First off, before I get very far into this article, I'd like to take some time to thank Massworks for their efforts and patience on my behalf. For reasons which will become clear toward the end of this review, the testing for this device has been, well, rather involved. At the same time, the time has also been rather slow in going.
When I first heard about the Massworks ID-75, I was ecstatic and filled with geeklust. I mean, lots of us these days have our own little special touches with our computers. Some have their neon lights and windows, while others have special LCD computer status readouts mounted in their drivebays. Other people have gone as far as putting computers in their cars for use as MP3 players and other such assorted functions. The Massworks LCD controller is such a device that evokes within us the primordial Lego-building instinct: to come up with all sorts of cool and nifty uses for it! Any of you who own more than one Cue:Cat know *exactly* what I'm talking about.
Previously, if you were a geek and wanted to adapt an LCD screen to your desktop system for whatever reason, you needed to have some pretty serious electronics background, and some serious dough to shell out for parts from your Maxim or Digi-Key catalogs (That's Maxim ELECTRONICS, guys…). After that, break out the soldering iron, and then your favorite developer toolkit, since you'd have to write yourself an interface/driver set to be able to use your new-fangled hardware. The Massworks ID-75 LCD controller changes all that.
The first thing you'll obviously notice about the Massworks ID-75 is its LCD screen. The screen measures 5.1" on the diagonal, and has a native resolution of 320x240. The LCD screen is a relatively inexpensive passive-matrix type, so don't expect anything sharp enough to watch a DVD on. Still, it helps to keep the costs down. A higher-quality LCD screen would drive up the costs even more, and you'd be a lot more heartbroken about it if you pushed those pixels a bit too hard one day.
The Massworks sits on an angled support bracket that's adjustable to 21, 28, and 35 degrees. Adjustable is your call though. Personally, it took me three or four minutes to attach the bracket to the device, and a nice bit of fighting to adjust the bracket itself. The plastic is lightweight, but it's VERY rigid, and was VERY resistant to being bent or pushed in where it needed to go. Furthermore, the adjustment of the bracket within a 14-degree range just doesn't make much of a difference. I always used the ID-75 at 35 degrees because at anything less I was afraid to topple it over. The ID-75 is designed this way, though, and sits at such a steep angle so as to prevent overhead glare from interfering with screen visibility.
The back of the device has a small cooling fan as well. This is very nice, as it ensures the longevity of the device, but while the specifications say that it's included to help reduce "LCD smear", don't be fooled. LCD devices don't generate that much heat. Take a look at your laptop screen and tell me where the ventilation holes are. It's actually the core logic that runs the device that's generating all that heat. Still, without knowing what kind of processing components are in the ID-75, it must be running some serious number crunching to merit an active cooling solution.
Here's a look at what's in the box.
Relatively simple offerings. Strangely enough, the CD for the ID-75 managed to escape that photograph, but for those of you who haven't guessed it by now, yes, the ID-75 does come with drivers. It also includes the AC adapter and a USB A-to-B cable. No extra frills or anything, but that's probably a good thing considering how much the device costs.