We’re going to get this out of the way up front. If you’re looking for raw speed, the MediaSmart isn’t for you. We’ve tested faster NAS boxes, but we’ve never tested a network storage device that delivers the same level of functionality as this little Windows Home Server-based wonder.
You can’t help but be impressed that Samsung’s 940UX provides 19 inches of 1280x1024-res full-color LCD action over a USB 2.0 interface. How is that even possible? It’s the result of a built-in DisplayLink chip and driver, which handles graphics duties and makes the monitor instantly recognized by the OS as a connected USB device—no manual configuration required. It’s an amazingly simple and convenient way to add one or more monitors to a PC that lacks any additional videocard ports. Samsung says you can even daisy-chain up to six 940UX LCDs to a single machine (each monitor sports one upstream and two downstream USB 2.0 ports) provided your CPU can accommodate them. Minimum requirements for one or two 940UX monitors is a 1.2GHz CPU and 512MB of memory, and it scales up from there.
For a change of pace, we’ll start with our biggest critique
first—literally, the biggest. Thermaltake’s Xaser VI chassis (the
air-cooling-specific VG4000 model) is the Godzilla of cases. It’s heavy
enough to make carrying it an awkward, hernia-inducing experience, and
that’s before you slap a system inside. Heaven forbid you make full use
of the case’s eight (?!) hard drive bays and seven (?!?!) 5.25-inch
expansion slots. Add water cooling and you might want to invest in some
wheels and a dolly for transporting the beast.
In yet another example of a design that likely looked way better on
paper than in practice, we find ourselves struggling to come to terms
with the Cooler Master 690’s more unique features. We can’t fault the
company for trying; in some ways, we applaud Cooler Master’s attempts
at distinguishing the 690 from the rest of its cadre in the crowded
When it comes to case design, innovation is a double-edged sword. If a company gets it right, it can win attention and accolades for introducing a fresh and functional approach to an otherwise stale and unchanging market. Let’s face it, a lot of new cases look just like the plain ol’ boxes of yore, with maybe a couple of new fan holes here and there.
Only the best-sounding speakers ever earn our highest praise. Griffin’s Evolve wireless iPod quite speakers don’t reach that height, but their wireless capabilities are almost remarkable enough to overcome their middle-of-the-road sound.