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Express Gate Adds "Instant Internet Access"

X48 Motherboard Comparison

The single new feature not found on previous P5E3 models is the Express Gate flash drive. Soldered directly to the PCB in place of a USB port found on previous models, it's preprogrammed with a Linux-based operating system that can be booted in less than five seconds.

The SplashTop operating system powers up before POST, offering "instant access" to an Internet browser and Skype. A timer gives the user ten seconds to make an alternative selection before the system moves to the POST screen. Three buttons near the bottom of the initiation screen allow users to bypass the timer for instant POST, jump directly to BIOS, or power the system off instantly.

Inside, users will find a GUI based on the Smart Common Input Method (SCIM) platform. It features various configuration options for the WiFi and dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers, plus the ability to set graphics resolutions of 800x600 through 1440x1050.

There's just enough flash memory to store configuration settings, but not downloads, so the Splashtop desktop should be well secured against most forms of malware.

Users not interested in Express Gate capabilities can disable the flash module from within the BIOS to further reduce boot times. Because the module isn't removable, there's no method for a builder to restore the functionality of the two-port USB 2.0 header beneath it.

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