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Gizmos, Gadgets and Goodies Guide - April 2003

Each month here at TweakTown we receive many smaller, cheaper and interesting computer products which we cannot transform into a full blown review on its own. So none of you miss out on any of these funky items, we have initiated our very own monthly Gizmos, Gadgets and Goodies Guide, by Shawn "Toxic" Baker, filled with a range of different computer products from all edges of the globe for your viewing pleasure!
Shawn Baker
Published Tue, Apr 29 2003 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

GGG April 2003 - Introduction

IntroductionDown under here at the TweakTown labs we get the opportunity to receive some of the latest and greatest hardware released to the market. When we receive a piece of hardware there is a certain structure we have to follow, we like to keep the word count to a minimum of 3000 for products that can't be benchmarked. The problem with this is that there are a lot of products on the market that we couldn't write about in that many words, so our readers don't get the chance to see some of the cheaper or smaller items on the market. The TweakTown team concluded that a monthly article consisting off all these smaller items that we receive from Australian companies and abroad would get its very own section - the Gizmos, Gadgets and Goodies Guide also known as the GGG Guide. Items will have anywhere from two paragraphs to one page written about them to give our readers a good knowledge of these items in a smaller amount of words compared to our usual larger reviews and articles.Depending on the success of this article, we will decide if it is worth doing one every month to give people the ability to know what is happening on the lighter side of computers. We know that people don't have the ability to buy the latest $220 motherboard or $500 processor.This month we will be looking at some new items onto the market like Vantecs EZ Swap Hard Drive Caddie, some new case modding items from Flexi glow with anything else we can find lying around the lab. So without further ado, let's continue on!

GGG April 2003 - Flexiglow

FlexiglowFlexiglow are a company that we have seen around for a little while though unfortunately we had never received the opportunity to look at any of their products, until now. Recently they were kind enough to send us over three of their more recent products to look at and we thought it would be an excellent way to start our very first GGG Guide. For more information on Flexiglow products their website can be seen here.- Cold Cathode Bubble LightCase modding is defiantly one of those parts in the computer world which is growing quicker then people ever expected. Like most people probably know, case modding started back in the day with installing more fans to help push more air through your case; this of course resulted in cutting your case which in other words was modding. The first item we are looking at this month is the Bubble Light released by Flexiglow recently. The bubble light kit consists of two smaller cold cathodes, instructions, on/off/flash switch and an inverter which is everything you need to get it installed into your case and start seeing some new lighting. Installation is an absolute breeze and nobody should have a problem installing them, unfortunately the first thing you notice about them is how they are nowhere near as bright as your normal cold cathode. This instantly gives the feeling that they are designed for people to see and not emit a huge amount of light.Flexiglow are trying to push to have light externally attached to your case and you should find with a simple drill hole you shouldn't have any troubles mounting it to the top, front or side - even at the rear of the case if you wanted to light up the back.
The quality of the kits is excellent and being available in four different colors, you shouldn't have a problem finding one to suit your cases colour scheme. The colours available are:Blue - This is defiantly the brightest out of the group and since a lot of people choose to go for a Blue colour scheme this one may be on to of the to buy list.Green - Another very bright light that looks fantastic.Red - Not as bright as the other two it would defiantly be one that you may want to make visible straight through a window or externally on the case. Being a big fan of red it defiantly looks the best, plus when installed I think it made my computer faster...;)Orange - Definitely the dull one of the group, emitting the least amount of light, it's defiantly at the bottom. All three other colours give off a very vibrant look which the orange cannot seem to do.
Overall the kit is fantastic and if you are looking for something to stick on the outside of your case, this may be exactly what you're after. Like most case modding products it adds a bunch of new wires you have to hide but it's now expected when it comes to purchasing lights.

GGG April 2003 - Flexiglow Continued

Flexiglow Continued- Cold CathodeEvery company who produces case modding products have a cold cathode product of some form, being the most popular product due to its brightness, size and price. Anyone interested in case modding will find themselves purchasing one sooner or later. Before people start thinking "well I will just go get any light, they all look the same", it is worth taking note that there is a big difference in cold cathodes.Firstly the build quality but the most noticeable being the amount of light each emits. To date my favorite cold cathodes have been from Sunbeam due to its excellent build quality and high brightness. As soon as I plugged in the Flexiglow Cold Cathode, I thought this was all about to change. The amount of light these cold cathodes emit is huge, while some people may say the borderline of being too bright; others will say they are on borderline of being the most kick ass cold cathodes on the market.
Flexiglow were kind enough to send us one of each colour to look at and instantly I noticed a trend in just how bright these cold cathodes are. Unfortunately while pulling one out of the well protected boxes, the cold cathode split into two parts. One part was the outside casing and the end cube, the other part the actual cold cathode itself and the other cube with all the wires, etc on it. While I noticed no problems with the other cold cathodes or the bubble lights, I was slightly disappointed to find the broken light, as many of you would if you paid good money buying one.
The most noticeable feature on the Flexiglow Cold Cathode kits are defiantly their brightness, which looks to be one of the brightest on the market. Some people may find that these kits are just a little too bright and prefer to purchase something that is dimmer, in the end it all comes down to individual preference. The build quality, like the Bubble Lights, is excellent just like the other cold cathodes.

GGG April 2003 - More Flexiglow

Even More Flexiglow- Sonic DriverSo, you have all your lights installed in your case and they simply sit there on all day? Why not get them to dance in tune with the music around you. This is where the Sonic Driver comes in, it's not an unusual product, as a lot of companies are beginning to include Sound Sensitive Modules standard with cold cathode kits these days. It is a very simply product which consists of a microphone housed in a plastic covering, a dial which gives you the ability to adjust sensitive, and two cables that can be connected to the Bubble Light or Cold Cathode just like we checked out on these previous pages.
The Sonic Driver is simply designed to serve a purpose that gives your computer case a bit more jazz then it would if the cold cathodes were just constantly on - being somewhat boring. Being such a small item, it can be mounted anywhere in your case and it comes with velcro on the back of the device, to be placed securely inside. In the end it is going to be a product that people either want or don't, a lot of people are just happy to have their cold cathodes either ON or OFF.After a while, the constant flashing can become quite annoying and you do find yourself either leaving them constantly on or turning them off altogether.
Flexiglow have produced some excellent products to be included in our first GGG Guide and we hope to see some more of them within coming months. Case modding is becoming such a big thing in this industry that companies are solely concentrating on case modding that many different types of items under this category are popping up left, right and center. This is excellent for users as the range grows and the price drops.

GGG April 2003 - PC Case Gear

PC Case GearPC Case Gear is a well known Australian case modding shop that has been around for a few years now, specializing in case modding items in all shapes and sizes - it has always been easy to find something new and interesting for sale. This month from our friends at PC Case Gear, we have the opportunity to look at Zalman's latest CPU cooler, along with Vantec's new hard drive rack, some caffeinated mints and a few other goodies of interest. - Vantec EZ Swap Mobile RackSome people use removable hard drive racks for security purposes, others use them to making transferring of files easily between two computers. Which ever reason you use them for; mobile racks are becoming more and more mainstream. You can spend anywhere from US$10 - US$50+ on a hard drive rack, it really depends what you want to do with them. More expensive racks come with such options as being hot swappable or being made out of aluminum to give extra strength and security to the drive.The caddie we are looking at today would have to be one of the nicest looking racks on the market. One of the first things you notice when pulling it out of the equally impressive retail packaging is the LCD on the left side of the caddie, underneath it is three buttons and to the right side a latch which when opens reveals a lock, as pictured below.
Installation of the hard drive into the caddie and then the rack its self is very simple, like any CD ROM or Hard Drive, it simply involves securely screwing the drive/caddie into place. When first turning on the computer with the Hard Drive inside the caddie, it didn't pick up. I quickly discovered that you had to lock the caddie before it would detect it. This is mainly for security reasons to prevent people from pulling the caddie out while it is in use, this of course could result in loss of data or death of your hard drive. The caddie defiantly seems to be one of the better type units available and being available in Silver, Beige and Black, there will be no problem finding a Vantec EZ Swap Mobile Rack to suit your computer case.
Overall we have another excellent product from Vantec who seem to be on a bit of a trend lately coming out on top in our Rheobus Roundup which we published earlier this year. If you're in the market for a Hard Drive caddie and it doesn't bother you spending an extra few dollars, this solution from Vantec may be just what you the doctor ordered.

GGG April 2003 - PC Case Gear Continued

PC Case Gear Continued- Penguin Caffeinated MintsIf you're someone who takes your gaming a bit more serious then others and enjoy going to the odd LAN Party or two, you will know how important it is to be prepared for that long night of hardcore gaming.Not only do you have to make sure you have everything hardware and software wise to enable you to play the game of your choice, but it doesn't hurt to throw in a few cans of Jolt Cola or Red Bull so you can stay awake that little bit longer, there is nothing worse then being in the final for your game and being so tired that you can't make the "T" out of the "CT" in Counterstrike.While coke, Jolt Cola, Red Bull and other energy drinks give you your caffeine shot, by the end of the night if you drink too much of it, you may be feeling a bit ill the next morning. This is where these marvelous mints come in, the caffeinated penguin mints seem to be the latest caffeine shot to hit the streets and people are taking to it pretty quickly according to PC Case Gear who are struggling to keep customers at bay.
Penguin mints are a healthy alternative to those cool drinks, being sugar free and fat free, they are already better for you - at least we are given that impression. A single tin consists of about 75 mints which is equivalent to about 25 cans of cola - so, if you find yourself finishing of a tin in quick time you might find yourself bouncing off walls for the next day or two. Being available in a few different flavors, you shouldn't have a problem finding one that acquires your taste buds in an instant, we had a look at the peppermint ones which came highly recommended by PC Case Gear and we must say they taste absolutely superb (Editor Note: Oh indeed, they run out so quickly though!). It doesn't hurt to try something other then cool drink to keep you awake every once and a while, so if you're cramming for exams or wanting to reach that next level in Everquest, the penguin caffeinated mints might be what you have longing for.
- RatPadz GSThe Ratpad has been quite a well known product when it comes to gaming, as people can spend absolutely ages looking for that perfect mousing surface, a few years against two other big names producers in Everglide and 3M.Last month we had a look at the fUnc Pad which was, as far as we were concerned, the best mousing surface money can buy. This month we are looking at the new GS from Ratpadz to see if they can follow the success they had with their previous surface. Like the original RatPadz, the first thing you notice is the sheer size of the pad, being slightly wider then the fUnc it would defiantly have to be one of, if not biggest, surfaces on the market at the moment. Following the all black look and similar shape, the surface doesn't look too different. Some aspects were improved upon, mainly the bottom feet which are now bigger and thicker giving absolutely no slide when using the mouse pad and of course, a redefined mousing surface to make your mousing experience an even smoother one. The first thing you notice when moving from the fUnc pad is how the surface is not as smooth and you can feel yourself going across the ever-so-slight-bumps on the pad.
You can really feel the old saying, "You get what you pay for". The surface feels a lot better than a cheaper mouse pad or no mouse pad at all. The RatPadz is priced more reasonably than the fUnc, so in the end it is going to be a better option for a lot more people, unfortunately while performing better then the current RatPadz, it doesn't perform as well as the fUnc. If you are serious about gaming, you may be better off spending the extra and getting what is the best mice surface available. In the end, you have a nice mousing surface that is going to suit the weekend LAN gamer perfectly, while not coming in any retail packaging it does what it is supposed to do at an excellent price - no real gamer should be without a mousing surface like this.

GGG April 2003 - More PC Case Gear

Even More PC Case Gear- USB Snake LightThe USB snake light has been around for a while now and it seems that still a lot of people out there haven't seen it. It's quite basic in what it is and the one we are looking at here seems to be a generic brand.USB snake light are designed for notebook computers that don't emit much light from the LCD display like larger desktop CRTs which can make it harder to see the keyboard in the dark. It's defiantly one of the simplest products you will install as all you have to do is plug it into any free USB port and away you go. From there it automatically switches on and you are able to bend the light in any which direction you please. It also can be used on a normal computer if you have USB ports on the back of your monitor or the back of your keyboard. Some people may choose to use it at the rear of the case as they might like a bit of light when they are doing things at the back of the case while their system is on.
Once you shut down your computer the light does turn off. It really does have a long list of uses, it might just be that you don't like to have the light on in your room and would like to simply see your keyboard with ease. At a very cheap US$9, you shouldn't have a problem trying to get value for money out of this product.
PC Case Gear always has some new and funky products available to the Australian market and each month we will be looking at the majority of them. Some products are very simple yet very effective like the USB snake light; other products are slightly more expensive and seem to be more of a novelty item like a Hard Drive caddie with a LCD display on it. While some people will find it useful other people will find themselves purchasing it because it's something different. Overall we have some excellent products and they may be something you're interested in, look forward to next month where we will see another neat little pile of products from James and our friends at PC Case Gear.

GGG April 2003 - Anyware Computer Accessories

Anyware Computer AccessoriesAnyware Computer Accessories is the Australian distributor for some of the larger companies in the enthusiast market like ThermalTake and Lian Li. They concentrate on computer accessories and we all know that some of the coolest computer components are accessories. Each month we will receive items that have just reached our shores down under and give you a little write up about them. This month, though, we have some new rounded cables with a little something extra, PATA to SATA adapter and a nice little, cheap USB camera.- El Wire Rounded CablesTwo of the more important items to case modding are Rounded Cables and Lighting, when you mix these both together you get a product that people will simply go "OH WOW" over. EL Wire Rounded Cables are defiantly something new and should take off in the near future. Like most lighting products, it does unfortunately add extra wires to your system but if you're like me - it will be all worth it.The rounded cable has been around for a while and was first started by enthusiast modders who had some electrical tape, a knife and a old parallel ATA cable, you then preceded to cut the individual strands into little piles and use tape to tighten them together, overall this gave you two things: an increase in air flow and a better, uncluttered look.
As this got bigger and bigger, companies started producing their own line of rounded cables using proper covering and giving you a better overall finish. Later came different colors, UV Reactive then followed and now we have come to the point where wrapping EL Cable around has became the in thing.EL stands for Electro Luminescent, which in other words emits light. The cables are very easy to install and simply just involve plugging them in like a normal IDE cable as usual and proceeding to plug a molex connector in to power the light. Defiantly a funky product which gives modders something else to light up their case - if you are after some rounded cables it may be worth checking these ones out for the extra funk they offer.
- USB Flexi CamSome people enjoy the ability to talk to people over the net with the inclusion of a camera; it gives you a more personal feel. There are literally hundreds of web cams on the market and a lot are cheap and nasty, either build quality is very poor or the picture will be so bad or chuggy that it seems pointless - let's not even begin talking about driver issues, either.The camera we are looking is very basic and is defiantly aimed at someone who wants to simply jump into using it straight away at a reasonable price. Being USB based, as soon as you plug it in Windows detects the device and prompts to install drivers, which is a simple case of inserting the CD. Once that is completed the camera is ready to roll.
Currently being off broadband internet the best way to test it was to simply load up Windows Movie Maker which comes with the default installation of Windows XP and hit the record button.The first thing you notice is the picture and its blurriness, simply going to the camera and adjusting the focus fixed this issue almost instantly. Frame rate sticks at a very high 30 FPS making play back very smooth. Recording at the highest quality, a movie was recorded for 5 minutes and was 25mb in size. The quality can simply be adjusted so the file is a 1/3 of that size, or even smaller.
It is defiantly a very easy to use web cam and with the ability to just bend it any which way you like shouldn't give a problem trying to get a picture. Image quality is what you would expect from any standard web cam, as you can see from the capture screenshot above of the mints box.

GGG April 2003 - Anyware Computer Accessories Continued

Anyware Computer Accessories Continued- Iwill Serial ATA to Parallel ATA AdapterWith Serial ATA quickly becoming mainstream, certain motherboards are getting rid of the extra two PATA channels and replacing them with two SATA channels. Instead of having the four PATA channels we have became accustomed to, you are limited to two and people who have multiple hard drives, CD-ROMs and the like may find that they are out of space. This is where the SATA to PATA adapter comes in handy, instead of letting those two extra ports go to waste, you can now use them with your extra drives.The device is very basic; it is simply a small PCB with a PATA adapter on one end and a SATA on the other and a little plug for power. It doesn't take a genius to install this, simply plug the necessary cables in their locations. Once installed boot up your machine and your Serial ATA controller should pick up the extra drives.
It's a very simple product produced by IWILL who have a good name as far as motherboards go. The inclusion of it being boxed would have been nicer as the similar product produced by ABIT looks very professional.
Some new and very cool products have hit our shores and let's hope we get a chance to have a look at some more next month. If its case modding you're after or you are simply trying to make use of those extra features available for your computer, any of the above products may be exactly what you are looking for. Overall we have some excellent products this month from Anyware and while they may not be useful for some, others are going to love them.

GGG April 2003 - Quiet PC

Quiet PCQuiet PC USA is a company dedicated to keeping your computers noise to a minimum as the name suggests, with such items as sound dampening products and fan controllers, they have everything to help keep your PCs noise to a minimum. This month we are having a look at a new product of theirs known as Quiet Feet.- Quiet FeetYou may be wondering to yourself what Quiet Feet are and how they will help reduce noise to your computer, the answer is simple. They are designed to sit on the bottom of external products (such as CD-ROMs) that cause vibration from its spinning mechanical parts. Instead of vibrating the desk and causing other objects to rattle, these products help absorb just about all the vibration preventing other items from rattling.While some people may not have any use for such a product, they are out there and could come in handy if required. Being available in multiple sizes, you shouldn't have a problem finding one to suit your product.
Quiet Feet could become handy on such items like laptops, external CD-ROM or Hard Drives, the type of products which vibrate when being accessed and with poorly designed feet will cause the vibration to travel through your desk, etc. Such features as a pressure sensitive peel-and-stick adhesive backing for easy application to the bottom of your computer and a felt dot to prevent slipping or marking of the surface that your computer sits on. If noise does bother you and you try everything possible to keep it to a minimum, this may be exactly what you're after.
Quiet Feet is a nice, simple yet effective product; while the market is defiantly limited it is out there and people are going to find them helpful. With any luck we will get the chance to see some more products from Quiet PC in following months and see what other ways they have to help people who don't want to hear any noise their computer when it is on.

GGG April 2003 - Conclusion

ConclusionThis month we had to look at some of the latest products to hit the streets - some useful others not so useful. Overall we have presented you with a few products of which will interest you and some will not.We got a chance to look at some excellent products for your case insides and outsides and had a look at some of the more recent case modding items that are appearing around your local computer stores; do look forward to more of the same next month!

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
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