee, speakers, all in the main unit.. along with a comprehensive set of connections for any conceivable control arrangement - PC USB and PS/2, IPAC, DB9 & BlissBox connectivity, mouse and keyboard, and whatever else might be practical. With such an array of interface options, controllers would never be an issue.
Someone mentioned classic radios. People from the "Maker society" are scooping them up and gutting them, replacing the tubes and stuff and all the internals with modern day electronics. Sometimes even repurposing them into computers and routers and god knows what else.
That's bastardized! These radios were crafted in X manner. To serve a purpose in the home, combining style and aesthetics and performance. A synergistic whole. A kind of pride and craftsmanship that isn't exhibited in all products, and certainly not any consumer product today.
Not even arcade cabinets fall into this category. And if you argue it does, ok. But I just don't see it. Arcade cabinets, like cartridges, were a means to an end. A way of housing and containing a commercial amusement device whose sole purpose was to drain your wallet.
I also argue the point that emulators are a labor of love, moreso than any one individual arcade game cab, because of all the time and detail and reverse engineering that goes into them. Consider grand projects spanning decades, like MAME. There is no apparent motive here other than to showcase one's programming skills and present games in a playable manner. MAME isn't out there to collect your money. MAME isn't out there to subvert the coin-op industry. MAME is like a topical medication that soothes the itch of nostalgia.