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Words 'n' music

"Hybrid". The word could have been invented for Creative's Prodikeys DM. It's, well, a dual-function gadget that can be used as a QWERTY keyboard for entering text or, when the plastic cover is removed, as a 37-note "touch-sensitive" (actually, three levels of tactile responsiveness) music keyboard complete with sustain and pitch-bend and volume-control wheels and Midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) features that are compatible with popular software sequencers such as Cubase and Cakewalk.

Prodikeys DM is virtually indistinguishable from a regular QWERTY model, so much so that on taking it out of the box you may think Creative has sent you the wrong unit. Unclip the plastic wrist rest, however, and you'll find the music keyboard. It may not be the most elegant - and it's certainly not the largest - keyboard you're likely to have seen but it's perfectly adequate for entering notes in either step or real time.

There's more. Pressing the music icon-button activates the Prodikeys music software, six modes of music activities that include accompanied and solo performance, rhythm effects and fills in a variety of genres including pop, dance, jazz, rock and shuffle.

The software will appeal to a range of users, from aspiring DJs who can trigger a range of well-recorded samples in the FunTunes section, to students who want to accompany themselves on familiar tunes such as When the Saints, Clementine and Jingle Bells. Or less well-known themes - Sheep Fleecing anyone? Performances can be saved and exported in various sound file formats and if you get bored with the tunes on the accompanying CD you can visit the Prodikeys site and download a huge variety of styles including Gamelan, hip-hop, reggae, new age, techno and orchestral from the online library. And they are free.

Prodikeys is fun, well designed and it's certainly innovative - when did you last see a device incorporating a typing and music keyboard? At less than pound;70 it's the sort of robust, stimulating toolinstrument that would be a welcome addition to the music department.

We have five Prodikeys DM keyboards to give away to schools. See page 5 for more details.

DigiRostrum Pro

Price: DigiRostrum Pro pound;450; DigiRostrum DV pound;50

Time-limited demos can be downloaded from These can be

converted to the full working version.

Canon i990

Price: pound;240

Canon Printers Bubble_Jeti990


Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use ****

Features ****

Quality *****

Value for money ****

CreativeProdikeys DM

Price: pound;65

Fitness for purpose *****

Ease of use ****

Features *****

Quality ****

Value for money *****

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