Once famed for its Sound Blaster audio computer cards, Creative Technology has not managed to replicate that success with music players. In recent years though, it has returned to its audio roots and produced portable speakers using the Sound Blaster technology.
Each of them has gone above and beyond what buyers have come to expect from a simple speaker.
With brands such as UE, Sony and Jabra crowding the market with their own portables, Creative had to differentiate itself beyond audio superiority, and its latest AXX 200 packs in quite a bit of extras.
Among Bluetooth speakers, its performance is comparable to those that are of a similar size in the market.
Users who prefer a separate speaker to listen to while viewing videos on a tablet or laptop will find that its vocal clarity makes dialogue in TV shows and singers stand out.
In music playback, the bass gives a decent kick but gets messy when the volume is pumped up. But that is to be expected of a speaker no bigger than a soft drink bottle.
The speaker's hexagonal design offers a good grip and every physical control is on a single panel, from power and music controls to record and loud speaker buttons.
Yes, you can record your voice using the speaker and store it on a microSD card inserted into the speaker. The device will also play all music tracks stored on the card via the built-in controls.
Switch on the loudspeaker button and the AXX 200 becomes a handy microphone that amplifies your voice. While it will not project your voice as well as a stand-alone loudspeaker, it comes in handy, say, for a beach gathering with friends.
A USB port at the back lets you connect it to your smartphone if you need to use the speaker's 5,200mAh battery to charge your phone.
At the top of the speaker sits a capacitive touchscreen for volume control, a mute switch for the speaker and microphone, noise cancellation and for answering calls.
If yours is an NFC smartphone, the AXX 200 has built-in NFC for quick pairing, and separate apps for Android and iOS devices.
An SB Remote app replicates the touch panel controls of the speaker; an SB VoiceFX app offers you a choice of 17 different voices, including male/female, dwarf, elf, alien and robot.
It is a nifty gimmick to use for reading bedtime stories to a child. You will need to connect a microphone to the speaker. If not, there will be two distinct voices coming from the speaker - your own and the digitally transformed one.
With audio quality that matches the competition, the unexpected extras of the AXX 200 put it ahead of the competition.