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.
Much has been made of the incredible speed advantages PCI Express offers over PCI. Beyond GPUs, however, we haven’t found much worthy of occupying those slots. Asus hopes to change that with its Xonar D2X card—the first soundcard we’ve reviewed that makes use of the PCI Express interface. The D2X is basically a PCI-E version of the Xonar D2 (reviewed April 2008). In our review of the Xonar D2 we lamented the card’s lack of advanced EAX support, something Asus has tried to fix here. But do their workarounds, well, work?
Who’d have thunk it? Long considered a dead zone, soundcards are making a resurgence. Driven by an outcry for audio that doesn’t sound like a box of snap, crackle, pop every time you access your USB ports, manufacturers are releasing new soundcards that surpass the free audio that comes with your motherboard. This month, we test an Auzentech card that uses a Creative Labs chip and Asus’s new entry into PC audio.
If you read our original review of the X-Fi way back in November 2005, you already know about this card. Back then, Creative packaged this exact same card with a drive bay and remote and charged an impossible to justify $280 for the X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS soundcard.