Broderbund Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 17
- Lots of lessons, easy to use
- Graphics are slightly dated
An easy to use typing tutor that covers all the basics and more
Price$ 49.95 (AUD)
You may be shocked to hear this, but we're afraid it's the truth: Mavis Beacon does not really exist. The smiling face that has graced the box for 17 consecutive versions of the product is in fact a Caribbean model. Nevertheless, Mavis Beacon remains the world's number one typing tutor and this latest version is a welcome update. With over 250 lessons and multiple practice modes available, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 17 is a comprehensive product. A deluxe version is also available that offers even more, with the ability to import files for custom lessons. Installing the package is as simple as can be, with the relatively meagre system requirements of a Pentium III 450 Mhz with 64Mb of RAM meaning any computer from the last couple of years will run the program easily.
The Mavis Beacon main screen, dubbed the 'classroom', offers a choice between practice sessions, full lessons or games. One feature that Broderbund are keen to point out is the newly added support for personalised music on the main screen. This is a nice feature, as the cheesy elevator music soon begins to grate.
First up are the lessons. These take a format almost identical to that of SpongeBob Squarepants Typing, which isn't surprising as they are both produced by the same company. Each group of keys is taught over several lessons, with finger placement and accuracy first, then combinations of other keys, gradually building up to speed training. Each lesson is graded for speed and accuracy and can be repeated or skipped should the user desire.
The lessons are interspersed with various arcade style games. Twelve are included, which range from mind-numbingly dull to the outright bizarre. Several are simply too basic to be of any fun, or of much use to learning. To call them games is perhaps too great a claim; pressing the corresponding key when a letter flashes on the screen is not our idea of entertainment. But once you get past the first few, things liven up a lot. One of our favourites was undersea karaoke, complete with a frenzied dancing crab that does a jig whenever you correctly match the keys. Another is a lesson in genetic engineering, with various mutated animals appearing depending on which words the user types. That said, entertaining as they are, their longevity is doubtful.
Practice mode is one of the most useful features. Here the program provides a near endless list of documents in various formats that can be typed against the clock. In addition to typing out standard text, the user can opt for HTML code and even lists of emoticons as practice documents. Some texts can also be dictated, which is a useful addition, though we felt there should have been more. The other problem with dictation is the program's insistence on using American spelling. One of the first sentences in the practice text refuses to advance until 'catalog' is entered. This isn't a problem while copying on-screen text, but when using dictation mode where the only prompt is auditory, those not used to American spelling may be confused.
On the whole, Mavis Beacon is a decent product. There's a lot to learn and a lot of practice modes. The program can be tailored to differing age groups and even has support for learning the ten-key number pad.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia X Performance review: Sony’s most disappointing product in years
- 2 Huawei P9 review: lifting photography to another level... sometimes.
- 3 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 4 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 5 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- HFC services officially join NBN mix
- Twitter's new stickers are more useful than Snapchat
- A lawsuit over an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade just cost Microsoft $10,000
- Obama, Zuckerberg push better broadband, innovative startups
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCLinux Systems AdministratorVIC
- CCLead Communications ConsultantWA
- CCContract System Analyst (Renewable Contract)Asia
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/J2EE/SQL) 160616/AP/185Asia
- FTNV2 Defence Project ManagerACT
- CCData AnalystVIC
- CCSpatial DeveloperQLD
- CCOracle iLearning Business AnalystNSW
- CCIT Change Manager - Western SydneyNSW
- CCWindows 2003-2012 R2 Active Directory Consultant/ManagerNSW
- CCITSM ConsultantNSW
- CCSalesforce Technical Business AnalystNSW
- CC.net DeveloperACT
- FTFront End .Net Developer (.Net / Angular / Bootstrap)NSW
- FTTechnical/Solutions ArchitectNSW
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- CCRelease and Deployment ManagerACT
- CCProject Manager | Experimental military technology | NV1ACT
- FTMobility Developer x 2 - iOS and Android positions available!NSW
- CCSolution Architect / Designer - Cyber SecurityNSW
- CCRuby on Rails DeveloperNSW
- FTUX DesignerVIC
- CCSystems Engineer / Applications Scripting DeveloperSA
- CCSr Java Developer-JSP/Servlet,Hibernate, EJB3, Spring, RESTfulNSW
- CCJunior PM/ConsultantACT