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Review:    Prodikeys by Creative Labs

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Top Pick. This exciting product, called Prodikeys, features two keyboards in one--a computer keyboard and piano keyboard--along with software that allows users to create, learn, and play music quickly and easily. 

When the MIDI keyboard is not in use, users can place the keyboard cover, which turns into a palm rest, over the piano keys. The computer keyboard is a full 104-key standard IBM compatible keyboard. On the top left corner, a FUN button quickly and easily launches the music software program, and users can adjust the volume and pitch bend with dials found here as well. 

Once the Prodikeys software is launched, keys on the computer keyboard turn into quick access keys for music settings and selections.

A fantastic bonus that comes in the Prodikeys box is a SoundBlaster audio card. If needed, users can install the sound card as part of the hardware/software installation process. 

The program is easy to set up and the software is easy to use. There are four modes featured: Impress, Easy Play, Learn, and Perform. Impress mode (pictured at right) is fantastic for quickly producing great-sounding songs. Kids are likely to spend the most time in this mode, where they can create mixes that sound fantastic! In Impress Mode's "Fun Tunes", for example, the music keys are pre-programmed with music loops. 

Learn mode features five steps to learning a selection of songs: Listen to the tune, learn and practice the notes, learn the notes with rhythm, learn the chords, and play the tune. Users can choose a comfortable tempo at which to learn and select EAX effects, such as "concert hall" which sounds as if they are playing in a concert hall. They have a choice of stave or numeric display, and can record, play back, and save their tunes in wave, MIDI, or MP3 format. The program even scores users' performances in percentages. 

Easy Play allows users to play with one hand as the software backs them up with rhythm accompaniment. More advanced options are found in Perform Mode that allow users to customize music settings. Plenty of musical instruments and rhythms are available to choose from (over 100 each).

Setting up the program is straightforward enough. If you need to install the sound card, then it will take a little longer. The software installs from a CD, but you won't need to put the disk in the drive to use the software after installation. The keyboard is larger than most, so it takes up extra space on your desk, but if you enjoy creating music, this all-in-one is really quite functional. In fact, because launching the program is hassle-free and the MIDI keyboard is right there in front of you, you'll likely want to play and learn music more often.  

One of the most pleasing features of this product is that there is a lot to do with the software at all levels of challenge and interest. In other words, children who are content experimenting with simple music mixes and learning to play basic songs will get a lot out of the Prodikeys, and those who want to take it further will find plenty of options and opportunities to do so. In other words, it would be difficult to be disappointed with the product.

This is a fantastic buy: you get a computer keyboard, 37-key integrated MIDI keyboard, SoundBlaster audio card, and easy-to-use music software for a low suggested retail price of $99 US. 

Minimum System Requirements: Win 98 SE/2000/Me/XP, Pentium 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended), 325 MB hard drive space, CD-ROM drive.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Creative Labs Prodikeys Keyboard





For Win 98SE/2000/Me/XP By: Creative Labs  Ages 8-up Released: 2002


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Reviewed February 2003                                                                                            Comments? Email us.

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