Friday, May 4, 2007

Creative Soundcards - rant

Creative may never see another dollar from me again. I own(ed) an Audigy Sound card.

From the beginning my experience with that card was mixed. Hardware acceleration was awesome, when the card didn't crash. And it wasn't only me . . . but it took more than a year after I bought the card before Creative finally released a driver update that fixed the random crash. X-Fi owners faced similar, if not worse, problems.

Now comes Vista. Which was released in usable (from a Developers point of view at least) Beta form darn near a year before it's release to all major hardware venders/manufacturers. Creative totally dropped the ball, they did not have Vista drivers available at release. Today they still don't - unless you have one of their X-Fi cards.

To be sure, it's not all Creative's fault. Microsoft pulled the rug out from under them with a totally new way to address sound card DSP chips. But Creative had a year to get ready.

So now the final nail in the coffin: Creative just announced that they have begun working on a Audigy series Vista driver. And hidden in the announcement is this key phase: " . . . hope to offer this product as a low-cost upgrade." So - is that a typo? An accident from someone that failed to get the right proof-reading from marketing?

Here is the complete announcement as it appeared originally:

"When we released the first beta of ALchemy for X-Fi, we hoped customers would appreciate our efforts. Within only a few months, the response from users and the press has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of our customers have asked if we could adapt ALchemy to Audigy series sound cards. The X-Fi and Audigy series sound cards are built on different hardware architectures, and therefore require separate development efforts. However, based on the requests to date, we are pleased to announce that we have begun development of an implementation of ALchemy for Audigy series sound cards, and hope to offer this product as a low-cost upgrade to interested Audigy owners later this year."