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Creative is a company with pedigree. Its range of Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcards continue to set the standard for other consumer targeted soundcards and just to underline its importance, the company recently announced it had passed the 25 million mark of MP3 players sold. Looking at recent efforts such as the Zen, it's clear the company isn't short of ideas either. However, more recently when I think of Creative I am reminded of the superb Gigaworks T20 speakers, which received a well deserved Editor's Choice award thanks to their outstanding sound quality at an astounding price. It's clear many of you agreed too, with glowing reports from all over echoing the belief that they are a truly excellent set of desktop speakers.
Encouraged by these glowing reactions, Creative has gone away to try and improve on the T20s and the result is the Gigaworks T40s. Retailing for around £75, visually the similarities are fairly obvious. Both have the same sleek graphite grey exterior, with thick black plastic casing and removable protective grilles. On top there's still the BasXPort to help boost the lower mid-range, while the mid-range drivers are still made out of the yellow woven material that's so striking to the eye.
However, there are plenty of differences as well. Thanks to an extra mid-range driver on each speaker they're far taller and to offset this extra height each speaker now has a stand, a useful addition considering the T20s were slightly unstable. There are also some small but quite significant changes in connectivity, with the front mounted 3.5mm auxiliary jack replaced by a docking port on the back that's compatible with Creative's X-30 Docking Station for iPods. This isn't a change one can approve of either, it may help Creative sell more docks and iPod users won't be as inconvenienced, but the lack of a convenient front facing connector is a significant backward step. Ideally one wants both the dock connector and a auxiliary input, though presumably there's a reason why this isn't possible.
In addition, unlike the T20s you no longer turn the speakers on and off using the volume dial, instead there's a switch on the back. This is a good thing in one respect, allowing you keep preferred volume settings instead of having to reset them every time you use the speakers, though reaching behind to switch the speakers on isn't ideal either and it would have been good if Creative could have found some space on the front for an independent switch.
Despite these small reservations, the T40s maintain the same visual appeal as the T20s did - only in a larger and slightly more imposing frame. In the box you get the same things you did before, with an audio lead to connect the speakers to your preferred source and adapter for use with dual RCA connections. One other minor change comes with the power adapter, which is no longer self contained within the plug but is a separate in-line unit. This is definitely an improvement, especially if you're plugging the speakers directly into a wall socket.