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 newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony WF-1000XM4 review: These noise-canceling earbuds have all-around appeal
- 2 Acer Swift X review: A rare ultraportable laptop with bite
- 3 Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station review: Good for venturing off the grid
- 4 Razer Naga Trinity review: The last best MMO gaming mouse
- 5 Dynabook Portégé X30W-J – a very good all-rounder
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft offers beta fix for Ryzen performance issues on Windows 11
- Edit PDFs right in your browser with Adobe’s upgraded Acrobat extension
- Windows 11 hurts AMD Ryzen performance even more than we thought
- No, Geekbench didn’t just eradicate CPU leaks
- TPG launches new 5G Home Broadband plans as alternative to the NBN
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- Suunto releases the Suunto 9 Peak sports watch in Australia
- The best Aussie mobile phone plan deals in October 2021
- Valheim Hearth and Home update is a builder's dream, say the developers
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies