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FAQ - Technical Details

Specific features of the TAP programs

Headword real time priority

The TAP programs are software for the measurement of reaction times in the range of milliseconds.
To assure the precision of measurements within a multi-task operating system like Windows - which is laid out to perform multiple tasks at the same time - the single subtests of the programs are run with so called "real time priority".
This means that a subtest takes precedence over any other running process.
Unfortunately, however, this "real time priority" is not absolutely unproblematic potentially - it makes higher demands on the drivers for graphic and sound hardware and experiencing problems during a subtest could lead to an instability of the operating system.
But this risks were taken deliberately to guarantee the correctness of the test results. 
Moreover the experience shows (both in our tests as well as in "field use") that problems with the TAP programs originally caused by "real time priority" only appear rarely.
However, especially when using Windows 2000 (but of course also with Windows XP, Vista and 7) you should make sure that the operating system is up-to-date, because older sound drivers and older DirectX versions are known to cause problems outstandingly often.


Headword copy protection ("Dongle")

For copy protection the TAP programs are using the so called Hardlock (older versions) or HASP encryption (with newer versions) of Safenet/Aladdin.
This copy protection system requires an USB key (the older Hardlock encryption and in particular the TAP for MS-DOS use a parallel port model), which is necessary for operating the program, i.e. it has to be connected with the computer.
This so called "dongle" is part of the delivery of any TAP program and the necessary driver will be installed automatically during a standard setup.
By default the encryption is not network-compatible, i.e. the USB dongle must be connected locally to the computer. Technically possible are also network-enabled versions, where the TAP programs must still be installed locally, but the USB dongle can be connected to a server within the network, so that several TAP licenses could be served centrally. If needed, please contact us directly.
The utilization of the programs (both the main programme and the subtests) isn't neither time limited nor limited to a specific amount of program starts.


System requirements

Every desktop PC or laptop which runs a Microsoft operating system of the NT branch (Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7) is suitable for the TAP programs.

Further requirements like

  • CD-ROM drive
  • sound output
  • USB interface
  • DirectDraw capable graphics

are most likely given with today's standard configurations.


Headword parallel port

With the current versions of the TAP programs (TAP 2.3, KiTAP 1.5, TAP-M 1.3) a parallel port is no longer necessary.
So the following is only relevant for older versions.

The necessity of a parallel port interface (due to measurement requirements) may be more problematic though.
Parallel ports are considered as outdated within the consumer area these days - USB provides practical alternatives in most cases - and are rarely built into the devices anymore.

But both desktop PCs and laptops can be upgraded in most cases.

Problems with the upgrading exist, on the one hand, with desktop PCs of very compact construction (slimline, barebone, etc.), on the other hand with laptops without extension card slot (PCMCIA or express), which may be the case with divices primarly made for home use.
Therefore you should pay attention to the upgrade options if you are planning to purchase a new device.

First: So called USB-to-parallel adapters are not suitable - the TAP programs need a "real" parallel port with an accessible hardware address.

However the following devices are appropriate:

  • PCI- or PCIExpress cards (for desktop PCs)
  • PCMCIA-/PC- or express parallel port cards (for laptops)

Which of these alternatives apply to your device can be looked up in the manual, but also on-line on the manufacturer's web site.

Some examples for suitable products (external links):

Cards of other manufacturers are also suitable of course; one has just to make sure that the according product upgrades a "real" parallel port - sometimes there are products which internally only use an USB solution.
The following table provides a short (of course not definitive or even complete) overview of currently known suitable and unsuitable products for laptops:

Express Cards PCMCIA Cards
Suitable Unsuitable Suitable Unsuitable
EX-1376 - ExpressCard with 1P Parallel SPP/EPP/ECP Ports M-CAB Express Card, 1x parallel Port, 34mm EX-1356 - PCMCIA with 1P Parallel SPP/EPP/ECP Port
Delock Express Card to 1x Parallel Nr. 662201 Delock Express Card to 1x Parallel Nr. 66215 LINDY 1*Parallel CardBus Adapter
LINDY 1*Parallel ExpressCard/34 LogiLink Express Card Interface Card Parallel 1x Delock PCMCIA-Adapter CardBus to 1x Parallel Nr. 616121
MANHATTAN Parallel ExpressCard/34, Model 158022 Delock PCMCIA Adapter, CardBus to 1 x parallel Nr. 616241
Digitus Parallel Port ExpressCard, DS-31206 M-CAB PCMCIA CardBus - 1x parallel Port1
Cardbus Interface Card Parallel 1x LogiLink1
Digitus parallel interface card, DS-32020

Suitable, according to own tests

Suitable, according to the manufacturer's support

1Please note: Windows 7 is not explicitly listed as a supported operating system on the manufacturer's driver download site. However, the drivers work with Windows 7 according to our tests.

It has to be made clear that the listing of a product as "not suitable" must not be understood as a quality statement.

Unfortunately, some data sheets/product descriptions may be inexact or faulty. If you have any doubts regarding a product please contact us directly in order to avoid a mispurchase

In case there are problems obtaining such additional hardware you may purchase suitable products from us, too. To do so please make contact with us directly.


Headword monitor

The norm data acquisition was once realised using a 15 inch CRT screen. This raises the question, whether the test readings ascertained by using a flat screen are still comparable because so called TFTs show slower reaction times in general regarding display speed.
Whereas it was a problem at the beginning of the "TFT era" (delays about 30-40ms and above) the rapid technological development has lead to reaction times by now, which make the appliance of the TAP programs using a flat screen possible.
We recommend a reaction time <8 ms. Precise information can usually be found in the data sheet of the product.
Furthermore a display as little reflective as possible is advantageous. In addition if acquiring a so called wide-screen display with an aspect ration of 16:9 or 16:10 one should pay attention that the device can also handle 4:3 resolution (with black bars right and left) in order to make sure that the instruction screens and stimuli presentations (which are designed for 4:3, more precisely: 1024*768) are not distorted.
The website of PRAD is a good first place to go regarding all questions around purchase, reaction times, monitor tests, response times, etc.


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