While most of the hardware vendors were over in Las Vegas bundling up what remains of their stands from e3, Chaintech held their Chaintech: Reloaded event on Saturday May 17th. The Matrix-themed conference allowed members of the press (both online and offline) a chance to learn about the companyís history, their present line of products and how Chaintech is striving to become one of the companies consumers will favor. A few of other vendors also had stands at the event such as NVIDIA and AMD (which failed to show up at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances) as well as memory manufacturer Corsair and software developer Intervideo, known for their famous WinDVD suite.
The event commenced with registration on Friday, where all the members had a fairly pleasant meet and greet ceremony. Most of the media attendees were meeting for the first time and it was fun to finally connect the person with their work. The chit-chat ran from learning about the other editorís backgrounds to the seemingly overwhelming amount of Canadian attendees (although we only ended up being about one-third of the group) and the joys of various hosting problems. Chaintech representatives were cheerful and fairly proud about their event going on as planned.
Guests were treated to various Cajun plates and drinks. Then it was off to Bourbon Street in the French Quarter to enjoy the New Orleans nightlife. And enjoy we did. Those whoíve been to New Orleans know exactly what Iím talking about. The nightlife there seems to be quite unique. And itís all due to one thing: bead necklaces. Apparently a remnant of the festive French tradition of Mardi-Gras, beads are presented to others in exchange for *ahem* small sexual favors, be it a hug, a kiss or the most extremely popular "flash". Of course, this rather outrageous behavior is almost encouraged by allowing public consumption of alcohol. Yep, you can walk the streets with a beer (or harder stuff if you prefer) as long as itís in a plastic container.
New Orleans is famous for a number of alcoholic drinks that all visitors should savor; the rum-based Hurricane which is quite rampant and Tropical Isleís Hand-Grenade. According to Tropical Isle, the Hand Grenade is New Orleansís most potent drink (be it in alcoholic content or on the hit your senses take once youíve finished one of these).
Saturday was the big day. After a breakfast disturbed only by surges of laughter as the stories of the previous night were shared, the two hour Chaintech information session began.
The presentation started up with a brief history lesson on the evolution of computers which allowed Chaintech to demonstrate their first product; the 286-12, a motherboard for the 286 platform circa 1986.
Next on the agenda was a brief introduction to Chaintech. They displayed pictures of their headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan as well as their manufacturing facilities in Dong-Guan, China.
Chaintech briefly displayed some of their upcoming Information Applications products which features a couple free digital to air satellite receivers, an upcoming portable "desktop" computer along the lines of a DeskNote, although with exchangeable components as well as some digital TV PCI adapters. Among particular interest is the D-A-DTT-1000 which will allow owners to watch both digital and analog TV on their monitors. At the moment, no other adapter supports both formats.
Onto the other goodies...
Chaintech displayed their current motherboard lineup which consists of three separate divisions: Zenith, Apogee and Summit.
The Zenith series is focused on the enthusiast and power user. The Zenith series motherboards are manufactured with the highest performance chipset at the time of their manufacturing along with a number of extra add-on features which may be exclusive to the high-end Zenith division. There is only one Zenith board per platform at one time. Chaintech manufactures motherboards for both AMD and Intel flavored CPUs. As I write this, Chaintech is manufacturing their new nForce2 Ultra 400-powered motherboards for their AMD Zenith motherboard, while the Intel Zenith will be featuring the new i875P Canterwood chipset.
The first slide shows the current series of Zenith boards (nForce2 and i845PE) as well as what they will eventually be replaced by (nForce3 and i875P). As previously mentioned, the Zeniths arrive with quite a bundle of goodies, such as color-matched rounded cables, CBOX3 and Handigator.
The CBOX3 is a neat "port-extension" accessory which allows all Zenith owners the ability to connect some USB2.0 and Firewire devices to their system without the hassle of reaching behind the machine. It also replicates the audio ports to quickly connect a microphone or headphones to the computer. Notable additions of the CBOX3 over its predecessors is the 6-in-1 flash media reader (MMC,CF,MS,MD,SDC,SM) as well as an infrared port for the Handigator. The Handigator is a remote which allows the user to access most of the fairly common features from a distance. The big dial moves the cursor around the screen, while a number of programs can be opened by a push of the quick-access buttons atop. The rest of the buttons are typically used while accessing various media players (i.e. chapter selection, volume etc.)
The Apogee series is armed to provide the best bang for the buck ratio. Chaintechís Apogee lineup is geared towards the gamer and overclocker. While the Zenith division is powered by the highest performing chipsets at the time, this doesnít necessarily mean the Apogee division is handicapped by second-tier chipsets. For example, the AMD Apogee lineup will also be equipped with NVIDIAís new nForce2 Ultra 400, but the Intel Apogee board will be sporting the recently announced, more economical i865 Springdale chipset. The Apogee seriesí bundle isnít as feature packed as the Zenithís, but thatís to be expected at the lower price point. The Apogee series also comes equipped with a CBOX "port-extender", albeit an slightly older version which lacks the 6-in-1 flash media reader and the Handigator.
Lastly is Chaintechís Summit series, which aims at providing the most economically priced motherboard built upon recent chipsets without all the extra bells and whistles bundled. Current motherboards in this field are based upon the i845 and P4X400 for the P4 side of things and the nForce 400 and KT400A for AMD-powered systems.