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Diamond 12X Multimedia Kit
A Multimedia Dream Come True
-- by Jim Forbes
Installing multimedia upgrade kits can be a nightmare, but Diamond's 12X Multimedia Kit installs like a dream. Its $349 price tag buys a Mitsumi 12X CD-ROM drive, a Diamond 16-bit wavetable sound card, two Labtec LCS10122 stereo speakers, a modest software bundle-and a carefully built package of documentation and instructions that make setup impressively effortless.
A well-made instructional video gets you started. I strongly recommend setting an hour aside to watch the video before you crack your computer case open; you'll find it's time well spent. I upgraded an aging Windows 95-based 90MHz Pentium system with a 2X CD-ROM drive, poor-quality speakers, and a decrepit sound card that's been out of production for more than three years. In the past, I've spent as much as four hours adding those components to a computer. The Diamond kit took about 80 minutes.
The kit can also upgrade computers running Windows 3.x. Its minimum hardware requirements are a 486 processor, 4MB of system memory and 2MB of free hard disk space.
The 16-bit half-length wavetable ISA card offers 32 voices and produces a more-than-adequate audio signal to the speakers. The sound from this Plug-and-Play model will satisfy most home or small-business users. The Mitsumi 12X IDE CD-ROM drive delivered throughput of 1.8MB per second in my tests, fast enough to run most multimedia titles directly from the CD-ROM drive. This should appeal to users of older machines, especially those with small hard drives.
Once the sound card and CD-ROM are installed, you have to connect ribbon cables, power cables and the audio feature cable that runs between the CD-ROM drive and sound card. After powering up your computer, run the installation programs for the audio utilities.
My only complaint with this upgrade is the speaker pair. While good enough for small settings, they tend to distort bass sounds at higher volumes. If great sound is your primary aim, you may want to add better speakers.
The kit has a clear entertainment orientation, with bundled games such as Myst, Virtual Fighter PC, Tomcat Alley and others. But Diamond caters to the business user as well, bundling audio utilities and CorelDRAW 4.0.
The heart-and-soul of this upgrade kit is its 12X CD-ROM drive, which makes loading even the largest CD-ROM-based applications-Office 97, for example-a very brief task. That drive is enough to make the Diamond our top choice for a multimedia upgrade, replacing the Creative Labs Performance 8X unit on our Recommended List.
Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.