Stereo-Link offers easy way to play PC music

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February 14, 2002

Stereo-Link offers easy way to play PC music on stereo

For most of us, playing MP3 music files means listening to the cheap 10-watt speakers attached to our PCs - or spending $800 to buy a hard-drive MP3 gadget for the stereo.

But Stereo-Link has come up with a simple and affordable way to make your computer play music on the quality speakers in your living room, where they belong.

The $139 Model 1200 is an intermediary between your stereo amplifier and your computer. The stereo plugs into the Model 1200 with standard RCA cables, and the computer hooks in with a USB cable. Before you know it, you're playing your tunes on the stereo instead of tiny computer speakers.

If your computer is within cabling distance of your stereo, this is a great alternative to so-called "MP3 jukeboxes" that sell for as much as $1,000 but aren't much more than stereo devices with a hard drive. Why spend that much when you already have a computer that can do everything that a digital jukebox can?

A plus: In graphite and dark blue, the Stereo-Link looks cool on your stereo shelf.

Information: 617-995-3500 or www.stereo-link.com.- Michael James

SpeedPad works great, Game-Mouse has limits

Belkin Components' Nostromo n50 SpeedPad and n30 Game- Mouse are two tools intended for hard-core computer gamers, but while the n50 is undeniably excellent, the n30 may not be for everyone.

The SpeedPad ($36) is a cluster of 10 keyboard keys, a directional pad and a throttle wheel grouped together on a comfortable handgrip that you use instead of a keyboard for controlling your game character.

You use the keypad with your left hand while you manipulate your mouse with your right. It sounds awkward, but it works perfectly. Backward, forward, left and right keys are right where you need them, and the directional pad sits conveniently under your thumb and doubles as a jump key.

Fans of Quake III, Half-Life and Unreal Tournament will flock to this device.

The n30 GameMouse ($46) is a mixed bag. The mouse uses TouchSense technology, meaning it vibrates when your character fires a weapon or drops to the ground, or you just move the cursor over an icon. That's nice if you're into force feedback-type controllers.

However, the n30 is a very small mouse, and the buttons are extremely sensitive. As a result, I found the n30 hard to control, but kids or those with smaller hands might find it more forgiving.

Both the n50 and n30 connect to a PC with a USB port.

Information: 310-898-1100 or www.belkin.com.- Victor Godinez/KRT

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