Drivers and Software
The CD you receive with the Terminator 2 contains all necessary drivers for the system components, so you shouldn’t have any problems here. Utilities for monitoring and controlling the system come on this CD, too. You have probably seen some of them before, as they are not exclusively for the Terminator 2. Here is a list of them:
- ASUS Radio Player: for controlling the integrated FM-tuner;
- ASUS PC Probe: for monitoring temperatures, voltages and fan rotation speeds;
- ASUS Update: for reflashing your old BIOS;
- ASUS WLAN Control Center: for controlling and monitoring the wireless network adapter;
- Trend PC-CILLIN 2002: for protecting against computer viruses.
FM-Tuner and Instant Music
ASUS T2-P offers the user an interesting option – the integrated FM-tuner. When you are working with the computer as usual, you control the TV-tuner from the Radio Player:
The Radio Player allows searching for radio stations manually or automatically and keeping a list of radio stations where each entry consists of the station number, frequency and name.
Unfortunately I have to confess that these are all useful capabilities of the Radio Player. For example, the anticipated option of controlling the tuner with “hot” keys in the background is not available.
The second problem I encountered when using the integrated FM-tuner is the noise from the system components in the ordinary mode. When you move windows around the Desktop or access the HDD, you hear a hum and clicks in the speakers or headphones – the noise is easily heard during pauses in broadcasts.
The alternative operational mode of ASUS Terminator 2 makes this system look a relative of consumer audio devices. Let me explain. T2-P can work either like a regular computer or like a music box (Instant Music mode). In the latter mode, Terminator 2 can play audio CDs (regrettably, it can’t read MP3 files) and reproduce radio broadcasts, without booting up the operation system.
Instant Music is implemented in the following way: when the system switches into this state, the PSU turns on, and all system components receive their power supply. However, the system doesn’t boot up, but remains “frozen” as long as the Instant Music mode is enabled. You control the optical drive and the FM-tuner from the front panel (and from the keyboard, for audio CDs) and they send the audio signal to the inputs of the AC’97 codec, and further, to the audio outputs.
Instant Music is turned on/off by pressing the CD button on the face panel of the system case, while the Mode button toggles between the CD and the FM-tuner. I guess the purpose of other controls is clear when you are listening to audio CDs.
When you are using the FM-tuner, the play and stop buttons start and stop automatic frequency search (search is only conducted towards higher frequencies), while the fast forward/backward buttons choose one of nine frequencies stored in the BIOS or in the control chip of the FM-tuner.
Information about the system status in the Instant Music mode is shown on the LED display. When you are listening to an audio CD, it shows the track number and the track playback time. When the FM-tuner is used, the display tells you the station number and frequency. In the ordinary operational mode, or when the system is shut down, the display only shows the current system time.
So, the FM-tuner in the Instant Music mode and the alternative mode at large gave me enough pleasant impressions, but this same FM-tuner may disappoint you in the ordinary operational mode because of noise pickups and low functionality of the Radio Player.