Creative Labs Makes Noise

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For Macintosh gamers, the good news keeps coming. In the past year alone, game enthusiasts have seen enhanced graphics, stronger support from developers, and a slew of new games. And now the leading maker of PC sound cards is taking its act to the Macintosh.

Creative Labs (800/998-1000, ) will release Mac versions of its Sound Blaster Live line of sound cards, some of the most common and compatible sound cards for PC users. Creative estimates that more than 60 percent of all PC audio systems use the company's Sound Blaster technology.

New Options

Unlike PCs, Macs have always come with built-in sound. But Mac users who wanted to improve the quality of their built-in sound systems found they had few options. The lack of a quality consumer-level sound card hit Mac gaming enthusiasts especially hard. Creative's move to the Mac should change that.

The company's decision is another sign of Apple's resurgence. Indeed, Creative cited the Mac's recent good fortunes and the success of the company's own personal-digital-entertainment products as the reasons it decided to broaden its reach.

Sound Blaster Live cards for the Mac are set to debut in the second quarter of 2000. They mirror the cards Creative makes for the PC. The Sound Blaster Live X-Gamer promises better gaming through digital sound. The Sound Blaster Live MP3+ is Creative's sound card for Internet music. The Sound Blaster Live Platinum combines the strengths of both cards to support games and MP3 files.

Souped-Up Sound

So if these are just Mac versions of existing PC products, what's the big deal? Creative says Sound Blaster Live cards add environmental audio, surround sound, and a level of realism not currently available from the Macintosh. "People want a high-quality audio experience," said Craig McHugh, president of Creative Labs. "They shouldn't be limited to what comes in the desktop."

The cards are powered by Creative's Emu10K1 processor, which handles sound and effects in real time without any drop in quality, leaving your computer's processor free to tackle other tasks.

Going Nomadic

The company also plans to release Mac versions of products from its personal-digital-entertainment line. It's launching its WebCam Go camera and its Nomad portable MP3 player in February. Both products may already be available by the time you read this.

The portable WebCam Go doubles as a digital still and video camera. In addition, this USB device can capture images off the Internet and download them into e-mail and reports. Creative's new portable digital-audio player, the Nomad II, lets users download and listen to MP3 files. The company touts the reprogrammable device as "future proof," meaning it will let users upgrade to future audio-compression standards via downloads. The Nomad II doubles as a voice recorder and has a built-in FM tuner.

Creative plans to keep Macintosh sound-card prices in line with what it charges for PC products–$99 for the Sound Blaster Live X-Gamer and MP3+, and $199 for the Sound Blaster Live Platinum. The WebCam Go will sell for $149. Prices for the Nomad II will range from $199 for the no-memory version to $399 for the 64MB model.

April 2000 page: 28

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