Date: April 22nd, 2008
Article by: Jackie Mueller (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited By: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: VIZO
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
All of the ports are clearly labeled on the front and are well organized. The card reader supports just about any type of card including compact Flash Type I/II, Micro Driver, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Smart Media, SD, Mini SD , Multi Media Card, RS-MMC, and Micro SD. Some cards (like micro SD for example) will require an adapter in order to work, so be sure to have one on hand.
As one would expect, the back of the unit is where all the cables are plugged in. A USB cable header that plugs into the motherboard is already attached to the unit and labeled clearly.
To avoid any confusion, Vizo labeled all the connectors on the PCB so it's easy to know which cable goes where. Wire ties are provided inside the box as well to help organize cables mess once everything is inside the case.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
An adequate number of holes are located on each side of the unit for mounting it inside just about any computer case. It installs the same way as most other 5 ¼ bay devices – just secure it to the case with the provided screws and you're then ready to plug in all the necessary cables and power on the system.
Installing the Master Panel II will be easier if all the cables are plugged in before putting it into the case. It's easy to match up the right cable with the right connector because the cables are labeled as well at the PCB.
While operational, you can check the status of the unit via a power LED and activity LED located in the upper left corner. I always like to see the inclusion of indicators even on simple products, because it's a quick way to tell if the unit is powered on and functioning correctly.
My first test for the Master Panel II was the card reader. I transferred some files back and forth from a few different SD and MS-Pro Duo cards I had laying around, and it worked great each and every time. Transfers were quick and I had no issues with card compatibility or file corruption.
I hooked up a case fan to each of the fan speed controllers with equally good results. They work exactly as they should, and my machine is a bit quieter to boot since I only run the fans at higher speeds while gaming.
Two USB ports are provided for hooking up external hard drives, plugging in a camera, or a number of other things. They are very close together, so depending on the size of the cable/drive that is attached you may or may not be able to have something plugged into both ports at the same time. The eSATA and Fire wire ports can also be used for transferring files from external drives, and they both provide a faster transfer speed than USB.
The audio ports are handy, but Vizo didn't provide a cable to attach them directly to the audio headers on the motherboard. So in order to use these you have to run cables from the back of the panel through the case and out the PCI bracket, and then plug them into the back of the motherboard.