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On powering up, the display blinks with all its segments at you:

The display in its various modes:

   

   

Of course, the use of a “rasterized” display with an option of programming the output information (ideally, with plug-ins for popular media-players or some simple API) would make the system costlier and more complex, but I think there are enough enthusiasts to go for the expense. So, this opportunity, maybe optional, would be good.

The AC’97 ALC655 codec from Realtek is responsible for sound reproduction. Its characteristics, specified by the manufacturer, correspond to the today’s requirements and the sound will satisfy 95% of all the users. At the same time, the market offers much more advanced solutions from other makers, like the SoundMAX from Analog Devices. Considering the clearly-defined targeting of the MEGA 865 at being a kind of analog of a full-featured audio system, the use of a higher-class codec (although a more expensive one) would look more reasonable.

Of course, the demanding user may install a high-quality external audio card, either PCI or USB, getting some gains in computer games (for example, only audio cards from Creative now support EAX 3.0, while the ALC655 only claims to support EAX 2.0). However, the concept of the two applications – PC and Hi-Fi – becomes senseless then, since the Hi-Fi mode reproduces sound using the integrated audio codec only. Anyway, this is not a serious drawback – the ALC655 is good enough, especially considering the inherent limitations of the MP3 format and AM/FM broadcasting.

The receiver’s sensitivity breaks no records, but it is quite good at receiving the basic stations. Manual input of the broadcasting frequency is not supported, you have to browse them with the auto-scan feature. There’s also no indication of the receiving mode, stereo or mono. Audio CDs are read in the digital mode, via the IDE channel, to please the audiophile.

 
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