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Philips to play monopoly?

Ronald Hanaki
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Many of you out there have been bemoaning Creative Labs’ monopoly of the sound card market. Their constant revision of the Sound Blaster line of cards is reminiscent of Capcom’s inability to count to three with their Street Fighter 2 serial of games. Creative has even managed to produce the Sound Blaster Live! Platinum 1394. Yep, firewire. So where is the innovation going to come from? The alternative to CL has been the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz but Sharky Extreme has got a review of a card that is a possible contender.

Philips’ presence in the PC industry has been low-key for the most part, but their command over the semiconductor and consumer electronics space is rivaled only by a few of other large manufacturers. Eager to make a positive impression on the PC enthusiast, Philips’ has packed their flagship sound card, the Acoustic Edge, with loads of features that promise to make the gaming and theater experience more immersive than ever. The Acoustic Edge offers the same 5.1 digital and analog support as its new competitors, but also makes the bold promise of expanding stereo sources into distinct 5.1 surround channels. If Philips’ flagship product is able to indeed “turn something into nothing” and effectively deliver an impressive feature-set, then there may be a new high-end sound card champ.

Let’s hoping that the Philips Acoustics Edge 5.1 can introduce a modicum of competition to a sound card market in doldrums. Other alternatives may sprout up. A week ago, VIA reached an agreement to buy IC Ensemble.

Via said it will buy the assets of IC Ensemble Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Santa Clara, Calif.-based IC Ensemble specializes in designing high-performance analog and mixed-signal ICs for consumer and professional audio applications. IC Ensemble’s major products include audio codecs and multi-I/O controllers for a wide variety of PCs, peripherals, and consumer electronics devices, the companies said.

Comdex played host to a variety of audio solutions.
Here’s hoping that some of that technology will migrate to the PC.

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