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Creative Prodikeys PC-MIDI review: Creative Prodikeys PC-MIDI

For the music dabbler who likes to take the occasional tuneful time-out from typing, Creative's Prodikeys could be just the thing.

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Brian Haverty
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Brian Haverty

Brian Haverty is Editorial Director for CNET Networks Australia and is responsible for the company's CNET.com.au, ZDNet Australia, GameSpot AU and Builder AU online titles. Brian has been editing and writing on an extensive range of technology subjects for 10 years in Australia but the areas he specialises in are digital publishing and production systems.

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2 min read
piano

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7.5

Creative Prodikeys PC-MIDI

The Good

Clever idea. Nice data keyboard construction. Entertaining software included.

The Bad

Poor music keyboard touch. Annoying delay.

The Bottom Line

The PC/piano keyboard combination is a clever one, and (as long as one is not too serious about his or her music) there is plenty of fun that can be had with this device. On the downside, the sound is MIDI, which can get very monotonous, and the slight sound delay can be annoying.
Just imagine: you call your work colleagues over to show them your new computer "keyboard", and there you are playing "Heart and Soul" on the 37-key attached keyboard when they arrive! The hilarity will last minutes!. Seriously, though, the Prodikeys is a clever idea from Creative that is hampered only by a few problems in execution.

Performance
First of all, the best thing about this device is the PC keyboard portion. The key touch and return are extremely comfortable, and the cover over the piano keys makes a great wrist rest. There are 10 customisable hot keys as well as log off and Sleep buttons, and media playback buttons.

Before you get to tickling the piano keys, however, you've got to install Creative's Prodikeys software. This gives you access to four main programs: Mini Keyboard, FunMix, EasyNotes and HotKeys Manager.

Mini Keyboard is the basic piece of software that lets you change keyboard voices from Acoustic Grand, to guitar, ensemble, voice, or even drums (there are 128 different voices in all). You can also turn sustain on and off for some voices and change octaves for all of them. Changing octaves can be useful when trying to play along with someone, but with the Prodikeys, we found that trick to be nearly impossible. When playing on one's own, the effect is not as noticeable, but when we tried to play along with someone else, we noticed an extremely annoying delay (between the pressing of the key and the sound) that kept us from being able to keep up.

The FunMix program gives you 27 different sets of rhythms and "samples" that you can mix and match to create interesting DJ-type "remixes". In both the Mini Keyboard and FunMix applications, it is also possible to record separate tracks to play along with, for a fuller sound.

The EasyNotes software is a music tutor that not only shows you songs in music notation, but also provides a step-by-step guide to help the user familiarise themselves with the songs, the notes and how they are played.

Other features
The HotKeys Manager software, of course, lets you assign specific functions to the hot keys, so you can use one to go directly to your e-mail reader, for example. There is also an interactive tutor program that takes you through the basics of using the Prodikeys.

The keyboard connects to your PC via the USB port, and setup is quick and easy. Recommended requirement include Pentium III or AMD Athlon processor, Windows XP or Windows 2000, 256MB RAM and 360MB of free hard disk space.

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