Creative Labs Extigy

External sound card

The arrival of Creative Lab's stylish, external Dolby Digital 5.1 SoundBlaster audio solution answers the prayers of many notebook users who have put up with inferior sound. It is more than just a PC peripheral, as it can be used as a stand-alone device for multiple digital and analog devices. In addition, the Extigy provides a variety of analog and digital connectors including coaxial and optical S/PDIF and MIDI DIN in/out.

The device connects to a PC or notebook via a USB interface, and then is automatically configured as the primary audio device without the user being required to uninstall, remove or tamper with the existing sound card and setup. Nonetheless, you should set aside at least half an hour to install all of the bundled utilities and applications.

Technical specs are impressive with the incorporation of 24-bit/96KHz audio output with a signal-to-noise ratio of 100dB. This is a vast improvement over standard 16-bit cards with signal-to-noise ratios averaging around 85dB. The Extigy also comes with Dolby Digital hardware decoding for DVD movies, games and music, and is certified compliant by Dolby Digital Labs. Its system utilises Creative Multi-Speaker Surround (CMSS) technology to convert stereo to virtual 5.1 sound, so you can use two to six speakers and achieve surround sound quality.

The retail package that ships with the Extigy includes a power supply, USB cable, remote control unit and batteries as well as a swag of software including the Creative Software Pack, MixMeister for mixing your MP3 files and iM Tuner for accessing Internet radio.

Creative's Extigy is easy to install, simple to use, and gives all of the functionality of a quality internal sound card, plus it is bundled with great software and can be shifted from system to system as the need arises. The price of $399 is less than some higher-end sound card solutions for desktop PCs and provides excellent value for money.

Creative Labs Extigy *****

Innovative, portable and comprehensive external "sound solution combined with stand-alone capabilities make this a very appealing product.

Price: $399.

Phone: (02) 9666 6100.

URL: www.australia.creative.com.

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Spiro Hionis

PC World

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