Chess eBoards Part 2: My Millennium

So here is the blog post you all have been waiting for! (I say that jokingly)

In my last post, I documented my journey that led me to my current eBoard: The Millenium ChessGenius Exclusive ... Wow, that's a lot to type. I will just call it my Millenium for this post.

So here is what you get for about $599:

You get the eBoard itself, which they claim is a "handcrafted wooden board." I'm not so sure about this. It looks like wood for sure, but it doesn't really feel like wood. Maybe the frame is wood? Not sure, but the board itself has a plastic-ish feel to me. But aesthetically it looks good and it feels good.

You also get wooden chess pieces for the board. Thankfully, these are real wood for sure. The craftmanship leaves a bit to be desired. Take a look:

A close-up picture of the Knight:

So the pieces are what I would expect to come with a $30 wooden board set from Target. Unfortunately, Millenium does not sell the chips individually like some eBoard companies do (Certabo).

So let's talk about the size. The board itself measures 15.75" x 15.75" x .78", with each square measuring 1.625''. The size is acceptable, but I do personally prefer a larger board with at least a 3.75" king. But at about half the price of larger eBoards, I was willing to make the tradeoff.

The board uses bright, red LED lights that are located at the corner of each square. I really think they did a good job with the lighting and the move indicators. The lighting was a must for me.

Unfortunately, there is no option for the board to come with notation. So using vinyl letters a pair of forceps, I meticulously added my own:

The chess computer it comes with is pretty limited in terms of features. Okay... I'll be brutally honest. The chess computer itself is useless to me. You can't connect it to anything so you can't save your games or load PGNs, etc. Personally, I would have preferred to have saved some money and buy JUST the board itself and connect it to other sources, but this wasn't an option (that I could find). So the original chess computer sits unused in a box. So what do I use? I'm glad you asked...

Where the board really shines is when you connect it to something else! To do this, you need to purchase a Millenium Chesslink module ($99):

Once you have Chesslink, it opens up a whole new world for the Millenium. It will allow you to connect to different devices via Bluetooth or serial USB.

First, I connected it to Chess for Android (free). I found the software a little clunky, so I played a few games but wanted to explore and see what else was out there.

I then installed HIARCS on my iPad ($9.99) and that worked INCREDIBLY well! You can dial in the ELO rating you want the engine to play at, and it worked beautifully! HIARCS, unfortunately, is not available for Android platforms.

Since I was enjoying the iPad version of HIARCS so much, I went ahead and purchased HIARCS for the PC ($59 base version; $99 for full version).

So here is something strange about HIARCS: the Mac version supports Bluetooth, but the PC version does not. Instead, the PC version requires a USB serial cable. So I went and dug up a USB serial cable from the bowels of my Giant Box O' Cables and connected the eBoard to my laptop.

So far, HIARCS for the PC is running great with my Millenium. Like the iPad version, you can dial in the ELO you want to computer to have. I also had it load a Fischer vs. Spassky PGN file and the Millenium's LED system walked me through each move. I love this!

Can I connect with online Chess game sites? I'll be honest, I haven't researched this yet. I'm doubtful, though.

So in sum, I am thoroughly enjoying my Millenium while connected to my Windows laptop and being able to use HIARCS to finely tune my computer opponent. Excluding the software, let's total the cost:

Board itself: $599 ... with 10% discount coupon, $540.

Chesslink: $99 ... with 10% discount coupon, $91.

Vinyl letters: $4

TOTAL: $635

To put this in perspective, I went over to the Certabo site which makes the only other board out there that has EVERYTHING I want: the size, the LED lighting, and higher quality pieces. The set over there would run me $1200 before shipping. But that's my dream board. Certabo has smaller boards comparable to the Millenium that are substantially cheaper; around $515 before shipping (if you use your own pieces).

In hindsight, would I buy it again? I don't know. With the Millenium, I feel like I paid extra for a chess computer I don't use. So had I known this, I might have given Certabo a more serious consideration.

But I do plan to enjoy my Millenium and HIARCS for quite a while! (At least until I finally decide to spring for my dream board)

Do you have any experience with any eBoards? If so, please share them in the comments below!