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Modding System's Parallel LCD Kit Review Posted by Mike @ 9:00 P.M. on 04/06/03





Background

A LCD is one thing that not too many modders have. Whether it be the fact that a 20x4 LCD costs $60, or people have just never seen how cool they really are. Modding System hopes to change this. They are still providing the same thing CrystalFontz and Matrix Orbital have, only they're only charging $45 shipped.

When we first open up the package we see almost everything we need. Included are all the necessary cables, the LCD, and a set of instructions. The only thing the buyer must get is software, which is available for free over the Internet or can be put on a CD for you for $1 extra. Modding System took good care of the LCD, it is wrapped in tape, in order to avoid any scratching while soldering.

 
There's nothing worse then receiving a product and seeing it scratched up, which is certainly not the case here.

As I received a beta unit, I had to push a connector over the pins onto the lcd to connect the power and parallel connector. It was not difficult, but it was confusing on whether or not I had the connectors upside-down. I also had to connect a power cable to the pins on the side, which were not too sturdy. Fortunately, in the final unit both of these problems have been fixed. The pins are labeled as to what end of of the cable goes to what pin, and the unit no longer has the power pins as they are attached to the wiring already.


Here it is ready to go into the system. Unfortunately the molex connector isn't a passthrough, but we can live with that.

Installation is a snap; just run a wire to your parallel port, and snap the other wire into a molex connector. Of course, the LCD isn't mounted; it is up to the user to do that part. We decided to put ours into our bottom two 5.25" bays (it's too big for just one). The process was easy, and expect to see a guide on it soon. We did make a mistake, and mounted it too far to the right, that is why we modified the power pins in the above picture. You could also take the easy way out, and screw it to the inside of your window.

The nice thing about LCDs is that you can make them display anything you want. You are only limited by the program. For this LCD we decided to use one of the competitors programs, CrystalFontz' CrystalControl. Although Modding System recommends Borderfield's LCD Center, we ran into problems with it because we use Win XP with NTFS formatted hard drives.


Here's a shot of what the program looks like. It's easy to use, and will show you exactly what your LCD is displaying. You can also make multiple screens (comp info, winamp, comp temps, game stats, etc) which will alternate with a user-defined time.


Unfortunately I had to distort the picture because it isn't resizable. Click it for a full sized shot.

This is what the screen editor looks like. It may look a little complicated at first, but it is actually quite easy to figure out. There are plenty of options to display on the LCD, and it will even work with showing stats from Motherboard Manager, Winamp, and about 10 games.

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