This month, we also reviewed the larger of iControl’s two starter kits, which consists of a wireless camera, a motion detector, an Intermatic Z-Wave lamp module, a door/window detector, a motion detector, a keychain remote, and a control module that plugs into your wireless router.
We nearly slapped WiLife’s Spy Camera Starter Kit with a Geek Tested: Disapproved label when we checked it out in our May 2007 issue. The camera was poorly disguised in the massive body of a fugly digital clock. But the company’s software was so impressive that we called in its Indoor Camera Starter Kit ($300) and an add-on outdoor camera ($230) for a full review. Each of WiLife’s cameras uses HomePlug powerline networking, so you need only plug the cameras into wall outlets, hook a USB receiver to your PC, and install the software. We had a two-camera system up and working within 15 minutes.
It’s hard to look at Thermaltake’s Big Typhoon VX cooler and not think one of two things: the most horrific joke you can make about size mattering and the current market price of the Dremel you’ll need to cut a hole in your case to make room for this Godzilla of a cooler.
It's always a happy day when a new, mysterious box of unknown product arrives at the gates of Maximum PC. Specifically, my desk. Today's latest offering comes straight from Cooler Master, and it was wholly unexpected -- as we say at magazine, "surprise and delight!" Like a kid on Some Major December-ish Holiday, I tore open the packaging to find three new goodies: Cooler Master's new CM 690 chassis, a Glacier 600 cooler for ATI 2900XT video cards, and a Hydra cooler for Nvidia 8800-series cards.
When we decided to test external digital-to-analog converters (DACs) for the upgrade story in our June issue (“19 Bright Ideas: Upgrades You Didn’t Know You Needed”), we were surprised to learn that SilverStone offered one with pretty decent specs. We recommended Stereo-Link’s upscale A1300 in that story, but SilverStone’s less-expensive EB01 is a solid value. As we pointed out in the June issue, there’s a widespread misconception that digital audio is an all-or-nothing affair, and so the quality of the equipment you use to extract it doesn’t matter. It’s common knowledge, for instance, that getting audio physically off the electrically noisy motherboard results in cleaner sound, so it’s understandable that keeping audio in the digital domain until it’s entirely out of the PC would also help maintain its sonic integrity.
We reviewed Tritton’s Audio Xtreme 360 headset in our July issue. As you can tell by its model name, that device is aimed as much at console gamers as it is movie watchers and PC gamers. The AXPC is a little simpler, better suited to PC users, and nearly $50 cheaper. But it sounds just as mediocre.
When Dynapower’s Hachiman case hit the Maximum PC Lab, we were immediately taken aback by the coolness of its paint job. We’ve never been fans of anime, nor do we normally consider a case’s aesthetics during a review. That said, the Hachiman definitely gets points for looks. It’s not perfect; the paint has a bumpy, orange-peel texture, the decals don’t line up, and only half of the case’s chassis has a beautiful black undercoat. The other half is standard, butt-ugly gray.
If all the world’s computer cases were playing a game of Battlefield, then the Antec P190 would surely be one of the tanks. This thing is a monstrosity of a midtower, though functionally, it differs very little from everything else in Antec’s P-series of cases. However, this case does add improvements we’ve been dreaming of since we first laid our hands on the P180. The P190 comes with that extra bit of horizontal space that makes all the difference in the world if you rock extra-long videocards. Previous models were just too cramped—even if you weren’t using a water-cooling system.
Before you get too excited about LG’s combo optical drive, bear in mind that while the GGW-H10NI Super Multi Blue can read both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, it can write to only the former format. Still, this drive offers a degree of flexibility that no other next-gen drive we’ve tested has. You won’t be shut out of watching movies from studios that have allied themselves with just one of the high-def formats. Not surprisingly, this luxury doesn’t come cheap. At $1,200, the Super Multi Blue costs more than your average Blu-ray burner—by as much as $600.
NEC’s LCD2470WNX doesn’t offer quite as many input options as Gateway’s LCD, but it splits the difference between that monitor and the DoubleSight, with VGA, DVI, and four USB 2.0 ports. Like the other LCDs reviewed here, it provides the full range of ergo options—height, tilt, swivel, and rotate. The OSD, for its part, is fairly simple to navigate and includes the same variety of options whether you’re using the digital or analog interface. What’s more, it doesn’t squawk at you.