VL System Lost In Space LCD Display
Installation of software was a breeze, like most programs. You may choose to use the software included with the kit or check VL System?s site for software updates. For this review, we used the most current version of the L.I.S. software (Ver 22.214.171.124). After installation, I opened up the program to begin the configuration process.
Immediately after opening the software, I was greeted with not only the screen seen above, but the little purple/green/red icon shown to the left of my AIM icon. Don?t be alarmed, this is just for the LCD software!
The instruction manual included with the L.I.S. LCD focuses mainly on software installation and configuration of the LCD, so I will cover each section briefly and leave it up to you to read the manual after you buy one of these killer setups. For initial configuration, I started at the ?setup? tab. Here you will configure things such as size, LCD controller, location (com port), and a greeting AND exit message for when the LCD is turned on and shut off. I thought the greeting and goodbye message option was pretty cool. Making the LCD say something like ?Hello Master? when it?s turned on will surely impress the ladies?or maybe not. For all other configuration, most of yours will look the same as seen in the screenshot above. The ?Display Time & Date Selection? is another awesome feature added to the LCD. You can select the format used to show the current time and date?my favorite was the option farthest right (Time CG) which are big block letters that only show the time.
Next, I moved to the ?Test? tab, which is recommended in the written set of instructions. You can conduct a string submission test to make sure that the LCD is communicating with the computer correctly. If it is, you will notice after hitting ?submit? that the line of text you typed will appear on the display of the actual LCD. You can test strings on both lines of the LCD. This is really the only way that you are able to put your own text on the LCD as well; there?s no specific tab dedicated to typing a message to show on the LCD, like in other popular LCD software.
Here?s a shot of the ?R.T.C.? or Real Time Clock tab. This tab shows CPU clock, CPU Manufacturer, CPU type, and CPU ID. It also displays raw frequency, normal frequency, and the average of both, and this is one of the sections in which I noticed a bug. I installed the LCD on my Dual Pentium-3, 933Mhz server but for some reason the software read it as ONE processor at 1233Mhz. I notified VL System about the bug, but they never responded to my e-mail; I guess they have better things to do.
Next is the more general information on the CPU and information on your system?s RAM setup. This is found in the ?CPU/RAM? tab. This is the tab that displays system usage such as CPU usage, RAM usage, virtual memory usage, etc. You can select the number of seconds between statistics updates using the slider at the bottom of this tab. I set mine to 8 seconds so that it uses fewer resources while running in the background.
In the ?MBM? or Motherboard Monitor tab, you have the option of displaying information collected from the famous MotherboardMonitor5. This is a third-party program which is not included with this kit, but I highly recommend. The program displays everything from voltages to fan RPMs, and even temperatures! You will notice the slider which will again change the number of seconds between updates. All of this information can be output directly to the L.I.S. LCD, if you run the program and activate this tab. You even have the option of selecting specific temperature probes rather than all, if you wish. Options are a must in LCD software! If you don?t run MotherBoardMonitor5, but do choose to activate this tab, you may experience some problems.
The ?Winamp? tab is by far my favorite. This tab is actually a Winamp plug-in, which needs to be manually enabled through Winamp, a popular mp3 and audio player. You can also control the player with the buttons located here. The Winamp visualization plugin is what allows VU meters on the LCD to be displayed in real-time with the music you are currently playing. I don?t know why, but this is always my favorite feature, no matter which LCD I am using.
The ?OS/Sys? tab in the LCD software allows you to choose which things you would like to show and not show when the OS/Sys information tab is actually activated. You can select which drives are monitored, the current operating system, version, which user is currently logged in, DirectX version, Internet Explorer version, network information and more. Did I forget to mention uptime?! You will again notice the slider at the bottom of this tab to change the time between updates of information. Keep in mind, the more time between updates on all of these tabs, the less CPU time it will use.
The ?Net? tab is probably my least favorite of all options available. In this tab, you can choose to make the LCD display something special, or even have the system play a sound when a new email arrives. The only problem for me is, with all the news coming in from affiliates, sponsors and friends/family, my speakers would be smoking by the end of the day! Not to mention that it wouldn?t have time to show me any other screens besides the one telling me I have mail. I decided to leave this feature disabled, however you may choose to use it and like it. Once again, the flexible options are a must!
Ahh, finally! The final tab known as ?User.? This tab allows you to choose which of the tabs that you have just configured to actually enable! You can add, remove, adjust, etc from this window. I like to keep my LCD display simple with just a few items. I took this picture before I actually configured mine, but I usually limit mine to Winamp, Time, CPU usage and RAM usage. This makes it so when I DO actually want to see something from another screen, it doesn?t take ten minutes to cycle through all of them back to it. You can also change the time between each slide to be shown. One thing I dislike about this section is that some of the items that you may choose to display are VERY general. For example, ?user? will show everything from the user tab, you are unable to just choose one or two things from that tab that you want to show. This makes things a little bit cluttered and slightly more difficult.
There ya have it folks, installation of the software was quite a lengthy process, but it always is with LCDs; there are just so dang many options that it?s hard to make it a 2 minute installation. You will notice that every tab in this software was loaded with options, and options are what make LCDs so unique. You can take just about anything on your computer and output it to an LCD display, and that?s why I love playing with and reviewing them so much! You will notice that there were no options for turning on and off the backlighting through the software, which is good, because it?s unnecessary! This LCD, unlike many others, is already configured to turn it off with the front button. I was, however, a little disappointed to see that you are unable to configure the front buttons for different purposes other than turning the LCD and backlighting on/off.
Now that we?ve got the LCD installed and the software configured, let?s take a look at what it looks like in the dark! Check out the next page for pictures of the LCD in action?
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