Welcome to Reviews OnLine: Multimedia Project: Hardware Part I
Multimedia Project
Hardware Part I
by Rick Smith (April 1994)

There are two major pieces of computer hardware you need in order to have a true multimedia system. One is a sound board and the other is a CD ROM drive. Since these items have been on the market for quite awhile, there are many new, refurbished and even close-out products available.

Installing a sound card and a CD ROM drive into most systems generally requires two 16-bit ISA slots on your motherboard and one 5 1/4" half-height drive bay. You can save these slots and a drive bay by using hardware products which only need a parallel port or PCMCIA slot.

Some sound boards have a built-in CD ROM drive connector and these boards can help save the slot needed for the CD ROM interface card. Be very sure that this connector is compatible with your CD ROM drive and interface software.

Besides choosing a sound board with the best configuration for your system with the appropriate input and output connectors, there are several other important features that your sound card must have. These are high quality stereo wave file record and playback, a built-in MIDI synthesizer and sound board compatibility. If you have access to a MIDI keyboard or other MIDI musical instrument, you might want a board with a MIDI In/Out port.

High quality record and playback depends on your needs and how much you want to spend. While most all sound boards can play and record sound samples at 10K samples per second, a few boards can play and record at CD quality (16 bit samples, 44.1K times per second). Most cards playback and record somewhere in between these two extremes and most playback at a better fidelity than they can record.

A built-in MIDI synthesizer allows you to play MIDI music files through your speakers. Many commercial games and educational programs use MIDI playback for music.

You need to have Sound Blaster or possibly AdLib compatibility as most commercial programs which use sound support this standard. Although you can use non-standard boards, be sure that the applications you want to use support your sound card.

With a sound card you can playback music and voices with excellent quality and in an upcoming issue, I will discuss the important features of CD ROM drives.

Copyright 1994 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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Desktop PCs & Servers
  Ergo Thunder Brick 2
Eizo FlexScan Displays
Future Power epower
HP NetServer LXr 8500
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Digital Cameras
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Novatel Merlin Modem
Xircom Ethernet CompactCard
Mobile Software
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DataViz Documents To Go
Softbook E-book System
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Visioneer Strobe Pro
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Xerox 480cx
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Caere PageKeeper Pro
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Docent Outliner
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Paragon FoneSync
Symantec pcAnywhere 9.0
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V-Communications AutoSave
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Mitsubishi S120
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Intelliquis Traffic Builder
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Castlewood 2.2Gb ORB
Iomega Clik!
Teac CD-W 54E
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Electrofuel PowerPad
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  Belkin USB Video Bus
Daeyang VR Headset
Kodak/Intel Picture CD
Nogatech USB TV
Number Nine SR9
  Logitech Cordless mouse
Raritan Switchman
Targus USB MiniMouse
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