AeroCool PowerWatch

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AeroCool PowerWatch

At first glance, AeroCool’s PowerWatch front-panel display looks like every computer enthusiast’s worst nightmare. Admittedly, the display itself is pleasing to the eye, but the back of the device looks like two octopi trying to leg wrestle. It’s a tangled mess of cords, cables, connectors, and prongs that’s sure to bring ruination to anyone’s wire-hidden case.

But if you can stomach a bit of extra work to make your rig’s insides look pretty, the PowerWatch makes for an awesome addition to your case. Hardware-wise, the PowerWatch comes with two PoweredUSB ports—enhanced USB ports that deliver extra juice to USB devices that might otherwise require a power brick. Of course, there’s a catch. PoweredUSB was developed independently of the USB Implementer’s Forum, and we have yet to test a single device that uses the rebel port. But you can still plug in normal USB devices, and the PowerWatch also comes with front-panel support for a bazillion different memory cards: CF, SM, MS, SD, and others.

The real meat of the PowerWatch is its glowing information panel, a multicolored, circular LCD that is the brightest display we’ve seen in quite a while. From a variety of angles, you can clearly see critical information displayed on the panel, which is broken into three sections: alarm temperatures, fan speeds, and component temperatures.

Our biggest criticism of the PowerWatch stems from how it collects this information. While fan speeds come from a typical three-prong connector, the device relies on thermal probes for all of its temperature measurements. If you’ve ever worked with one of these little plastic devices, you’ll understand our frustration; the probe has to be placed with great precision, and even then its readings aren’t the most accurate imaginable. Still, even a janky probe is better than nothing, so we can’t fault AeroCool that much.

Although we still question what one might use the PoweredUSB ports for and wish that AeroCool would have provided more connectors than just simple USB (eSATA or FireWire for starters), this is still one of the finer front-panel accessories we’ve seen.

Neutral Milk Hotel

Pleasing and useful display. USB ports and memory card reader a plus.

Bates Motel

No FireWire. No eSata. What's a PoweredUSB port?  Janky probes.

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Baer

This unit looks great but it has some flaws. First of all it CANNOT be easily read at all angles, you almost have to look atraight at it. The temp probes are way too short, I know that makes it more accurate but if the probe can not reach anything what good is it? The USB input cables are also somewhat short, if you have a big case like mine then you will have to extend them. One final comment, be careful you do not acidentally pull any of the plugs out, they are difficult to re plug in if the unit is installed in a case.
Having said that, it looks great, it works well. I give it a solid 7.

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