Joined: 14 September 2004
The DM in Prodikeys DM stands for Desktop Music, but it could also stand for Desktop Magic. This keyboard allows you to have music on your desktop without having to add a dedicated music keyboard. It is a full-functioning computer keyboard and a musical keyboard at the same time.
When you first glance at the keyboard it looks like a regular computer keyboard with a large black palm rest. The keyboard has all the normal computer keys plus enhanced multimedia keys. It has Internet hot keys, programmable keys, and multi-media playback buttons (play, pause, volume, etc.) The keyboard works just as you would expect when working on the computer. As a computer keyboard, Prodikeys is comfortable and has a good tactile feel. My only complaint (if you can call it that) is because of the large palm rest, I found my normal keyboard shelf a bit too high for the Prodikeys. I wound up typing with it on my lap, which actually turned out to be quite comfortable. If I were to use the Prodikeys on a permanent basis I would lower my keyboard shelf to accommodate it and that would probably be a worthwhile project.
The keyboard is easy to set up. It plugs directly into the PS2 keyboard connector on your computer. Turn computer off, plug keyboard in, install the software, and you're ready to go.
The surprise comes when you slide the cover off the palm rest. This exposes a 37 key midi keyboard. This keyboard comes with dedicated sustain, octave shift, and pitch buttons and a volume control wheel. It is easy to switch between the computer keyboard and the music keyboard. Just press the music key and the Prodikeys software appears on the screen and the keyboard goes into music mode. Press the music key again to close the music software and return to the computer keyboard mode. The software is smart. When working on dual monitors it allowed me to play the musical keyboard when working on one screen and use the keyboard for computer input when working on the other screen.
In the music mode you can play the keyboard, create music, or practice your musical skills. The keyboard recreates 128 different instrumental sounds like piano, organ, drums, and violin. Even among the major instruments there are choices. For instance, choose "organ" and you get selections like Reed, Hammond, Percussive, Rock, and Church organ. Of course, the better the sound card and speakers on your computer, the better the Prodikeys music will sound. Yet, the instruments sounded quite good using my average sound card and ordinary computer speakers.
The Prodikeys software is wonderful. It has several different modes, each representing a unique way to interface with the keyboard:
Each of these modes has a variety of different selections. With all of these modes you can play on the keyboard itself or use your mouse to play on the keyboard on the screen. You can choose the touch of the keyboard from soft, normal, and hard. You can also choose the octave you are playing in and the pitch. You can download additional lessons and sounds from the Prodikeys Web site. You can also record your creations as a WAV, Mp3, or MIDI files to play back any time.
The Prodikeys DM offers much to experiment with. Just investigating the various modes plunged me into a music episode that took hours. I'm not complaining, however. The experience was just plain fun. Expect to spend some time learning how the software works and investigating its many complexities. For anyone musically inclined, this learning exercise will be a joy.
You don't really have to know anything about music to enjoy playing with the Prodikeys keyboard. A professional musician would probably find it boring, but children and adults who are interested in music will find it fascinating.
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