It seems as though everyone is looking to put a twist on their netbook lineup as of late in order to stand out from the crowd. Dell tossed a TV tuner into its Inspiron Mini 10, OCZ unveiled a DIY netbook at CeBIT, and more recently, Asus announced its first optical drive-equipped Eee PC. Not to be left behind, Samsung's upcoming N120 netbook will come with integrated 2.1 speakers, and it's available for pre-order now.
Samsung still hasn't published an official product page for the N120, but that's okay, because a handful of merchants have coughed up the core configuration. And at this point, we have the basic netbook blueprint fairly well memorized. In addition to somehow managing to cram a subwoofer into a 10.1-inch netbook, Samsung's N120, available in either black or white, will come configured with Intel's Atom N270 (1.6GHz) processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and Windows XP.
Pre-order pricing has so far hovered in the $450 range with at least one site showing an ETA of April 14.
Creative this week unveiled its Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook, which as the name implies is an add-in soundcard for (cue the drum roll) notebooks. But wait, doesn't Creative already offer an X-Fi geared towards road warriors? The answer is yes, and the X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook has been available for some time now, but this re-release sports a slimmer profile, a new color scheme, and the ability to transmit wirelessly.
That's right - when paired with the optional Creative Wireless Receiver, the X-Fi will have the ability to beam music to your speakers rather than remain tethered. The new soundcard supports up to 4 wireless receivers, and each one can be placed up to 100 feet away from the notebook.
The slimmed down peripheral fits into both ExpressCard 34 and 54 slots (previous version is 54 only), and brings the usual assortment of goodies to the table, including CMSS-3D, EAX Advanced HD, and Creative's Crystalizer technology. You get a pair of headphones bundled in, along with a free download of PowerDVD with full DTS and Dolby Digital decoding support.
Look for availability by the end of month, with the X-Fi Notebook priced at $80 and optional receiver commanding $70.
We were beginning to wonder if Creative would ever update its X-Fi soundcard drives to work properly in Vista, and after the whole Daniel_K fiasco, we were about ready to throw in the towel. For those that stuck it out, Creative has finally released a new driver package that fixes the hardware Dolby Digital and DTS decoding in its X-Fi cards running under Vista. The company also added DVD Audio playback, a feature that previously went by the wayside when upgrading from XP to Vista.
The new driver also addresses a niggling bug that causes system crashes when switching to an unsupported sampling rate in the Audio Creation Mode while Dolby Digital Live is enabled.
All X-Fi soundcards except the Xtreme Audio version are supported with the driver update.
Tritton’s headset delivers true surround sound, just like the Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA2 we recommended in June. It also offers a feature that the HPA2 doesn’t: a powered Dolby Digital decoder module with optical and coaxial digital inputs, plus a port for plugging in a second set of Tritton headphones. Cool!