Dev Hardware Recommended Today, we check out one of Gainward's newest products, the Hollywood@Home SoundXplosion combo pack. This pack includes a 7.1 surround sound external (USB) sound card and a set of 5.1 surround sound headphones, and features Gainward's Xear 3D technology. These two are aimed at gamers and movie fans, but will they like it? Read on to find out why we did. (Updated Sept. 16, 2004)
Video and sound -- once regarded as merely fancy extras on a home PC, they now define what is supposed to be the state of the art. Oh sure, a 1.5TB hard drive setup with 3Gigs of RAM and a top end Xeon might be well and good for the server room, but we're talking home PCs here, and if there's not a 7.1 surround sound setup with an NVIDIA 6800 isn't present then you're behind the times, bub.
Enter Gainward, a company that's made a name of itself with its computer multimedia products. The company's been around since the mid-1980's and has since become a prominent name in computer multimedia. Today, we take a look at a few new offerings, the Music2Go, a USB 2.0 connected Dolby Digital EX 7.1-channel surround sound external sound card, and the SoundXplosion 5.1 surround sound headphones. These two items come bundled in the Hollywood@Home SoundXtreme pack ($89.99), or individually at $59.99 for the Music2Go and $29.99 for the SoundXplosion headphones.
From our previous experiences, we know that both external sound cards and surround sound headphones are a tough sell, no matter how innovative the design may seem. External sound cards are often seen as bulky extras, and inferior to their internal counterparts. In addition, surround sound headphones are plagued by a string of less-than-satisfactory models, since software surround sound options don't really do what they're supposed to, and hardware based options are hard to come by.
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