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Creative launches £40 USB Sound Blaster module

Plus: HP's new Compaq notebook

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MP3

Creative has launched Sound Blaster MP3+, a USB-powered audio playback and recording system.

The £39.99 unit is the size of a pack of cards and is essentially an alternative to a Sound Blaster add-in card. Suitable for notebook and desktop use, it packs in digital and analogue audio in and out, and can handle 16-bit sound sampled at up to 48kHz. Its headphone socket has its own volume control. A removable clip allows notebook users to hook the unit onto the back of their screens.

The Sound Blaster MP3+ ships with MediaSource, Creative's MP3 ripping and CD burning jukebox software. It provides a ten-band graphic equaliser for playback and supports Creative's EAX acoustic effects system and its CMSS virtual surround sound system for stereo outputs.

Sound Blaster MP3+ ships at the end of May. Expect other USB-based devices, targeting different user groups, to follow.

Notebook PC

HP today introduced its latest Compaq notebook, the nx9010, aimed at business users seeking an 802.11g-based wireless networking solution. That said, 802.11g support, using Broadcom's 54g technology, remains an optional extra rather than a standard feature.

Not that any feature seems standard - the nx9010 is offered with a range of Pentium 4 and Celeron CPUs, four HD capacities (30, 40, 60 and 80GB), a range of memory options up to 1GB of 266MHz DDR, three screen options (14in XGA, 15in XGA and 15in SXGA+), and CD, DVD, CD-RW and DVD/CD-RW options.

Fixed features include 10/100 Ethernet, 56Kbps modem, a Type II PC Card slot, 1394 port, three USB 2.0 ports, an S-Video connector and an ATI Mobility Radeon graphics controller which uses 64MB of main memory.

Prices start at $1549 in the US with the wireless option taken included. The nx9010 is available now. ®

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