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FrontX Multimedia Ports
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Date: Dec 14, 2001
Section:Misc
Author: HH Editor
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The FrontX Multimedia Ports - Page 1

The FRONTX Multimedia Ports
It makes life easier...

By, Jeff Bouton
May 1, 2001

 

Every once in a while a product arrives at the Hot Hardware labs that really gets our attention.  It doesn't necessarily need to be the fastest, largest, or most powerful item, but rather innovative in its design.  Needless to say, the FrontX Multimedia Ports from FrontX is just the kind of product that fits this criterion.


 

When the folks at FrontX contacted us about reviewing the FrontX Multimedia Ports, I thought the timing couldn't have been better.  For the last few months I've been attending local computer shows looking for a unit that would move my USB ports to the front of my machine.  Sure, I could've picked up an external hub, but I'm a neat freak.  Running cables all over the place and cluttering up my desk with components is not my idea of a good time.  So I began keeping an eye out for a self-contained unit that would fit into one of my drive bays.  I found one unit that turned 1 USB port into 4, but the thing was poorly made and really buggy.  Many of today?s new motherboards have adapters included, but finding one for sale has proven to be a challenge.  So to get the job done, I broke out the trusty soldering iron and made one myself.  It wasn't pretty, but it worked great.  When FrontX contacted us about the FrontX Multimedia Ports, I thought that my prayers were answered.  This unit offers the flexibility to move virtually any port you may have to the front of your rig.  This sounded too good to be true.  I welcomed the opportunity to get my hands on one to see if it delivered on all its promises.

Let's take a look and see what this thing has to offer...

 

Specifications Of The FRONTX Multimedia Ports
Unique...

 
FUNCTION
Xtend computer ports to the front

INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS
1 free 5.25" drive-bay and PCI/ISA opening

DRIVER
Not required

CPX088 FRONTX CASING
Contains 1 large and 3 small port holding bays
Can hold a maximum of 8 computer ports
Includes a Metal Plate and 4 pieces of M3 screw

CPX100 MULTIMEDIA PORTS
This package includes Casing, Earphone, Microphone, Audio-In and Game ports

PORTS CONFIGURATION
Option 1 - purchase one CPX100 FRONTX Multimedia Ports plus additional ports to add onto it
Option 2 - purchase one CPX088 FRONTX Casing plus the ports of your choice

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS
Earphone Port
Game Port
Audio-In Port
Microphone Port
USB Type A
USB Type A Internal
Serial D-Sub 9 Pin
Serial D-Sub 9 Pin Internal

FUTURE RELEASE
Video, IEEE 1394 and Parallel ports
Others - to be announced
 

As you can see, the FrontX Multimedia Ports comes well equipped but it doesn't stop there.  If you want to add an additional USB, DB-9, or Game Port, they offer additional add-ons at an exceptional price.  I've seen external 5 port USB hubs selling for 70 bucks at my local STAPLES.  With the extras that FrontX offers, you could build your own for half that and have it self-contained in a 5.25" bay.

Let us jump on over to the Quality and Installation to see if this is all that it is cracked up to be...

Quality, Installation & Conclusion

 
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The FrontX Multimedia Ports - Page 2

The FRONTX Multimedia Ports
It makes life easier...

By, Jeff Bouton
May 1, 2001

Quality and Installation Of The FrontX Multimedia Ports
Eeeaaasssyyy...

 

 

The quality and design of the FrontX Multimedia Ports is excellent.  The unit is both simple and flexible, allowing us to rearrange the positioning of our ports with ease.  Adding an additional component is as easy as removing a blank and sliding the new port in place.  The general construction is sturdy with a solid body and heavy-duty cables.  This unit is definitely built to last for years to come.  The only strike against the FrontX Multimedia Ports is that it would've been nice if they made the plugs at a 90° angle.  Having them at this angle would alleviate the stress on the plugs as well as reduce how much they protrude from the back of the case.  That aside, this is a sweet piece of hardware that deserves a place in any rig.
 

The only two requirements to install the FrontX Multimedia Ports are a spare 5.25" drive bay and a free PCI/ISA opening.   Once the unit is mounted in the bay, the wires are fed through an available PCI/ISA opening in the rear of the case.  The only thing left to do is mount the back plate and plug in the cables.  That's it.  You're ready to rock. 

I particularly like the headphone feature that makes a headphone jack out of a standard speaker port without losing the port in the rear.  When the headphones are plugged in, the speakers are automatically cut off.  This feature is especially helpful for those who have fairly basic sound cards that don't offer a headphone jack. 

Some people may feel that running all of this cabling through their rig is going to take up valuable air space, having a negative affect on good airflow.  I didn't find this to be the case at all.  The FrontX Multimedia Ports provides ample length on all of its cable.  Using a few zip ties and some plastic hooks, I had no problem neatly bundling the cables and anchoring them on the edge of my case out of the airflow.  Once this was done, the FrontX Multimedia Ports was installed with minimal impact on the space in my box.

 


 


In a nutshell, the FrontX Multimedia Ports is an excellent product.  Now that I have one installed in my rig, you'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands to get it out.  The ease of installation and the convenience of having our sound and game ports moved forward is priceless.  To top it all off, FrontX charges around $25 for the base unit.  If you want to add additional ports, it'll cost you under $10 including FedEx shipping!  For quality, ingenious design, and for making my computing life a whole lot easier, I give the FrontX Multimedia Ports a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of?
 


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