When you finish cutting a sweet window in your new case, the best idea would be to find a way to ?accent? what?s inside the case with some color. When it comes to color inside the case, most people choose the plain cold cathode lighting, but let us not forget about the other options such as laser LEDs and neon of course! Why do we choose cold cathodes over the rest? Versus neon lighting, the cold cathode has been proven to be brighter, thinner and colder to keep those case temperatures to a minimum. IceeComputers.com was kind enough to let us check out their Sound Activated Cold Cathode kit. I have always heard about Sound Activated lighting, but never really cared for it much- in my opinion, it sounded cheesy so I had to see for myself what it was all about. Included in this kit was the blue cold cathode, cold cathode inverter, sound activated inverter, microphone and the cabling which allowed this to be connected to a molex straight from the power supply via 12Volts. After I pulled this product from the packaging, I was instantly confused with the big rats nest of wiring. There were so many cords and gadgets hanging from the inverters. After a couple minutes of straightening the cords, I was able to snap a quick picture and carefully take a look at each individual piece. Starting at the cold cathode bulb itself, I noticed the bulb was covered in clear acrylic tubing which most are. To me- this was a standard feature for all cold cathodes. I then noticed the cool angled feet attached at each end of the acrylic covering. These little feet allow you to attach the cold cathode to the bottom of the case and then the back panel for example. Small feature, but this would definitely be useful in cases where lighting should be concentrated on a specific area. Next I noticed the dual inverters ? the inverters included in this kit were somewhat bulky. Although they were covered in a solid plastic shell to protect them, it may be hard to fit these in some areas due to large size. Next thing I noticed was the PCI slot cover which had two switches attached. The switch on the left allowed the option of setting to cold cathode to work under sound activation, the next option was OFF and the last option was ON. The switch to the right of this one allows you to change the sensitivity of the little microphone so it won?t pick up noise from another room. I found this option to be pretty cool especially when I was able to make it respond to noises from across the room. One downside however is the inconvenient location of the On/Off switch. Being in the back of the case- every time I wanted to turn off the light, I had to reach around the back of the case and flip the switch rather than being able to just flip a switch in a 5.25? bay like I normally do.
After I finished jotting down a few notes on the product construction, I moved onto performance. After placing this cold cathode in my web-server?s case, I situated the cords, installed the rear PCI plate and stuck the little microphone near the front of the case where it would best respond to sound found in the room. The first thing I did was test the sound activation sensitivity at its lowest range. At lowest range I was able to pick up sound at about 5 feet from the microphone with a normal speaking tone. I then switched the sensitivity knob to its highest range and walked across the room about 20 feet away. Surprisingly enough, that little microphone was able to pick up my voice at a normal level and respond by flicking the cold cathode on and off. As far as accuracy of the sound response, it was fairly accurate. The one thing I was not very fond of was that you were forced to YELL in order to get the cold cathode at its full strength and there was no option to cure this. Another thing I didn?t like is that with the sound activation, the light is never as bright as it CAN be because it is never on long enough to warm up the gas inside the bulb.
The next thing I tested was the static ON option. Like most cold cathodes, this bulb lit up-dim at first but after about a 10 minute warm up period the light was at full strength. Once this bulb was at full strength I instantly fell in love with the color. This cold cathode?s color was a purplish-blue, nothing like I had ever seen. It was also brighter than my LIGHT blue ZXMods cold cathode! With this CCFL I was hardly able to bear the light without blinking-no joke. From personal experience, I was aware that it usually takes a couple hours for the inverters to reach full heat along with the bulb. I decided to wait 24 hours for this test, and I was VERY disappointed with the heat output. The back of the inverter was extremely warm, almost to the point of not being able to touch it. As for the bulb?s heat, once again I was very disappointed. The heat put out by this bulb had to be at least 2 to three times warmer than my existing cold cathodes, but still not nearly as hot as the inverter. This brought me to the conclusion that this is definitely not living up to the name COLD cathode, but if case temperatures are not a problem for you then have no fear.
All in all, I was a little bit shaky about this product. Being my first Sound-Activated lighting sample, I was certainly amazed by the range of sound response, but disappointed when the CCFL was switched to Static ON due to heat output. The brightness of this product was like nothing ever seen before, and the color was certainly an original blue. For $29.50, this product can be picked up from IceeComputers.com. In my opinion, this really is not terribly expensive- if you think about paying about $25.00 for the average cold cathode, you would only be paying about $4.50 more for sound activation.