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Hardware Review: Xenarc 700TSU USB Powered Touchscreen Monitor

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by , 10-13-2011 at 09:27 AM (10966 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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search for the displaylink driver-- that is the driver that these screens use. from what i understand, the driver is supposed to update only the parts of the screen that change, so the actual amount of data that is passing over usb is minimized.

i am currently using the 5.5 version of the software(their site is now showing a 6.0M1 version) with a 'older'(the driver says it was installed 3-19-11, so older in pc terms) usb screen and i have found that it works quite well. i have issues with dragging videos back and forth across screens while they are playing(the video image goes blank) but other then that, my screen is working great-- there is occasionally some small lag in some videos, but nothing really noteworthy..
The quality of a USB Touchscreen device compared to say a VGA Touchscreen of the same size is about equal, depending of course how much bandwidth you have available on the bus for the screen to utilize. The first generation devices sound alot like what you describe. Image quality and colors greatly suffered. But somehow (i dont know how) this 3rd generation of these devices are better optimized and as a result provide the rich color quality you'd expect. It's not going to compare to your home HDTV, but these USB monitors kick the crap out of most OEM and aftermarket add-in monitors you'll find today.
I've had dozens of 7" lcd's over the yrs and I've never run across 1 that needed only a USB connection. Does anyone know for sure how it's set up? The usb only would mean the video card (GPU) is inside the monitor, right? So the 5v USB power is being split off to power the 5v logic chips on the board, the lcd screen itself @ seperate voltage, the touch sensitive material and it's circuitry, plus a built in video card? I guess I've never studied up on USB current, but just a few years back it took a double headed usb 2.0 cable, using 2 usb ports just to power a USB self powered hdd, or dvdrw. Video cards used to be current hogs, maybe they have found a way to make them efficient? Even then, if you look at the bus speed your internal video card gets, and compare it to USB 2.0, USB is a fraction as fast. So you are sending the video signal at usb2 speed, plus the touch sensitive input device, plus all the code telling the GPU what to do with the video feed.... Just seems like a lot to ask of USB2.0, all that data, and all that power. Maybe they've found a way to do it, and make it work well, which would absolutely amaze me. I bought a usb external video card from a friend less than a year ago that he'd just paid a couple hundred for, supposedly the best usb gpu, and it's horrible. If these are anything like that thing, it seems you're giving up a LOT for a little convenience... EDIT: -> That sounded hateful after I re-read it.. I hope they're awesome, because if they are I'm gonna crack one open and see how on earth they did all that usb only!