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PC World

PC card offers cinema-like 3D sound

November 17, 1999
Web posted at: 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT)

by David Essex

LAS VEGAS (IDG) -- Gamers and DVD movie fans can get affordable cinema surround-sound on their desktops, thanks to Pine Technology USA's new PT-2629 sound card, which decodes Dolby 3D sound for output on up to four speakers. The $39.95 unit is being unveiled during this week's Comdex show here.

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Budget-conscious users who can't afford more than one DVD player will often use their DVD-equipped PCs to display movie DVDs on large-screen monitors or computer-compatible televisions, says Brian Hamilton, Pine Technology's vice president of sales and marketing. But the movies' sound is often inferior to the picture, especially when emanating from a PC's internal speaker. To improve the quality, some users connect their computer system's sound card to an external amplifier or receiver wired to stereo speakers.

The PT-2629 eliminates these extra steps by providing the necessary audio technology, including Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro-Logic, Expressive 64 Voices wavetable, and Sensaura's 3D positioning software, on a Yamaha YMF744 chip set, according to Pine Technology representatives.

Dolby Digital is a form of audio encoding favored by most movie producers. Consumer DVD-video players support it, but not all PC sound cards do, according to the Dolby Laboratories Web site.

The PT-2629, which fits in a PCI slot, has output jacks for two front and two back speakers, and MIDI/gameport, line-in, and microphone-in ports. It supports Microsoft DirectSound, DirectSound 3D, and DirectMusic for hardware audio acceleration. When fitted with an optional daughtercard, the PT-2629 also provides direct digital output to a Dolby Digital receiver.

"It'll allow you to keep DVDs on your computer and output the audio directly, without going to analog," Hamilton says.

The PT-2929 competes against Aureal's Vortex2 and Diamond Multimedia's MX-400 but is much less expensive than either card, which each cost around $99. It will first be available online at Outpost.Com and TigerDirect, and later at some retail outlets.

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Continuous Comdex coverage at
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Pine Technology USA
Dolby Laboratories Inc.
Comdex 99
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