ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
THE CPD8300 tape recorder is designed to replace the Ferguson recorder as a standard tape recorder for personal computers. The main difference is that it has been designed as a data recorder - although it can still be used for speech - and has a switch at the back marked Spectrum. It runs from 240-volt mains only and has a power ON/OFF switch and power-on LED.
It also has a number of extra facilities which should have made it easier to use with the ZX-81 and Spectrum.
There are sockets at the back of the recorder marked REMOTE, SOUND IN and AUX. The AUX socket is designed for high-level inputs to the recorder but unless it was used for the Spectrum it could not record properly.
The powerful amplifier built into the tape recorder - 400mw - is the biggest cause of the problems in using the tape recorder. The volume control and level meter are not accurate enough to allow you to set up the correct SAVEing and LOADing level.
The level should be 7-8 when SAVEing and between 4-8 when LOADing, depending on the computer. The entire range of the level meter appears between two and three on the volume control when LOADing. There are 10 sections on the volume control and it would have been better if a second fine-tuning volume control had been incorporated.
On SAVEing, the Spectrum MIC lead had to be plugged into the AUX socket to register on the meter and the ZX-81 input had to be adjusted at about 5 on the volume control using the SAVE socket.
Once the correct levels had been achieved it was easy enough to SAVE and LOAD but they had to be changed to VERIFY a recording. The level meter is undamped. It is too easy to overload it and when SOUND is used on the speaker switch, the needle shakes violently. At £39.95 the recorder appears overpriced, although W H Smith has promised modifications.