updated 02:40 pm EDT, Mon May 12, 2008
Creative X-Fi Surround 5.1
Creative expanded its lineup to the underserved notebook audience with the Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1. The USB device is claimed as the first to both boost audio quality and output in full 5.1-channel surround sound; Dolby and DTS movies, as well as games that support surround through DirectSound or OpenAL, automatically have their video processed and split across a speaker setup. Compressed audio is also cleaned up through the Crystalizer hardware that Creative says restores lost details.
Multi-channel sound is sent either through multiple minijack connectors or through a single optical out cable for surround speakers that support the feature. Creative also notes that the extra demands don't affect power draw, as the new X-Fi is entirely capable of running from just its host system's USB bus. The Surround 5.1 model is already shipping worldwide and, in the US, sells for $60.