A drive to create music compact discs
The CD-Writer Music from Hewlett-Packard is the first computer CD-recordable (CD-R), CD-rewritable (CD-RW) drive designed specifically for creating music discs. It's also one of the first to utilize the Universal Serial Bus, or USB, port for hassle-free hookup.
This Windows 98-compatible external device doesn't require cracking open your PC's case to install it, although it needs a software setup. Music Jukebox is the robust software provided for managing music tracks, creating play lists and making personalized CDs. Also included is the NEATO CD labeler kit for designing disc labels and jewel case liners.
To record music, the CD-Writer Music only uses blank discs labeled "Music Digital Audio CD-R." Such a requirement restricts your choice of media, but it is a way to duplicate songs while protecting the copyrights of artists and labels. You can legally create CDs with up to 74 minutes of music downloaded from the Internet or copied from CDs you own.
With software purchased separately, such as Adaptec's CD Creator, the CD-Writer can double as a data recorder using regular, less expensive blank discs. The drive can permanently save 650 megabytes of files such as documents, photos and video to a regular CD-R disc or can use a CD-RW disc to erase, update or rewrite data.
Software gives this drive more flexibility in recording and organizing than many home entertainment CD recording decks. The price for that convenience and for going legit: about $299.
Information: www.hpcdmusic. com or www.hpcdwriter.com or call 800-826-4111.
-- Jim Buu
Suzuki digital guitar
"Zero to musician in 9 seconds flat!" trumpets the box containing Suzuki's QChord digital guitar. It's true that in almost no time, using optional prerecorded plug-in cartridges, anyone can produce full-blown songs.
Creating them on your own might take a little longer with the QChord.
Its most novel feature is its "strumplate," a fretted pad you can strum or press with one or several fingers while the QChord rests on a flat surface. The strumplate lets you play the notes of a selected chord over a four-octave range. Strum along with a song cartridge or select your own chords and rhythms.
The strumplate also has 100 instrumental voices. Other features include reverb, sustain and vibrato, 10 built-in rhythms, a pitch-bending wheel, MIDI ports for linking to other electronic instruments or a computer, plus stereo and headphone connections. Power comes from a wall outlet or eight C cells.
Three tiers of chord buttons produce major, minor, seventh, diminished and augmented chords. Complex chord changes won't come easily without practice, however. And while the chord keys can be used as a chromatic keyboard, it's a clunky process.
Most of these sounds can be had more easily on small, competitively priced electronic keyboards. But if you want strum-thing different, check it out. Suggested retail for the QChord is $199; song cartridges are $19.95.
Information: www.qchord.com or 800-854-1594.
-- Steve Steinberg