The first time I saw a demonstration of Micro2000 products was during the 1999 COMDEX trade show in Toronto. I was fascinated by the Universal Diagnostic Toolkit's power and user-friendly interfaces. Easy as the program appeared on the surface however, just like an iceberg the real power of the program was not obvious during quick demonstrations at COMDEX.
The Micro 2000 booth staff superbly explained the advantages of their products and did their very best to convince me to buy. No doubt the product demo had already sold me. I was salivating over the PC diagnostic tools and the POST-Probe, but I left COMDEX without purchasing the toolkit, deciding to make a considered decision later. As useful as the product might be, I had managed to work without a multifunction tool kit for several years and the question that kept bothering me was whether or not the Micro 2000 utilities could really save my company time and money when servicing PC systems.
Micro2000's Universal Diagnostic Toolkit consists of two powerful PC testing tools, Micro-Scope and POST-Probe, packaged in a large, stylish, leather carrying case.
Micro-Scope is a universal PC diagnostic that runs a proprietary OS, which eliminates DOS limitations and inaccuracies and includes support for the latest processors from Intel and AMD, CD-ROM testing without drivers, advanced memory testing, and improved drive testing. POST-Probe is a universal Power-On Self-Test (POST) reader for the "dead" PC.
I have methodically tested and used the Micro-Scope PC Diagnostics software and the POST-Probe for several months on just about every brand name PC and PC clone on the market. The Micro-Scope software and the POST-Probe have functioned flawlessly during diagnostic testing on various makes of servers, desktops and laptops.
The Micro-Scope PC software comes with a 174 page, easy to read manual complete with well placed screen shots of each diagnostic process. Using the software is easy - insert the self-booting diskette into drive A, then turn on or reboot the computer.
The Batch menu allows a user to select and run combinations of hardware tests on various components, such as the motherboard, hard drives IDE & SCSI, RAM, video memory, serial and parallel ports. Users have the choice of running all tests, single tests or combinations of tests. Users can select many combinations of items to test motherboards, hard drive controllers, base memory and can even set Pass Counts for running burn-in tests on newly assembled computers.
Service companies can use Micro-Scope to create printed reports which contain the date, customer information and the results of all testing run on problem computers. The Utilities menu in Micro-Scope provides access to powerful tools including a floppy editor, fixed disk editor, SCSI/ IDE device editor, benchmark tests, master boot sector rebuilder, floppy head cleaner, debugging tools, and attribute toggles. The Post-Probe tool diagnoses problem computers which cannot successfully boot.
POST-Probe has a 13 LED pre-POST test, 2-digit POST code display and provides full PCI support. The kit comes with loop back plugs for running external port tests. The POST-Probe plugs into any available PCI or ISA, EISA slots on a motherboard. The kit also contains an adapter for a Micro Channel Slot.
Included with the Post-Probe is a comprehensive, 189 page manual which contains BIOS post codes for AMI, Award, AST, Compaq, Euro/Mylex, IBM, Microid Research, Mr BIOS, Phillips, Phoenix ISA/ EISA/MCA, Phoenix 4.0, and Quadtel. The Micro2000 POST-Probe is a state of the art diagnostic tool, which has five LEDs to monitor power supply voltages (+5vdc to -12vdc) plus the clock, oscillator, reset and I/O monitor LEDs. In addition, the probe has two 7-segment displays to monitor POST codes as a system attempts to boot up.
In the service business, time is money. The Micro 2000 Universal Diagnostic Toolkit is worth its weight in gold for any service company. The cost of the product is quickly recovered because of faster turn around time when fixing problem systems. The product also helps control business costs simply because technicians are more accurately diagnosing what parts they require for system repairs. Service companies will avoid ordering the wrong parts then paying for return shipments and restocking charges. Accurately diagnosing problems the first time will definitely impress your clients too.
The Micro2000 Universal Diagnostic Toolkit has become a significant part of my field service diagnostic kit.
Update October 11, 2005:
Nearly five years have passed since I wrote the article on Micro2000's Universal tool kit, and I still remember watching in awe as the Micro 2000 booth staff-demonstrated the toolkit during the Toronto COMDEX. Having purchased limited software testing programs in the past I wondered if Micro 2000 Universal tool kit would live up to the hype and really pay for its self in a real world working environment. Thus when the opportunity test and review the product I took up the challenge to both shop and field test this "wonder kit."
The universal toolkit was a bit of a learning curve, and I had some difficulty setting the jumpers on the post card. However, thanks to Micro 2000's super tech support staff help we soon had the minor glitch corrected-it does pay to read the book first. In the beginning I set out to prove that repair shops did not need a toolkit to diagnose computer hardware problems.
It was not long until a PC with unusually printing problems came into the shop; usually this is a software issue. But in this case the problem was harder to diagnose and after a good half hour the problem was not being pinpointed. The PC testing software we used at the time detected no hardware errors. At that point I decided this problem PC is an excellent test for the Micro2000 universal tool Kit.
The Universal tool kit comes with loopback plugs for port testing and I inserted the LPT plug into the PC printer port LPT1 and put the diagnostic disk into drive A: and booted up the PC. Once the Micro-Scope Universal Diagnostic software booted we ran a test on the ports. Within seconds the software detected a defective LPT1 port on the PC. From that point forward the Micro2000 Universal Tool Kit has become our main PC testing tool.
In years that have followed since my article the tool kit has detected hundreds of faults in hard drives, motherboards, video cards, sound cards, floppy disk, and memory chip errors etc. In addition the tool kit can quickly and with precision locate problems with partial or non booting motherboards.
There is no doubt in my mind the value of Micro2000 Universal Toolkit for any service shop, technician or consultant who needs to test computers in the shop or in the field. Testing is more reliable and the Micro2000 Universal toolkit will pay for itself just by time saved diagnosing hard to locate problems.