So I was about to retract my earlier criticism of DHL and all things German, but they've gone and given me reason to hate them again. In fairness, it seems that the "extra" €34 I paid for my shipment was actually the cost of the case that I had ordered from them, and nothing else. They had sent my case and motherboard in separate shipments, and had sent it COD. My bad. The case arrived on Tuesday, and I began wondering why I hadn't heard anything about the mobo. After couple unanswered emails to Primus Online, where I ordered the stuff, I finally broke down today and called them. Once I got to talk to someone who spoke English, they explained that my package had been "refused" on delivery and sent back for restocking. No hint as to why this happened, but it seems likely that DHL screwed up and didn't contact me for payment like they did with the case, and instead sent it packing back to Germany. :( To add pain to misery, the mobo is no longer carried by them, so they can't send me a replacement! Nevermind the fact that they weren't even going to bother informing me that my order was now never going to arrive. Yes, say it with me now, damn Germans. All this causes me to wax nostalgiac that if the shipment had gone through I would have likely got the mobo exactly today, and would now be playing with my new toy. On the other hand, I didn't end up paying anything for shipping, and got a fairly decent (though a bit loud) micro-ATX for only €34. So all that I've really lost is time.
I now also have the opportunity to reassess whether I would prefer to wait for the Soltek SL-855GEI-FDGR, or order another AOpen from somewhere else. The only real urgency is that I'd like to test out the Celeron M chip that I bought on EBay.de and arrived taped inside a CD jewel case with no protective packaging other than some packing tape (yes, damn Germans). These mobile chips are notoriously sensitive, so I'm a bit worried something might have happened to it en route.
I've also had no luck finding anyone who sells the "optional" SPDIF module for the AOPen board, while the Soltek sensibly has it built-in. As always, I'll keep you posted.