Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solution looking for a problem, 1 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Creative Sound Blaster Axx 20 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone for iPad, iPhone, Android, PC or Mac Devices (Electronics)
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This device brings together Creative's background in sound cards with its expertise in wireless speakers. It allows you to stream audio to it from a mobile device over Bluetooth, or from a PC over USB. It also contains a pair of microphones which can be used for handsfree calls via a paired mobile device or a PC running Skype or similar.

It looks quite elegant and is very stable with the circular base attached. Acoustically it is so-so. It doesn't sound as good as my thirty-quid 2.1 Philips PC speakers. Bass frequencies are particularly lacking and the stereo sound stage is very minimal, despite all the pseudo-surround-sound configuration tweaks that are available over the software interface. However, for a small footprint device, it makes a passable effort at stereo, and avoid the cable clutter of a satellite speaker.

The most impressive feature of this device is the fact that it is powered from a standard USB socket, and can kick out a reasonable volume. This must have taken quite some engineering.

My real problem with the Axx is that its raison d'etre is somewhat elusive. It appears to be a case of a "technology push" rather than a "market pull". If you want Bluetooth speakers, you can get them already, and they'll plug straight into the mains, rather than needing an adapter like the Axx does. Similarly, if you want PC speakers or microphone, you've probably already got them. I can't really see what fusing these features into one device adds to the mix. And why have Creative gone to the trouble of powering the Axx from a USB connection? By the time you've plugged the Axx into a USB socket, you might as well play the audio from that device, rather than streaming over Bluetooth from some other device. Perhaps I'm just too old to get it, but I'm left scratching my head a little over this one.

Usability is also fairly far down Creative's list of priorities. The PC or mobile device interface for tweaking the Axx's audio settings will delight geeky teenage boys, but will, I imagine, leave most other people fairly cold. Personally I can't get too excited about what frequency my bass cross-over operates at. Buttons on the device itself with such helpful titles as "SBX" appear designed to befuddle as much as to elucidate (it toggles the equaliser settings on and off).

The Axx can apparently use array beam-forming techniques to focus on you when you are in front of it. It also has noise cancelling. These appear to work fairly well, although I got howling feedback when I tried out the voiceFX demo mode. Never mind, I think I can live without sounding like a robot or an elf. Again, one for the kids, perhaps.

This product concept is certainly novel, and will surely appeal to gadget fans. To what extent it will enhance the lives of those of us who rate functionality, usability and value above the "cool" factor, I'm not so sure.
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Review Details

Item

Reviewer

Tim
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 901