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Image courtesy Notebook Review
Creative takes X-Fi audio to the notebook sector

Creative Labs may have the entire PC desktop market covered with its extensive X-Fi product family, but the company has yet to bring X-Fi to the notebook realm -- until now.

Creative's current top notebook offering is based on its previous generation Audigy family. The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook is a PCMCIA-based card that provides THX certified 24-bit Advanced HD audio and 7.1 surround sound.

The new Sound Blaster X-Fi Extreme Audio Notebook card forgoes the PCMCIA interface and instead uses the Express Card interface. The card itself features an optical out/in jacks and a port for the breakout box to connect your speakers.

Creative hasn't released official specifications, pricing or availability for the new notebook card, but expect to see full details within the coming weeks.



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Interesting
By Jammrock on 3/23/2007 2:10:29 PM , Rating: 4
I'm surprised they skipped CardBus and went straight to Express. Since the Express card slots are just PCIe connections for laptops my guess would be a PCIe line of X-fi's coming out soon. It is about that time when Creative announces new products, so it all fits in nicely.




RE: Interesting
By RogueSpear on 3/23/2007 2:32:14 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice if this were to become an option on some laptops. I think Dell offers a (much) lower end SoundBlaster option on it's XPS line as an upgrade over the default sound. I just can't stand RealTek and Analog Devices anymore.


RE: Interesting
By therealnickdanger on 3/23/2007 2:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
FINALLY! I have been waiting for an ExpressCard soundcard for over a year (since I bought my Dell e1705).

quote:
I think Dell offers a (much) lower end SoundBlaster option on it's XPS line as an upgrade over the default sound. I just can't stand RealTek and Analog Devices anymore.

For the record, the "SoundBlaster" option on Dell notebooks is a joke, it is just a Creative software codec that overlays the on-board Sigmatel hardware. It uses CPU cycles to emulate SB hardware. Sure, it's nice to get EAX support, but not at the price of performance and a complete lack of audio output options. This mobile X-Fi card will greatly help us ExpressCard Dell owners out!


RE: Interesting
By noirsoft on 3/23/2007 3:19:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
FINALLY! I have been waiting for an ExpressCard soundcard for over a year (since I bought my Dell e1705).


Agreed. If they have Vista drivers and decently low-latency ASIO support, they definitely have a sale for my Dell XPS M1210. Right now MOTU seem to be the only ones with vista drivers for any laptop ASIO sound cards.


RE: Interesting
By RogueSpear on 3/23/2007 3:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for filling me in on that one as I don't remember they're mentioning that on the web site (Dell's). You just saved me however much money it is that they're charging for the option. What a rip off.


RE: Interesting
By therealnickdanger on 3/23/2007 4:24:57 PM , Rating: 4
Just so we're clear, it might not be all Dell laptops, just ones that list the option:

Integrated Sound Blaster® Audigy™HD Software Edition

If you get a laptop with a lot of CPU power, you probably won't notice the effect of the emulation, and the X-Fi "Crystalizer" audio enhancements and EAX might be worth it to some - although the lack of anything but stereo output on the laptop kills most of the advantages. The only proper solution is the discrete ExpressCard add-on. I'm sure Dell will soon offer this in their builds.


RE: Interesting
By Brainonska511 on 3/23/2007 2:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
That 'upgrade' that Dell offers is just software emulation. It is still a Realtek chip.


RE: Interesting
By Broadwing on 3/23/2007 5:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
That would kind of make sense, but just because it's Expresscard doesn't mean it's necessarily PCI Express. Creative has a long history of notebook USB 'cards', and this might just be the same idea crammed into the Expresscard form factor. Most (I'd dare say the vast majority) of Expresscard stuff out there is USB-based.


RE: Interesting
By noirsoft on 3/23/2007 10:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
Just to be clear: are you saying that "most" ExpressCard stuff just uses the pins to pass through a USB protocol to the peripheral, and thus is not using all the features and speed of the ExpressCard spec? I'm not criticizing, I just hadn't heard of this before and would like more technical info.


RE: Interesting
By Missing Ghost on 3/24/2007 2:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
ExpressCard is a format that combines a PCIe 1x and USB interface in the same slot.


RE: Interesting
By Broadwing on 3/26/2007 8:24:23 PM , Rating: 2
Expresscard has both PCI Express 1x and USB 2.0 on the card. A valid Expresscard can use either interface. Having looked at the spec, it's also VASTLY easier to design for a USB-only card, too.


RE: Interesting
By DanaGoyette on 3/23/2007 5:53:39 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, though Creative calls the Audigy 2 ZS Notebook a PCMCIA card, it's not -- it's Cardbus! I highly doubt they'd put an Audigy on ISA.

PCMCIA is to Cardbus as ISA is to PCI.

Oh, and that Sound Blaster Advanced MB is a software filter on top of the existing Sigmatel (not Realtek) chip.


RE: Interesting
By glennpratt on 3/25/2007 7:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
Cardbus = PCMCIA Type V


Do monkeys work at notebookreview.com?
By noirsoft on 3/23/2007 3:24:02 PM , Rating: 5
The original linked article says:

quote:
At the back we can find ports named "Optical Out" and "Optical In". I am not sure what these ports are utlized for exactly, but we will find out soon.


Now, I may not be an audio engineer, but my guess is that those ports are used for optical out and optical in?
I am totally confused as to the article's confusion.




RE: Do monkeys work at notebookreview.com?
By aos007 on 3/23/2007 4:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
Those are most likely combo jacks - i.e. you can connect headphones and microphones instead of optical cables. It would make sense for it to be so. But you can't know for sure from just pictures. That's why the confusion.


By noirsoft on 3/23/2007 10:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
I own devices with just such combo jacks, so there is absolutely no confusion on my end as to what the jacks are on the new Creative card. I would have imagined a previewer would also know about them. If they are so out of touch with what PC hardware is out there, why are they doing the tech previews? It just seems to be a bit of sloppy journalism.


Not so essential.....
By crystal clear on 3/24/2007 9:10:33 AM , Rating: 2
Ok product-but not that essential-thats how I would summarize on this product.

X-MOD (creative)works great.

CAN DO WITHOUT IT-is the Conclusion.




RE: Not so essential.....
By cocoviper on 3/24/2007 2:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
Thats really easy to say until you've moved from good discrete audio on a desktop, to craptastic sigmaltel audio on your pci express based laptop...

not to mention not being able to play any 24-bit sound sources (DVD Audio?)

This DEFINITELY is a needed product.


RE: Not so essential.....
By crystal clear on 3/25/2007 2:18:08 AM , Rating: 2
It comes down to "Who the is the user" & Where???

Laptops as I know & use EXSTENSIVELY are basically for people on the move-Use anytime & anwhere.
At the airport,hotel lobby,driving to & from the airport(taxi),convention centres or any other place AWAY from your Office or your home.
At such places a card of this nature &/or 24 bit sound sources,is of NO USE-due to the suuroundings (noisy).

Yes if you, use your laptop as desktop(Office /Home) maybe its worth its
"PRICE & Place in the laptop."
OR if you use a laptop for sales promotions-demonstrations

By the way just how much will such a card, "ADD ON" to the price of the laptop?{nobody knows}

Assuming it expensive as its a NEW product-With that money(savings) I could use for other items more essential,to ME & the LAPTOP.
I could name a list of items that one NEEDS outdoor.
Just for a quote- additional battery pack,chargers,adapters,
cables,additional HDD (ext),disk on key & MORE.

Xmod is small/compact/efficient & cost USD 80 only if not less(depends where) & gives good quality sound & its
MULTI PURPOSE (CD audio & MP3 audio).

I demand like the majority -SPEED,HIGH PERFOMANCE,
RELIABILITY,COST EFFECTIVE LAPTOPS.

Try traveling in places like China,India,Taiwan,Hongkong
etc-the noise/poluution plays hell with you.


RE: Not so essential.....
By crystal clear on 3/25/2007 3:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
"It comes down to "Who the is the user" & Where???"

Sorry for the typing eror,should read-

"It comes down to "WHO IS THE USER" & where


Xtreme Audio Features
By AggressorPrime on 3/24/2007 8:50:38 PM , Rating: 3
Although this does help notebook users a lot by putting the X-Fi experience in their laps, it still lacks some features that make up the full experience (assuming its features are the same as the desktop version):
* No EAX 5.0 (Max of 64 voices vs 128 found on EAX 5.0)
* No EAX Hardware Acceleration
* No XRAM
(Those top two worry me.)




Wha?
By ricera10 on 3/23/2007 2:07:49 PM , Rating: 2
Hell just got a lot colder...




Ports
By aos007 on 3/23/2007 2:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
I am guessing that the output/input ports are combo jacks - the output has also headphone icon next to it while the input has mic icon. In other words, you can connect headphones OR optical out into there, which was the case with previous Audigy ZS card too. Otherwise you'd have to use breakout box just to plug in headphones, and that'd be far too awkward solution for a notebook.




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