- Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum eX
Creative has had a reputation for making quality sound cards for some time, and the new Audigy certainly upholds this reputation. They are the evolution of the SB Live! with a lot more features and processing power. The Audigy comes in three flavors, the DE (Digital Entertainment), which is just the sound card and no extras, the Platinum internal, which has an internal Audigy Drive, and the Platinum eX, which has an external Audigy Drive.
The new Audigy comes with a whole host of new features including support for the new EAX advanced HD, which is like EAX 3, but won't have support in mainstream titles until later this year, 24bit music playback, the new Audigy processor, which has approx. four times the power of the EMU10K1 processor seen in the SB Live!, 100dB SNR, a handy remote controller and a whole host of new software. The Audigy Drive has a host of ports, which include Firewire, a whole host of RCA ports, Optical In/Out, headphone/microphone jack and midi In/Out.
The performance of the SB Audigy is excellent, both in terms of audio quality and CPU utilization. The Audigy is relatively new, so other companies haven't had a chance to put out competing products, but the Audigy is clearly the best sound card for mainstream users. If you're into serious things to do with sound, there are better cards for your needs, but for most people, the Audigy is perfect.
- Sound Blaster Audigy Digital Entertainment
This card is exactly the same as the one above, except it lacks the Audigy Drive. However, you still get the Firewire port, which is placed on the card itself. The card supports the same things as the Platinum, so you lose nothing there, and the performance is identical. The biggest selling point is the price, which is less than half the cost of the Platinum and Platinum eX.
If AUD$200 is still too much for a soundcard, the SB Live! is still an excellent card for an amazingly cheap price.
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- Sony 21" CPD-G520 FD Trinitron
Sony has been making exceptional monitors for some time now, and this monitor is no exception. This monster has a viewable screen size of 19.8", has an aperture grille pitch of 0.24mm, horizontal scan range of 30-130kHz, vertical scan range of 48-170Hz, max resolution is a gigantic 2048*1536 and it weighs a massive 64.7lbs, which is about 30kg's!
The picture quality of this monster is crystal clear, as you would hope for the rather large price. With a GeForce4 under the bonnet, you will be able to see this monitor at its best, but if you have a much less powerful video card, you should really look at a 19" model. Sony makes excellent quality 19" monitors as well, and they are far cheaper.
If you're not going to use your PC for gaming, you may want to buy an LCD monitor. They are reasonably expensive but have excellent picture quality and are small compared to a similar sized CRT monitor. The model to get is up to you, but go for a quality brand such as Sony, and the one that most suites your eyes. If you're after something that looks a little different, try the Hercules Prophetview 720.
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- LG Flatron 795FT+
Most people cant afford to spend AUD$2000 on a monitor like the Sony 21" and are stuck looking for a monitor for a quarter of the price. This LG CRT monitor is just that, a quarter of the price, and gives excellent picture quality for a much more affordable price.
The monitor has a 16" viewable Flat CRT screen, has a max resolution of 1600*1200, an aperture grille pitch of 0.24mm, a horizontal frequency of 30-96kHz, vertical frequency of 50-160Hz, weighs 22.7kg and has a three year warranty.
You will be doing very well to find a better monitor than this one for the same price.
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