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Sonicxtacy02

Hardware Review: Xenarc 700TSU USB Powered Touchscreen Monitor

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by , 10-13-2011 at 09:27 AM (10687 Views)

What is it?

The Xenarc 700TSU is a USB controlled and powered 7-inch touchscreen monitor with optional composite support.

The Verdict:

The 700TSU takes a pretty large leap forward into making USB only touchscreen devices available to use as primary monitors. It maintains the rather stellar build quality of other Xenarc devices, while reducing the number of cables needed to operate the display. It's rather bulky when compared to other USB monitors, but with that size comes some pretty nice configuration options the segment has not yet seen.

See the Xenarc 700TSU on the mp3Car Store here.



What’s in the box?

The Xenarc 700TSU comes packed with much more than most USB monitors include. There's the monitor, and a USB & composite (2 sets) cable for starters. Couple those with an optional 5v power brick, a cigarette lighter adapter, VESA mount, a full featured remote control, stylus pen, driver cd, and a host of operation manuals.


Description:

If you are a regular reader of the product review section, you may have noticed an abundance of reviews and videos regarding touchscreens recently. This is a great thing for the community, as newer touchscreens seem to come out regularly with better brightness, sunlight readability, cabling and power options. As a whole, we've seen a pretty dramatic evolution of these devices, and the Xenarc 700TSU attempts to keep true to that idea.

The initial concept we've seen before. The 700TSU is a 7-inch touchscreen monitor which can be powered and controlled solely by USB. This means instead of having to poke around for VGA, or HDMI plugs, one (or occasionally two) USB ports instantly power up and display your PC through this unit. This technology is available by use of a special driver suite called DisplayLink, and the 700TSU uses the latest version of this driver to display a clear and crisp image whether what's displayed is static or in motion.


This capability with DisplayLink in the 700TSU is the best I have personally seen. First generation devices left pictures dull and grainy, and made videos appear distorted and choppy. The 700TSU looks every bit as good as a VGA quality screen, and the controller for the 700TSU actually allows resolution options, again, a feat unseen in the USB segment before. Even at wide angles the 700TSU does an excellent job of providing a quality image.


Instead of settling for this enhancement in the device, Xenarc took a larger step forward by incorporating two sets of composite connectors. This allows for an even larger array of devices that can be used with this screen. Instead of requiring one USB, the 700TSU allows you to run one of it's two auxiliary power options to the screen and display the composite device, sound included. Xenarc was gracious enough to remember to include the auto-switch composite signalling, so that people who intend to install a backup camera still have that option available with the 700TSU.


The only drawback to all of this flexibility is the fact that the Xenarc, when compared to the other USB touchscreens, is quite large. That's not to say that it is ridiculously large. In fact, appearance-wise it looks pretty much identical to the Xenarc 700TSV VGA monitor. Only when compared to competing products from Mimo and Lilliput does the 700TSU's girth stand out. Remember though that with those competing devices all you get is USB.


The only other problem with the Xenarc 700TSU is an inherent problem with all USB touchscreens at this time. They all require the PC to be loaded with drivers to display. That means you get no BIOS, no windows loading notification, or anything until the DisplayLink drivers are up and running.

The Positive:

• High quality screen available with only a single USB connection
• Composite connectors allow for various installations
• Several different power options available
• Auto-switch with composite connection included
• Only USB touchscreen with a full configuration menu, brightness, contrast etc can all be set
• Resolution options are available, a first in the segment


The Negative:

• Size of display is large compared to competing USB screens
• That annoying wait for drivers to load before display works


The Verdict:

The 700TSU takes a pretty large leap forward into making USB only touchscreen devices available to use as primary monitors. It maintains the rather stellar build quality of other Xenarc devices, while reducing the number of cables needed to operate the display. It's rather bulky when compared to other USB monitors, but with that size comes some pretty nice configuration options the segment has not yet seen.

For more specifications on the Xenarc 700TSU click here
For a video comparing the Xenarc 700TSU with the other latest USB Touchscreens click here
For more pictures of the 700TSU click here

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Quote Originally Posted by VanMan69 View Post
Do these USB monitors play well with others? Considering combining two of these USB monitors with a VGA monitor in a multi-zone setup.
depends on how the other zone users will be using them. if you want them to just watch what you drag on their screen, yes. if you want them to be able to surf and pick files themselves, no. so this basically would defeat the purpose of half it's features. you just need a basic usb monitor with the internal gpu for the other zones. if you want them to be able to surf independently or pick files independently, the zone users would have to learn how to coexist together on 1 pc at the same time. plus you'd have to beef up your carputer. the onboard gpus would allow each monitor to view its own video from the single pc. you might have to install several different players, because most of them won't let more than 1 instance of the program to be run on the pc at 1 time.

I did end up buying and cracking open a few of these, and it wasnt very impressive. they didnt innovate much, they simply combined a couple things that were tried and true elsewhere in the computer world, and since they only need such a small resolution, it wasn't very hard. it would be almost worth the money if they externally powered it so they could give you a better onboard gpu and brighter backlight, and added much more memory to the gpu. I put them back together, boxed them up and traded them for a new hockey puck sized antenna for mobile satellite tv, like the ones made for RVs. it's starting to look like the best way these companies should be going is to just make tablet docking stations in the headrests and in the dashboard, and replace the carpc box in the trunk with a network attached storage / access point for them. the rolling satellite in my yukon is even starting to be antiquated when you think about it. as long as you're within range of decent cellular internet, all you'd need is to take your home satellite/cable dvr, which is already accessible via the net by slingbox or built in remote access in the receiver, and you have everything you need. I've seen impressive mobile internet hotspots, a 4" by 6" box in the trunk that pulls and bridges up to 3 4g high speed connections giving everyone in the car/bus/etc high speed net access. you wouldn't even need the onboard nas if you had that. then every user would have their own complete access to everything on your dvr at home, the net, all the music/movies on all the pcs in your house, etc. so I guess if you want to make money, start building headrests and dash board panels with ipad docks in them. sad to say, but that's probably the way it will be. my wife has so much time and info wrapped up in her ipad, I sometimes wonder if she would be able to function without it.
Do these USB monitors play well with others? Considering combining two of these USB monitors with a VGA monitor in a multi-zone setup.
Quote Originally Posted by Sonicxtacy02 View Post
USB has advantages over HDMI. Though they're far less bulky than VGA, HDMI connectors are about 2.5 inches long on the lilliput/xenarc devices when count from tip of the connector to the stress relief coils. In my car, installing an HDMI lilliput in my headrest would require me to use a right angle HDMI adapter just to fit. Even though would make the cable protrude into the padding in the front of the seat. HDMI cables are more rigid as well and as such dont bend the way a simple USB cable does. That coupled with the fact you dont have to supply separate power as well means USB touchscreens definitely have their place in the car.
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ok, I'll bite. I have grown partial to xenarc, but i don't like that one. I want a 3rd gen model w/o composite or dc jack, the same size as the others. I spent 5 years writing firmware and drivers for high end networked DVRs (16ch types for surveillance cameras). Much time was spent on the USB drivers, it was always a big decision which features to spend the USB 2.0 resources on. At first it was just for external drives (saving files / video clips transferred from hdd & attaching external usb hdd's to expand storage), then it moved on to networking the dvr's via USB. When you had 4 dvrs, connecting them together via usb made them act as one 48 channel dvr you could control with 1 joystick/control, and it would show up as 1 system when you logged on remotely over the network or internet. This required video feeds to be buffered across the usb between dvr's and allowed 1 dvr to be the master, giving it control over all of the video cards in the other dvrs across the same usb, So the same restrictions we faced with the dvrs they faced making these monitors. The playback had to be buffered because of the massive amount of code required just to operate the gpu's (video cards) in the other units. Since these monitors have internal video cards, the only thing I can think is they are using the onboard RAM to buffer the video. That, and they could be using one of the newer compression formats that weren't available (or stable yet) 5 yrs ago, like the h.264 format the current model dvrs use. The company permanently "loans" me the newest model still, until the next comes out, in exchange for me taking a look at the code some guy in India or Korea wrote for them @ $2.25 / hr. The new dvrs that have the h.264 compression blow everything else away by a long shot, so with the ram on the internal video card, and the giant leap forward in compression I understand it's possible, and now it's worth ~$400 for me to find out how exactly they did it. I've been rambling on about the data/bandwidth... I still have no idea how they are powering the circuitry, lcd, backlight, touch input device, onboard gpu, etc with the same amount of current that we could only manage to power a usb dvdrw/hdd or hardware compression circuit with. If it really stands up with a vga model, that has none of the power or bandwidth restrictions it's quite an achievement. Everyone that codes drivers/firmware for new usb devices has been frustrated by it's limitations, having that much going on, and coexisting peacefully on a usb2.0 cable is no small feat, and the fact that it's been done will influence the next peripheral bus standard, giving more attention to powering the devices it connects to. Like I said before, I have a $200 usb vga card that is garbage, I didn't think usb2 had the balls. I'm gonna order one of the other 2 models, check out the firmware and driver code, then crack it open on the bench and find out how much power each device is getting. It's a weird reason to order one, but I hafta know! -- Thanks for the reply -- eric