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Gizmos, Gadgets and Goodies Guide - May 2003

It's time for the second issue of our Gizmos, Gadgets and Goodies Guide for May 2003 - a few days late due to technical difficulties. In the latest issue, Shawn "Toxic" Baker takes a look at a range of interesting products from companies including Custom Cases, Vantec, Mushkin and PC Toys. What product will take your fancy? Read on and you will likely find out.
Shawn Baker
Published Mon, Jun 2 2003 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

GGG May 2003 - Introduction

IntroductionDue to the success of Aprils Gizmos, Gadgets and Goodies Guide we have chosen to release another one, unfortunately due to some computer issues in our labs it has come a few days later then expected.Like last month case modding makes quite a big appearance as well as some of the latest MP3 players to hit the market. A few other items that have creped into our office and are also featured to turn this into 10 pages of pure goodies for your computer.So sit back, grab your energy drink and be fulfilled with information that will help you spend that loose change that is floating around.

GGG May 2003 - Custom Cases

Custom CasesCustom Cases are quite new to the retail market here in Melbourne, Australia and have been able to build themselves a nice reputation. Concentrating on the ever growing case modding market with competitive prices and an excellent range of items they are quickly becoming quite well known. This month they where kind enough to provide us with the latest lighting equipment from Antec, some very cool fans from Cooler Master and something every case modder shouldn't be with out, wire loom.In coming months Custom cases should make a regular appearance in our guides with the latest and greatest from case modding sector of the industry.- Antec Multi Color Light SticksAntec have built themselves quite a respectable name when it comes to cases. With case modding getting bigger and bigger it looks like it might be the time for Antec to have a closer look at it, early last month we had the chance to have a look at the latest cases from them which we were very happy with, hopefully these new lights can keep up with them.
The Antec multi colored lights are for external usage, an area that has been quite neglected until now. Running off a USB interface there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to install these without great ease. Simply plug the USB cable into the front/rear of your computer and you will be up and running in no time. The light sticks are available in two kits - one consists of a 30cm light, the other two 8cm lights, both kits come with the necessary double sided tape to place the light sticks anywhere outside your case. Each light has the ability to change into seven colors and options to fade in and out or permanently leave just one color on.The cable is long enough to reach most items if your case in on the desk, some suggested spots are your monitor or just the exterior of your case. Overall the kit is very neat and the range of colors available in the one light is excellent, while some people may not like the use of external lighting other people are going to find it very funky. If you are interested in external lighting the Antec light sticks are your only option at the moment.

GGG May 2003 - Custom Cases Continued

Custom Cases Continued- Cooler Master 4 LED fansCooler Master are quite well known for making a product of excellent quality, unfortunately this usually comes with a high price tag and when we received the new LED fans that Cooler Master have on offer we didn't expect anything different - a high quality fan at a high price.The cooler master four LED fan kit comes with four screws, a three to four pin Molex connecter as well as the fan, of course. The fans we are looking is white as well as a darker orange sample. Earlier this year we had the chance to look at the cold cathode fans offered by Sunbeam. While these are excellent fans they did add the extra wires as well as the extra thickness due to the cold cathode being an addition to the fan, the advantage of the LED fans is that you simply have one wire to plug in and they are no thicker than a normal 80 X 80 X 25 fan.
It is nice to see that Cooler Master has moved away from the more traditional colors like red, blue and green and move to something a little different. If you really want the fan to be something to stand out on your case these fans will be perfect. Fortunately they are also capable of pushing a good amount of airflow at a low volume which is always a good thing for the person who has to listen to them. Due to the four LED design, compared to the three that some of the cheaper fans offer, this fan is a lot brighter.If you are currently looking for some new fans and want something that will add a bit of color at the same time the new cooler master LED fans might be exactly what you are after. With extra brightness, a nice range of colors and an excellent price tag these are going to be perfect for people who want that little bit extra for there case.- Wire LoomWire loom is one of those products that a lot of people don't know about since it's a simple product. Wire loom can be purchased from most car accessory places but a lot of people will find that the colors to choose from are severely limited. Custom Cases have two colors to choose from which are slightly more exciting then the ones that are on offer at car accessory places.What is Wire loom you might be asking? Wire loom is simply used to help conceal those ugly wires that your power supply show, unfortunately it isn't an easy task to hide all the wires out of the way so the loom helps keep them in a clean manner. Instead of seeing individual wires all over the place you see nice rows of stylish tubing covering up the mess.
The blue wire loom looks fantastic when combined with a big window and a blue cold cathode. Due to the glossy look on the loom it helps reflect light even more making the case that extra bit brighter.The benefits for wire loom are just about endless and considering the price of it, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't go purchase some for yourself. Not only does it look great but if you are in your computer more often then others, it helps when moving around as you have less to get caught on.

GGG May 2003 - Vantec

VantecVantec is one company that shouldn't need an introduction; they have been creating quality products for the enthusiast market for a while now and keep following the same very high standard with every new product.If you had a chance to read last months guide, you would remember that we had a look at the Vantec hard drive cooler which while offered a higher price tag then others on the market, it was defiantly the best we have seen in a while. Vantec have provided us with some fans from the Spectrum range they have recently released. This range is aimed at the case modders interested in lighting up their cases.- Spectrum UV FansThe Spectrum UV Fans kit is similar to those of the Cooler Master fans.Included is the fan as well as four screws and a three pin to four pin adapter. The fans look like a simple clear fan but as soon as you power them up with an Ultra Violet cold cathode this is where you really begin to see what the fans are designed for. Due to the design of the fan it helps light the fan up a lot. This looks a lot nicer then the normal black fan and to some people better then LED fans due to the same amount of brightness all around instead of where LED's are shining.The Spectrum UV fans push a maximum 39 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) at 34 decibels, which is not too bad at all.
If you already have an ultra violet light in your case and you are looking for something to use with it, these fans will be perfect for you. A good range of colors are available and you shouldn't have any problem finding find a colour to match your case color scheme. These fans may be a better option for some people over the Cooler Master LED fans since they will be cheaper and you may already have some lighting in your case, instead of wasting them you may as well make use of them and combine them with the Vantec fans on offer today.

GGG May 2003 - Mushkin

MushkinAs soon as you mention the word Mushkin around an overclocker they instantly think of high quality memory modules.Recently Mushkin have moved into doing a few extra products on the side. Some of newer accessories from Mushkin are the portable MP3 players along with USB 2.0 flash drives and other little items likes pens and t shirts to show off at your local LAN party.- Mushkin Enhanced MP3 PlayerFor the past couple of years MP3 players have become the next big thing in portable music players. Due to the ease of downloading and creating MP3s, most people won't have a problem getting a hold of them however they choose to obtain them. The benefit of MP3 players compared to CD players is that they are able to hold the same amount of music or more sometimes in such a small size unit. The Mushkin MP3 player is one of the best looking Flash Drive MP3 players on the market and the craftsmanship on it is very high. The back of the drive consists of a clip so it can easily be mounted onto any of your clothing; say your belt for example.
The drive is very easy to use and simply involves plugging it into an available USB port, Windows XP, 2000 and ME will pick it up and install the necessary drivers which are already on your Windows installation, within a minute a new drive will show up under My Computer and you will be able to access the MP3 player like a normal drive. Some of the features included the Lithium-ION 500mA 3.7Vlasting 20 hours at full charge, LED indication, read write protection and a 1 year warranty.
The sound quality and headphones are quite good and for a lot of people this is going to be perfect if they just want something small. If you wanted to buy some better quality headphones you would lift the sound quality but you are limited to files bit rate which of course isn't going to be as good as a CD in case of the usual MP3 file, a lot of people will not notice the difference.The MP3 player that Mushkin has on offer is not only excellent quality but comes with everything you need to get up and running straight away. Unfortunately it is let down with a price tag that is slightly higher then the others, fortunately the old saying you get what you pay for comes in to play here. It really is a top quality unit and you can just feel that they haven't cut corners when making it. One drawback is the USB 1.1 interface, while this isn't such a big deal on the smaller sized units, if you are using a 256 MB or 512 MB player the transfer of files can be quite slow and people may get frustrated waiting for it to copy over such a large amount.Mushkin have done an excellent job with the new MP3 player and have carried over the same quality used in their memory modules. If you are interested in an MP3 player and don't mind spending a few extra dollars to get a nice looking and well built unit, this will be exactly what you are after.

GGG May 2003 - PC Toys

PC ToysPC Toys is a company dedicated to, well PC Toys...Items used for case modding, PC cooling and cases - overall you shouldn't have a problem finding something you like. This isn't always a good thing as it is one of those places where you will find it easy to spend your well earned dollars quickly. This month we are having a look at one of the fans that PC Toys have on offer, specifically the blue LED one.- Crystal MAXX 80mm Fan with two Blue LED lightsThe Crystal MAXX fan offered by PC Toys is a high end 80mm fan which can be attributed to the massive amount of air it is capable of pushing. The fan can push a maximum 52.6 CFM at a very loud 41.7 decibels.Fortunately the guys at PC Toys have been kind enough to include a speed adjuster with the fan. This is helpful when you don't want to hear the fan, of course the down side with that is it won't push as much air. The fan is a very cool; being clear in appearance but also has two blue LED's built into the center of it which gives the fan that little bit extra show.
It is quite unusual to find such a high speed fan that looks so good, most of the bigger manufactories of high speed fans like Sunon, Panaflow and Delta all follow the very bland black look. It is nice to see that PC Toys have added that little something to it to separate it from the others.Adjusting the fan speed is quite easy and simply involves the use of a Phillips screw driver. Respectively turning the knob clock wise or anti clock wise you easily slow down or speed up the fan. The difference in noise when it its set to the slower speed is very noticeable.
The Crystal MAXX fan is one of the only high performance fans that a case modder would be interested in. When you want to go for something that looks good, normally you are limited to lower speed fans. You could easily use this fan on your processor cooler and get maximum performance out of your heatsink.

GGG May 2003 - Altech Computers

Altech ComputersAltech Computers are a local computer wholesaler located in Sydney and Brisbane and a strong supporter of TweakTown. It seems that the big thing at the moment is flash drives. Since so many companies have started producing these flash drives, some with the ability to play MP3's, the price drop on these devices has been significant.We have already had a chance to look at the MP3 player that Mushkin have on offer earlier in the guide, it will be interesting to find out if the Seitec unit which Altech have provided us with can keep up with it.- Seitec MP3 playerThe first thing you notice about the unit when gripping it in your hand is that it doesn't feel as good as the Mushkin MP3 player. As far as features go it is very similar to the Mushkin unit - USB 1.1 interface, light weight, no drivers needed.One feature that does separate it from the Mushkin unit and a lot of other units we have seen is the inclusion of a laser pointer, while it doesn't really have any specific purpose it is a nice little extra and a little bit of fun. We don't recommend that you point it at people's eyes, saying that there is no harm in pointing it in some ones window who is 200 meters down the road.Editor's Note - Note to companies, please do not send any of our writers any more laser flashy things, please!!!
The sound quality out of the device is just as good as the Mushkin, of course you are not going to be able to get CD quality due to the limitation of MP3s and it will sound better with higher quality headphones, but for most people this will be an easy and small solution. These units are also a lot lighter and easier to carry around then a disc man. Due to the use of CD's they are limited to just how small they can get them, unfortunately it is always slightly bigger then a CD.
This unit is also a lot cheaper then the one Mushkin has on offer, overall if you are in the market for an MP3 player and you are doing it on a budget this may be a better option. While I haven't heard a lot about the company, hopefully we will see some more products from them in the near future.

GGG May 2003 - Chameleon Springs

Chameleon springs are a brand new product that is just about to be released to the market. Unfortunately we don't have a lot of information on the company that sent them to us so we will simply get straight into having a look at them.- Chameleon SpringsIf you simply handed this product to someone they would most likely not have the slightest idea what it is used for.Chameleon springs are aimed at the modder who wants to tidy up those messy wires inside that beautiful case of theirs. At the end of the day chameleon springs are just a fancy name for Wire Loom.The first thing you notice is that it won't look as good as the Wire Loom that Custom Cases has on offer here or any other type of wire loom with the similar design to the one we looked at earlier. The main reason for this is that you are still going to see the wires under the clear springs. This is better for tiding up your wires, while wire loom is better for making them look good at the same time which is what a case modder wants. If you can't hide it in a case then pretty it up, wire loom does this where chameleon springs don't. While they are capable of getting the wires together tightly you still see all the individual strands of red, blue and yellow.
On the other hand if the company producing these started offering the product in a range of colours this may make it look a lot better. This is something that the company should experiment with; the clear color doesn't help make your wires look any better but do help keep them together so you don't get caught on them when inside your case, and of course help air flow inside it. Instillation is very easily and involves simply twirling them on to your wires, a range of sizes are also available so you won't have a problem covering your ATX connector and your thinner cables.
While the chameleon springs do what they are supposed to do, unfortunately they don't do it as well as the very simple wire loom that Custom Cases and most car auto accessory places do. In the near future we look forward to seeing a greater range of colors. This alone would add more appeal to the chameleon springs. At the end of the day most people will choose to go for classic wire loom for its availability and its wide range of colors.

GGG May 2003 - 3 Men and Conclusion

3 Men3 Men are a new company to us here at TweakTown. When they offered to send their water wheel HDD cooler (WooHoo, water cooling products!) we became quite excited. But to then discover that it had remotely nothing to do with water, we instantly become some what disappointed. Anyway, let us see how it goes as a hard drive cooler.- Water WheelThe Water Wheel resembles the HD-600 hard drive cooler on offer by Just Cooler except with slightly redefined fins. These days HDD coolers haven't become such a big thing thanks to the good ventilation of new cases. HDD coolers also need somewhere to pull the cool air from and the Water Wheel is no exception.Depending on the case and its placement of HDD's, you can end up blowing warm air onto your hard drive which will do more harm then good.
Another problem with this HDD cooler is that it adds a little extra height to the drive making it impossible to install a drive underneath it. It isn't that the Water Wheel product itself is not the best product - it is just that HDD coolers overall generally are quite disappointing. The Water Wheel does what it is supposed to do and just as well as anything else in its category, unfortunately it is a hard product to recommend as the cons outweigh the pros.If you are interested in getting a HDD cooler you are better off purchasing one that sits in a 5.25 slot and pushes air straight over the top of the drive - the real man's HDD cooler. The Water Wheel is defiantly one of the better, cheaper HDD coolers on the market, but overall as a cooler for HDD's we wouldn't recommend spending your dollars on it. ConclusionAnother month has gone by and we have had the chance to have a look at some new and exciting products again.It seems that case modding is the area where many new products are coming out and we are sure that we will see some more items surrounding it in our next guide.

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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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