Creative Lab’s Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 is a very intriguing device. Part karaoke machine, part Sound Blaster, part NFC speaker, part battery bank, part mobile conferencing speaker, part voice recorder, part megaphone, and part MP3 player. When pieced out, this should add up to about a $1000 dollars. Creative Labs has managed to squeeze all of these features into a white monolith about the size of a large diameter candle that will retail for about $300 dollars (less with the current holiday promotion).
One must first ask why would they need a device like this. The nice thing about the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 being as capable as it is becomes clear when looking at those features – there is at least one thing that it can do that a person might be interested in. For many people, multiple features will be appealing. In my case, I am a hardcore PC gamer that does not need to use it as a Sound Blaster, but the Bluetooth speaker and conferencing options really appeal to me. Everyone is different.
In terms of design, the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 follows the same basic shape as its sister products in the Axx line – the biggest difference being its smaller size and white coloring. It has the attractive touch-based control pad on the top of the device as well as some switches and buttons on the back of the unit to control power, recording, and megaphone features. Functionally, the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 is simple and straightforward to use and displays high quality in every respect. The megaphone option is overwhelmingly loud when turned all the way up and the AXX 200 allows users to insert a blank MicroSD memory card into it in order to play music or record voice notes.
You can even plug your computer into the AXX 200 via USB cable and your PC will use it as a full-fledged sound card. The AXX 200 features Creative Labs SB-Axx1 multi-core audio processor and puts out some very good quality audio. This would make a great speaker system/sound card for your gaming laptop or even to plug the audio output of your backyard projector into for family movie nights.
Cooler still is that the AXX 200 is a Near Field Communication speaker system – so, if your mobile device supports that, you will have no problem pairing them up. If you are like me and only have Apple mobile devices, then you can still interface with the speaker system via Bluetooth. In fact, the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 has two Bluetooth channels so that you can connect two devices to it at the same time. The idea behind this is that you can be gaming on your tablet with its audio piping through the AXX 200, then seamlessly switch over to a conference call as the AXX 200 is also connected to your phone. Why wouldn’t you just use your phone for the conference call? The AXX 200 features four microphones to pickup voices from all around the conference table. It also utilizes Creative Labs Crystal Voice technology to eliminate background noise and provide more clear voice traffic. In my testing the device, I was blown away by how nice the quality is – it was actually distractingly-good in comparison to dedicated teleconferencing units I have used.
While the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 has a lengthy battery life of up to 15 hours, you can also use its stored energy to charge your mobile device. Just plug it into the USB port and it will start the electrons flowing. This makes the AXX 200 a great backup battery if you are every stranded without access to a wall or car outlet. Personally, I am going to pack this in my CES bag for when I need to recharge my phone on the fly.
We were also able to check out the charging dock, which is sold separately. I highly recommend picking this up as it provides a nice base station to set your AXX 200 on when not in use that charges it up as well. The only thing that would have made the charging dock better was if it used a smooth charging pad a la the late and underrated Palm Pre. The current charging solution had two little pins that stick up from the charging dock that touch two little points on the AXX 200 which are revealed when the bottom of the device is opened up via small plate.
I can see myself taking the AXX 200 with me if I ever get to go hiking again. You could easily signal for help using the megaphone option, keep your phone charged with it for when you get in range of a cellular tower, or just play some tunes on it if you are camping. Overall, the Sound BlasterAxx Axx 200 portable sound system is a very cool sound solution that will replace a great many device types. It is available now for about $149, while is a special and limited time holiday price point. Once the special over, the price will be back at its MSRP of $299. You can find out more about the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 over at its official product page.