Add surround sound to any netbook, notebook or other computer
Just about every desktop computer today includes three 3.5mm ‘headphone’ sockets on the back that can, when connected to a suitable set of speakers, produce six-channel (5.1) surround sound.
If you have a laptop, surround sound is more rare. Creative's X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro is designed to be a simple upgrade that will add high-quality surround sound to any computer, but it’s particularly useful for laptops.
The Surround 5.1 Pro is a small, shiny black box that connects using a single USB lead: no other power adapter is needed.
On the back you'll find the analogue surround sound outputs, plus an optical S/PDIF output for connecting it to a set of suitably equipped speakers or a hi-fi receiver. The side has headphone and microphone sockets, plus a line-level input for playing from an MP3 player, and there's a large volume knob on the top that can be clicked to mute the sound.
Setting everything up was simple, and in case your laptop or netbook didn't come with DVD software a downloadable copy of Cyberlink PowerDVD is included. The Creative Audio Control Panel allows you to set up your speakers, and also includes EAX – a customisable reverb system that allows you to make your music sound as if it's echoing around, for example, a concert hall, should you wish.
More usefully, Creative includes a small remote control in the box. This controls the volume, of course, but we liked the way it also works with Windows Media Center, so you can put your laptop by the television and browse music or films from the sofa.
The cost, £70, is fairly steep for a sound card, but there's no arguing with what you actually get in the box: it's a small, smart, simple device that does its job well.
If the price falls to nearer to £50 this will be a good-value buy as well as a great product.
Read more reviews
A simple laptop upgrade that works well, but the recommended price is high – watch out for deals online Good points Simple installation, analogue and digital outputs, remote control included Bad points Quite expensive
Updating your subscription status