Conclusion - Best Design For The Long Term!
The FrontX by far offers the best front port panel design that we have seen. Once installed, it uses the same kind of pass-through design found in other units in the same product family. We really liked the fact that the FrontX offers both internal and external connectors that can be used for a variety of applications.
Perhaps one of the best ways to use the FrontX for USB 2 and 1394 Applications is to use the internal USB 2 and 1394 connections that are offered on a card similar to the Adaptec DuoConnect. This then allows you to hide the cables within the system, rather than having to run them out the back of the unit.
The FrontX unit isn't widely available for retail purchase in stores as an off-the-shelf product, which has limited the availability and advertising for this product. The unit is available for purchase at FrontX's web store, located at http://www.frontx.com/order1.html The FrontX web store is currently offering free shipping, which helps offset the cost of ordering the unit online.
In the configuration that we tested, the entire FrontX package was about $70 US, which was a little higher than one might want to pay. That said, however, the flexible design and capabilities of this unit, and the fact that you need to use fewer ports, do bring the FrontX price down to a more affordable level. And, as your needs increase and you need more capability, it is possible to remove the unit and add the ports as you need them, which is another cost savings to consider.
Overall, we give the FrontX a big 'thumbs up.' It is the best front-mounted port solution that we have seen so far. Its 'Lego type' flexibility is so unique that it is hard to imagine a better design. Most products today offer rigid designs that don't allow users to customize the product at all to fit their needs. It was a very pleasant surprise to finally test and use a product that can be customized and that offers a truly useful design with consumer needs in mind. It is our hope that we will see more products like FrontX in the future.
When compared to the Enermax EN-006-TM1 that we reviewed in our last article, the Enermax does offer the additional temperature-monitoring feature at a price that is a lot less than the FrontX. If price is your overriding concern, you still might want to opt for the Enermax solution. The FrontX, on the other hand, is directed toward the user who wants the ultimate in design flexibility. If flexibility in use is the overriding concern, the FrontX clearly delivers a better value in that regard than does the EN-006-TM1.
For front-mounted port solutions, the FrontX receives a THG Editors' Choice recommendation, and is an exceptional buy for its quality and unique design.