Some times you have to think out side the box
when you approach your next big upgrade, and I do mean outside the
box. Nearly everything you need has gone external from hard
drives to video cards. Thanks to the bandwidth gains offered
by USB 2.0 and eSATA (and the dramatic price drops) many of us are
finding there aren't enough ports to go around. Thanks to
products like VIZO's Master Panel II you can add all the ports you
need to nearly any build, and stop the rooting around behind
your case for good. Let's see how the Master Panel II can
bring you back to the front again.
We have seen a lot of fan
controllers, card readers and such over the years but there always
seems to be at least one function that isn't included in the build.
With the Master Panel II, VIZO offers the amusing tagline, "No need
to go to the back... Do it in the front!"
Lets take a closer look at the packaging first.
The front offers a nice look at the product and shows how the master
Panel II aims to fill your need for a
card reader, fan controller, external drive ports and multi-function
I/O ports. The back takes that into greater detail. No
need to squint, we bring it all to you below.
The front of the Master Panel is cleanly laid out
resulting in functions that are easy to get to and clearly defined.
Clockwise from top left: Power and drive activity lights, 4 card
slots, 2 fan controllers, 3 audio I/O ports, an RCA port,
an eSATA 3.0 port, a 1394 and 2 USB 2.0 ports. The
housing is constructed of black plastic but only you will know
without a pretty close inspection. The finish nicely matches
both the Tagan El Diablo I have chosen for today's install and my
black aluminum SF-201.
- For 5.25" Bay
- USB2.0 internal card reader 4 memory slots
are active, which allows you to copy data between the different
memory cards at the same time
- Dual fan speed control knobs (4V -12 V)
- Multi I/O transfer function (USB*2/ 1394 /
eSATA/ RCA / audio*3)
- Support hot plug and hot swappable
Must be attached to hot swappable compliant host to enable hot
- No need to go to the back, do it in the
- Support WIN 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP / Vista
- Support MAC OS 9.X/ X or above
- Dimensions: 148(W) x 42(H) x 70(D) mm
- Card reader Interface: USB2.0
- Power Mode: USB power / DC 12V, 5V
- Memory card slot:
4 slots for: Compact Flash Type I/II, Micro Driver, Memory
Stick(Duo*), Memory Stick Pro(Duo*), Smart Media, SD, mini SD*,
Multi Media card, RS-MMC*, microSD*
*: need card adapter
- Fan Control: 2*3pin fan RPM control knobs
- Weight: 90g
- Master Panel II Main Module
- Power Adapter Cable
- Fan Cables
- USB Cable
- MIC Cable
- 1394 Cable
- Line in / out Cable
- SATA Cable
- RCA Cable
- Accessory Package
- 98 Driver CD for Card Reader
- User Manual
The back of the panel is pretty simple as most of
the features require only a pass through to function. The USB
cable shown here comes pre-installed and is used by the card reader
and as a power source where needed with the rest of the cables left be chosen as needed. For full
functionality you are going to need to take some cables out the back
of the case to the correct ports. The connections on the back
are as follows from left to right: 2 fan adapters and a power
adapter (hidden behind the USB), pins for two audio cables, the RCA
port (also hidden), the SATA port, and headers for the 1394 and USB
ports. These will be easier to see from the top.
As you can see from this angle the entire
assembly is about 2 inches deep using only the front mountings in a
typical 5.25" drive bay. This angle also shows the ports
hidden above by the USB cable. The two tiered structure of the
boards is pretty simple and should last you for many years of happy
plugging along. Just remember to take it easy on those fragile
I installed the Master Panel II into my Tagan El
Diablo case next to a Lite-on DVD-RW. The Tagan build is based
around my ABIT Fatal1ty AN9 32X motherboard which provided nearly
all of the needed ports without an external cable run. I
elected to skip the RCA to avoid any unsightly cabling out the back.
Here is a close look at the finished install.
The color is a nice match for the Lite-on unit and looks pretty
sharp in general. The finished installation even fits nicely
behind the door when not in use. Thanks to the lack of a big
side window, I was even spared most of the cable cleanup and settled
for just a couple quick cable ties. The two fan controls had
no problem taking over for the built in controllers on the El Diablo
and everything else worked like clock work. I even used the
ports to dump these pictures from my Sony camera.
The VIZO Master Panel II may not have as many
ports as some of the competitors but it does manage to have every
commonly used port I have ever needed. The layout benefits from this
as well by eliminating the clutter that makes so many control panels
look so busy. The entire install is easy and requires no
drivers for most builds, only Windows 98 users will need the
included disk. As with any control panel, the bulk of the time
is spent plugging in all of the cables and routing them around the
case, or out the back as needed. VIZO has even thoughtfully
provided some cable ties to help keep things clean.
I can easily recommend this panel for a build
without an eSATA port. With the exploding popularity of the
eSATA market, it is becoming the dominate choice for external
storage quickly. I would also recommend this as an easy way to
add the functionality of those optional ports that make
things so much easier to any build. VIZO has successfully made
it so I no longer need to take any of my external devices to the
back of my desk and that is a win in my book.
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