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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti [06.03.02]
Manufactured by: VICS Technology

MSRP: $70

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The USB/1394 sub-board contains an ordinary Firewire plug, which must be connected to a live 1394 plug on the outside of the case, which means you have to find a hole somewhere to run it through. The USB ports, however, come with an internal cable to interface with on-board USB ports on most modern motherboards, the manufacturers of which don't always include the extra cables necessary to actually USE these ports. However, this cable ALSO needs to be assembled, which can be extremely tedious, and nearly impossible to disassemble without breaking the plug assembly. While it's very smart of them to allow for multiple configurations of the on-board USB connector (which is NOT standardized, and each motherboard manufacturer tends to do it a different way) simply having 5 individual 1-wire plugs might have been a safer bet, and would allow the device to be moved to a different system more easily. Hardcore computer geeks don't always stick with the same motherboard for very long, and this needs to be considered.

Once the front panel device is assembled, and the PCI card is put together, installation is comparatively easy. However, on some boards, the PCI card might not want to go seems that the length of the device is just pushing the outer limits of the PCI slot specification. I had to get it in by putting in one corner at a time, and then forcing in the rest. Then just connect the ribbon cable at each end, as well as the USB, 1394, and LED/switch bundle (if desired) and you're ready to go. As advertised, there are no drivers required.


Well, once installed, I can see this would probably look the best in an aluminum case. But I don't have one, and probably won't be getting one. It certainly doesn't look BAD in my beige case, I just wish the color matched. But one advantage to it being bare metal is the fact that you now have a grounded connection to the PC chassis accessible right from the front panel, which is good for all of those who are stuck working on their PCs on a carpet, or are just too lazy to move the thing somewhere else to work on me. :)

When you first boot up with the device fully installed, the first thing you'll notice is a bunch of hexadecimal codes. These are the BIOS POST codes, and are great for diagnosing a stuck boot-up sequence. Most good techs carry around a PCI card which also allows them to read these codes, but it's nice to be able to see it without popping open the case, isn't it. Of course, if you need a board replacement, then good luck re-wiring the front-USB ports...

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