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Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Elite Pro - Entertainment Center

In the chapter about the remote we told that it could control the Creative Entertainment Center. Entertainment Center is Creative's attempt to make something like a HTPC-frontend and let me say right away that Creative have far from succeed in this one.

We got to know this function as early as in Audigy 4 Pro and we were skeptical like now. Entertainment Center has replaced the discreet OSD like media player that were on earlier cards and that we really liked.

E. Center

After a relatively long loading time and a screen resolution change we start the latest incarnation of Creative Entertainment Center. The interface is relatively sparse but tasteful, although a little blurry. The response on the different functions are fast and it's a breeze navigating with the remote. However the program doesn't recognize to many extentions that you'd hoped for and there's no option to try and play a file regardless of what extension it has. The biggest problem however is about it's video functions. Apart from the fact that the program don't have any own DVD-Decoder, the technical quality of the video playback a few steps back in time. For an example all the movies are shown in Overlay mode instead of VMR9 like most other modern solutions.

However what bothered me the most was the fact that the interface is limited to 800x600 in full screen mode. Apart from being relatively stupid to constrain you to run a HTCP-like front end in 4.3 instead of Widescreen is that it's very limiting for plasma, LCD and DLP and so on to be running with fixed resolution. And the fact that they've decided to use something so low-res like 800x600 makes me even more confused.

However the main interface has no affect on your playback. As soon as the video starts the program goes back to the full screen resolution you've chosen in Windows. There's also a function that makes it possible to close the interface completely while listening to music. This feature however is actually kind of useless since the remote control won't function if the interface is closed.

It's also worth mentioning that the Entertainment Center isn't anything that have to be used or even installed. Personally I've would have preferred to see them spending their time and resources on something else.

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