I love gadgets. Some might say I'm a gadget freak.
As much as I like playing with new computer based hardware, it is the gadgets that really do it for me. So, when asked if I'd be interested in reviewing the my answer was a resounding "Hell yes, I'd like to review that!". I've never owned an LCD of any kind personally, so I was eager to take a look at this one.
ForeSight Systems LLC is the company behind the Pertelian X2040, and although you may not have heard much about them before now, that's sure to change. Rather than go into a history lesson you can take a look at their and get a bit of background info on them. However, I will give you the specifications and feature list found on their site.
- POP email checking and reading email headers
- Unique IM interface to reply to messages while inside a game or other application
- Full control of supported media applications plus:
- Sophisticated song search by title, artist, or track number for supported media applications
- UltraSeek feature which automatically previews tracks in the middle of the song
- Audio volume adjustment for system and supported media applications
- Sports Scores– giving you real time sports scores
- RSS feed aggregate
- TeamSpeak Support - Finally see who's talking
- Real-time Stock Ticker with detailed stock information
- Real-time Network bandwidth usage
- Expansive system information (CPU usage/Memory usage/IP information/Disk drive usage/Processes and thread usage/Uptime, and TONS more)
- Worldwide weather information and 10-day forecast
- Quick Memo
- Pertelian Monitor for eBay - Auction Monitor
- Forum Watcher
- IRC Support
- Customizable hotkeys for quick and easy control
Supported Media and Communication Software
- Winamp 2
- Winamp 5
- Apple Itunes 6
- Windows Media Player 10
- AOL Instant Messenger 5.9
- Yahoo Messenger 7.0
- GAIM 2.0
- Windows 2000 or Windows XP
- Internet Explorer 5.0 or later
- USB 1.0+ port
- RAM 64 Megabytes (MB)
- Free Hard Drive Space 10 MB
- Microsoft .NET Runtime 2.0 or later
- Super VGA 800x600 or greater screen resolution
- Hitachi HD44780 based LCD character display
- LCD inside a compact 4.5" x 2.5" x 0.85" enclosure
- New larger LCD display sporting 20 columns by 4 lines text display with font size 5x7 dots
- Built in characters plus 8 user defined characters
- Electroluminescent light green backlight
- Also includes Velcro attachment
- Includes custom stand
- USB 1.0+ interface
- Communicate over USB interface with attached 6' cable
First lets take a look at the hardware, the unit I received was a sample and did not come in a retail box (Sorry, no shiny package shots for you guys). It also didn't come with a driver CD but that's OK to, it is available for download on the website. Retail packaging and driver CD's will be included with the full retail order. What I did get is the Pertelian X2040 LCD, a stand and some "hook and loop" tape (AKA Velcro).
The X2040 is a Hitachi HD44780 4 x 20 LCD, 4 x 20 meaning it can display 4 horizontal rows of text and 20 vertical columns. Any text displayed that is over 20 characters in length will scroll horizontally to display it all. As you can see from the picture above, unlike other LCD's like the Matrix Orbital or Crystalfontz it is an external unit with its own plastic housing and it connects to your PC via a pre-attached 6' long USB cable. You can use the included stand to set the unit on your desk or use the Velcro tape to attach it anywhere you like.
The unit is pretty small measuring in at just 4.5" in length, 2.5" tall and a depth of less than 1".
Using the included stand the Pertelian X2040 fits nicely between your keyboard and monitor.
On the software side, things are pretty simple, you have drivers for the LCD and the software for controlling the LCD. Once installed, the Pertelian software runs in your system tray and that's where you do all of your configuration. There are only 5 screens for the software and setup is a snap.
Screen 1 below is the general settings screen, here you can set the welcome text (what displays on the LCD when it turns on), adjust media settings, enter network settings if you use a proxy etc.
Screen 2 is where you configure your e-mail settings, one of the functions of the Pertelian X2040 is checking POP e-mail clients, the LCD can then display the e-mail account info including number of new messages as well as the subject of the e-mail.
Screen 3 is for setting up hot keys.
Screen 4 is for configuring Instant Messenger support. Currently the X2040 supports AIM, Yahoo and Gaim, and it can notify you when a new message arrives and you can reply to messages using the X2040 screen rather than tabbing out of whatever you are doing to answer.
The final screen is where all of the available plug ins are listed, as well as where you configure each one. The unit comes with several core plug ins, but if you are handy with .NET 2.0 you can also write your own. I'll go over several of the plug ins in a few minutes.