Creative Encore 6X PC-DVD
Introduction
Securely the leader in PC-DVD for the upgrade market, Creative has taken their proven track record and moved a step ahead with the latest edition to the Creative PC-DVD family, the Encore 6X. The Encore 6X PC-DVD kit takes advantage of the new Dxr3 decoder board, one of the easiest to use and best available. 

Packaging
Easy to set up, everything you need comes in the box. You get the 6X DVD drive, the Dxr3 Decoder card, all the necessary cables you need to get it running, an easy to follow and informative manual, the software drivers, and a pretty deep software bundle. Riven - The Sequel to Myst, National Geographic's "The 90's on DVD", and Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia 1998 Deluxe Edition make up a pretty well rounded bundle, alas since most of us purchase DVD drives to watch movies, I was a bit disappointed that the bundle didn't include even a trailer disk. 

Installation
The included manual makes set up a breeze although I did find that if you're using a Soundblaster Live Value card, as I was, audio cabling was a bit confusing. The DVD drive itself slipped into an open bay without any difficulty and you'll need to make sure that you don't use the first PCI slot if you cannot configure the IRQs individually for each slot. Very often on super7 mainboards, the first PCI slot will share an IRQ with the AGP card and this will cause you no end of headaches. This was not covered in the manual and should have been for I spent a good hour trying to figure out why my movies kept going blue screen on me. Unlike the PD-DVD Inlay System we covered last year, the Encore 6X uses a pass-through cable which means that you can use it with any graphics card because it doesn't require special video porting.


Features


Creative Dxr3 Decoder Board

Creative PC-DVD 6X drive

Performance
CD-ROM performance is a little on the slow side when compared with many of today's higher speed CD-ROM drives but not so slow thast game play or program installation suffers. On the other hand DVD transfer rates were amazingly quick as you can observe in the results obtained with SiSoft's Sandra Drive Benchmark below.

Creative's PC-DVD Player Application is actually quite good. The PC-DVD Player interface is a clever rendition of a virtual remote control and offers the ability to adjust just about every feature of the movie from the player, as well as from your keyboard. The picture on my monitor in 1024x768 32-bit color was crisp and sharp with astounding color as was the signal sent to my 36in TV even across 35 feet of cable. No dropped frames, no artifacts, just clean colorful video. 

The Encore 6X PC-DVD kit takes full advantage of Creative's years of experience in the sound industry. It outputs DVD audio in Dolby Digital 5.1(AC-3), Dolby Surround, and stereo. The sound generated using the SPDIF output to the Creative Live Value was astounding even on my little Altec-Lansing cubes. And the output to our Technics home theatre system could shake the walls down. 
Conclusion
So what's not to like? Other than the fact that the Encore 6X won't let you watch simultaneously on monitor and TV the way the Inlat kit did, everything about the Encore 6X Kit is better than the earlier model. Once you're up an running the experience as opposed to videotape will surely wow you and the Encore 6X seems to perform seamlessly on super7 systems. With prices rapidly dropping now is a great time to buy the kit.

To find out more about this and other components from Creative Labs, check out their web site at http://www.soundblaster.com  

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