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ABIT Max Series MediaXP Bay Review

ABIT Max Series MediaXP Bay Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: Going behind the computer can be a real hassle, so Abit came up with a "multimedia" bay for the Abit MAX AT7 and IT7 series mainboards that brings the most accessed ports up to the front.
 92% Rating:   
Filed under: Cases Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ABIT Aug 21 2002   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Cases > ABIT MediaXP

Abit Max Series MediaXP Bay Review

Abit recently stunned the world with the release of their MAX line of motherboards. The MAX line of motherboards are what they call "legacy free" motherboards which means they have no serial, parallel or PS/2 ports.

Instead, the motherboard uses USB and firewire ports to communicate with peripherials. As forward thinking as this is, we still need to bend behind the case to get at the jacks. Going behind the computer can be a real hassle, so Abit came up with a "multimedia" bay for the Abit MAX AT7 and IT7 series mainboards that brings the most accessed ports up to the front, in easy grasp of everyone.

The MediaXP bay fits into a regular 5 1/4" drive slot and has two USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire, a SPDIF output, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, a compact flash, memory stick, and secure digital card reader, and as if that weren't enough already, it even has an infrared port for a remote control. Not bad eh?

The Abit MediaXP bay only works with Abit's MAX line of motherboards so if you don't have one you can forget about all those cool goodies the MediaXP brings to the table. The reason for this seemingly unfair trade off is pretty simple - the cables that connect all these ports have to hook up to something, and since the MediaXP doesn't use any type of PCI card that means only motherboards with the correct headers will work.

The MediaXP bay retails for around $70 USD, but if you consider the cost of a few compact flash media readers alone this isn't out of scale, and it does make life easier for everyone.

The construction of the MediaXP is pretty good, the media bay doesn't have a cheap feel, and everything is labeled very well. It only comes in beige, beige, or glorious beige. It would be nice if it were also available in black, or possibly some other different shades like silver for owners of aluminum cases.

Installation of the drive bay is dead simple; the manual is very detailed and all the cables are labelled as well as the connectors so there is little chance for confusion. Installation in Windows was also very simple, compact flash, memory stick and secure digital cards are all detected as USB Mass Storage devices and if you're in Windows Explorer you'll see them as Removable Disks.

Probably the coolest feature of the MediaXP drive bay is the remote control.

The remote control has been highly integrated into the accompanying WinDVD and WinRip software. Pressing the WinDVD button obviously brings up WinDVD and once inside you can use the remote as a mouse and bring menu's, turn up the volume and even eject the DVD! Not all things were rosy though.

The biggest hiccup with the MediaXP and the remote is that you need to keep the remotes line of site pretty much directly in front of the case for the IR signals to be received well enough. Basically though, if you know how to operate a remote, you are doing good. Additionally, if InterVideo WinCinema Manager is not loaded into the startup menu the remote won't work either.

Final thoughts on the MediaXP

Abit's MediaXP bay is a very cool little device and comes packed to the rails with a lot of features for Atbit MAX series motherboard owners. It really is a shame that the unit will only work with this one type of motherboard, and you have to wonder if Abit has indeed considered adding a PCI card for future versions so it can work with any computer. The current crop of nameless front panel multi-function bays on the market are no where near as well done as the MediaXP, so if Abit were to somehow make the MediaXP compatible with every motherboard there they would have a hit.

The MediaXP is loaded with useable features that will keep any multimedia user happy. Having front panel USB, IEEE 1394, SPDIF, headphone and mic jacks are very handy. To make things better, it's also compatible with today's popular mobile media like compact flash, memory stick, secure digital cards and the remote control is like icing on the cake.

Sadly for us, Smart Media flash memory has been left out of the picture completely. FujiFilm cameras and MP3 players like Samsung's Yepp series both make use of this simple and compact memory formafactor (my personal fav as far as flash media goes).

In terms of usefulness, since my digital camera uses compact flash I find it much easier just to plug the card into the MediaXP bay then to attach the USB cable to my camera. The remote control is a cool option but during testing it didn't work as well as I would have hoped. The remote really had to be aimed directly at the receiver to work, and occasionally the signal would just lost.

Abit's MediaXP is quite useful to IT7 and AT7 motherboard owners, but with a street price of $70USD it might not fly of the shelves as if it were priced on the underside of $50. If you're an owner of an Abit MAX series motherboard and have a lot of multimedia devices that make use of removable flash memory definitely check out the MediaXP!


 

Contents of Article: ABIT MediaXP

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