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Matrix Orbital MX212 PC-Bay Insert Review

 Matrix Orbital MX212 PC-Bay Insert Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Most interestingly, the Matrix Orbital can report on a long list of programs with its back lit LCD screen.
Filed under: Peripherals Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Matrix Orbital Mar 13 2004   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Peripherals > Matrix Orbital MX212

Matrix Orbital MX212 PC-Bay Insert Review

Drive bay controllers have come a long way from the simple four-switch fan controller that really started the whole genre. Now we have multifunction panels such as the MX212 from Matrix Orbital which can control many features of your computer from a simple four-button digital interface. More interestingly, the Matrix Orbital can report on a long list of programs with its back lit LCD screen; so for example you can monitor your memory usage from one moment to the next, or even something as mundane as your IP address.

With a backlit blue LCD screen, this USB controlled bay insert interacts with software you load onto your PC, bringing more than a host of useful features and information right to the front of your modded computer. With the Matrix Orbital MX212 you get a very cool interactive unit that can control various pieces of software within your PC, from Winamp to weather reports (via internet link to standard weather information providers), or even displaying the amount of free space on your hard drive. With a retail price of $144 CDN ($109 US) the Matrix Orbital MX212 is pretty expensive for a front panel LCD display... but when set up correctly it can look pretty cool in just about any PC looking for that extra level of customization.

The options are endless if you know how to program, but even if you don't, there are plug-ins available that bring to task a host of features and useful applications via the LCDC software it communicates with.

Matrix Orbital MX212
Includes:

Driver CD, Quick Installation Guide, USB Cable

The Matrix Orbital MX212 connects to the PC via a USB connection instead of the old standard serial cable you might expect. There is a USB B port just on the back of the unit, so all you really have to do is feed the USB cable out through a clear PCI slot, and plug it into one of the host computers' USB ports. Matrix Orbital even include the USB cable, so you can simply connect the MX212 to your USB port, install the drivers and software, and then you're set.

What makes the Matrix Orbital MX212 so powerful is the accompanying LCDC software, it's the heart of MX212, and with it your computer communicates to the device.

The Matrix Orbital MX212 has a very clean look and design, it's something that you'll definitely love to have in your case. The LCD display backlight on this unit is blue, and using the software controls you can even adjust how strong the illumination is. At the default setting the backlit LCD display is very clear and easy to read.

The buttons to the right and left of the screen offer some moderate functionality, from scrolling through the various menus to accessing other things on the PC depending on the program.

The Matrix Orbital MX212 feels very well constructed, definitely not something that's built by soldering a few IC's together on a circuit board. To make sure that you never lose connectivity, Matrix Orbital locks the USB cable into the port with a zip tie.

To attach the Matrix Orbital to the computer you must run the cable through an open expansion slot, and since the cable is about three feet in length you shouldn't have to extend it if you're using a longer case. It would have been ideal if the Matrix Orbital MX212 came with a USB cable that could attache to one of the motherboard's internal USB headers, but unfortunately that isn't the case.

Installation of the MX212 is straightforward, with the unit installing like any other regular CD-ROM device. You might want to take a bit of care when handling the Matrix Orbital though as the frame is a bit sharp around the edges.

On the back of the unit are three fan headers which can allow the MX212 to control fans as well. The MX212 also has four temperature monitoring ports, but unfortunately the necessary cables were not included in the package. They do offer them as accessories, but $9.95US each is a bit on the steep side...

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Contents of Article: Matrix Orbital MX212
 Pg 1.  — Matrix Orbital MX212 PC-Bay Insert Review
 Pg 2.  The Software Side

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