External Sound: Creative Labs Extigy

For The PC Or For The Living Room?

The concept of an external sound card connected via the USB port isn't a new one. Both Altec Lansing and Microsoft have already offered USB-based solutions that made it possible to do without a sound card. Abit's solution was closer to that of Extigy, and the company had already developed USB Theater, a little box capable of decoding stereo sounds and Dolby Digital, though its functions were very limited.

For a price of $149.99, Extigy is now offering a great deal more. It is already producing the equivalent of a SoundBlaster Audigy Platinum in terms of connections. No other ports are suitable for use with sound cards, with the obvious exception of the SB1394 port, but that is of little interest since it has a limited bandwidth in the USB 1.1 version (1.5 MB per second).

Furthermore, this is a true Dolby Digital decoder that is independent of the CPU and can function as a standalone without being connected to a computer. It can be used as effectively on a PC as on a hi-fi system, a game console or even a full-sized DVD player. To summarize, the Extigy is much more than a mere deluxe USB card. It functions as if it is perfectly at home in environments that have nothing to do with computing.