TAPE DECKS ONLY FOR THE DEDICATED
JUDGING from our mailbag many users experience difficulty finding a suitable cassette deck to use with their computer. Ever ready to bow to your wishes we obtained two computer-dedicated decks for review.
The first, the Twillstar MC3810, priced £25.95, made us realise the sort of problems you are liable to encounter. The instructions are completely in German.
Special cassette leads are supplied for the Spectrum which terminate, at the deck end, in a six-pin and a seven-pin DIN plug. Why so many pins are required when only two are used is still a mystery.
The drive mechanism is held vertically and features full autostop and an air-damped door. It has a counter and there are five lights on the front which show if you are loading or saving, and if a signal is present.
The deck saved and loaded with no problems - you do not have to swop leads - and managed to load our specially-prepared poor quality tape.
Hoping to fare better we looked at the second deck, the Binatone Data Recorder, priced £29.95. This is more compact than the Twillstar unit and has the power supply inside - you have to add your own mains plug. It uses the Sinclair supplied cassette leads and the instructions, in English, even have a diagram of a Spectrum showing what to plug in where.
The deck mechanism is again held vertically and the door damped. To the right is a counter, on/off switch and monitor switch. On the side is a volume control, although it features an ALC - Automatic Level Control - and a phase switch which inverts the signal. The whole thing is securely held in a beige plastic case.
We saved a program and then tried to load it back. This proved to be impossible. The tape would load on another cassette recorder and we could hear the signal using the monitor, but it just would not load.
Details from Twillstar Computers Ltd, 17 Regina Road, Southall, Middlesex UB2 5PL. Tel: 01-574 5271, and Binatone International Ltd, Binatone House, 1 Beresford Avenue, Wembley, Middlesex HA0 1YX. Tel: 01-903 5211.
Binatone Data Recorder