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Typing Software Reviews

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (Version 5)
by Mindscape

For Kids to Adults

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Typing software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC or Mac versions.



Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot Pentium90 with 24MB and a 2XCD

Content
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Version 5 is a well-polished program designed for everyone from a begining typist, to an experienced keyboard professional looking to improve their skills.

The program is based around a main screen that simulates a classroom setting. Lessons and drills are accessed by clicking on the image of a laptop computer, help is obtained by clicking on the ever-present Mavis Beacon figure, finger positions, results, and games are also just a click away.

Ease of Install / Use
Mavis installed easily on our test PC running Windows 3.1. Users are given the choice of a a minimal install (10MB), or a full install (60MB). We chose the smaller installation, and encountered no performance problems. Users reported no difficulty in understanding instructions, or navigating within the program.

Methodology
Mavis is a truly interactive program, analyzing the user's keyboard input on lessons and drills to generate future lessons. Do you frequently reverse the letters h and e when typing the word the? Mavis will catch it and include it in future drills. The program tracks the user's speed and accuracy for each letter on the keyboard, weights the letters for relative importance (e.g. it's more important that frequently used letters are typed quickly and accurately than lesser used characters), and designs subsequent lessons. "Pretty neat," according to one of our techie editors!

The program begins with a user sign-in so that individual typing skills and progress can be tracked and returned to for future use. A new user is then given the chance to either declare zero typing skills, or take a very short typing test - the test allows Mavis to determine what areas need work.

In addition to lessons and drills, the program includes a half-dozen arcade style games which provide a break from the lessons and drills, while providing additional practice time. Some of these would be attractive to younger children, but all would also work equally well with adults.

Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids' measure of how well a program captures and holds a child's attention, both initially, and longterm. Mavis scored well with all of our reviewers on this measure, both for independent use, and for continued use until the user reached his or her typing goals.

Best for...
Mavis Beacon is best suited for a user who is serious about learning to type. Although there may be some children as young as 9 who could successfully use this program, our reviewers felt it would be best for those 12 and above.

Bottom-Line
This is an excellent learn-to-type program.


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Typing software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC or Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1, Win95 System 7.1 or later
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 or faster 68040/33 or PowerMac
Hard Drive Space 10 MB minimum 10 - 60 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB
Graphics SVGA 640 x 480 x 256 colors 256 color monitor
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Windows 3.1 compatible sound card
Other Needs 14.4 kbs modem (optional)
printer (optional)
14.4 kbs modem (optional)
printer (optional)

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