First impressions are good. The display comes packed securely in a very sturdy box, so wherever you live on this blue planet of ours, you can be sure your MX6 will arrive in one piece. Sadly, the same cannot be said of every sample we receive. Everything comes neatly bagged, and the display itself has an extra layer of bubble wrap just to be safe.
The model we received dispenses with the old RS232 serial interface for the more modern USB. As standard, the MX6 comes with a USB cable which loops out the back and into a rear USB port (see installation). If you have internal, on-board USB headers on your motherboard, you can order the optional internal USB cable. This gives a neater result, and saves you a rear port. Both cables are sleeved in sexy silver braiding. Also from the options list is a pair of external temperature probes.
Straight out of the box, the MX6 displays the usual Matrix Orbital quality. Solidly built, it weighs a purposeful 180g or so with USB cable - this is certainly no cheap, flimsy Made In China plastic garbage. The chassis is made from 2mm steel and doesn't bend under stress. This model - the MX610 - has the multi-function keypad, but you can also buy the same display with a plain bezel for a cleaner look (MX620 / 630).
All displays in the MX6 series are 20 x 2, meaning there are two rows of 20 characters. Unlike many other Matrix Orbital displays, which use a Vacuum fluorescent display (VFD)
, the MX6 uses a Polymer LED screen. PLED has the advantage of lower power consumption, a very wide viewing angle (160 degrees) and a fast response time / pixel refresh rate.
Moving around to the rear reveals the inner workings. The PCB is in two layers: the first is dedicated to driving the display, while the outer layer handles I/O. On the left are three channels for the temperature probes, while next to it are three General Purpose Outputs (GPOs) which can be used for fans. There is also a floppy drive power connector if more power is required than the USB port can provide - 150mA for an unpowered hub; 500mA from a high powered USB port.