Review - UltraKey Version 4.0

Library Journal, Volume 126, No. 17, October 15, 2001

UltraKey Version 4.0

Windows 95/98/NT/Mac OS 7.5 or later. 2000
Price: $49.95 for single user; multistation and network license available.

Keyboarding software has advanced a lot since I learned to type on a monochromatic Apple IIe. UltraKey Version 4.0 is an interactive, multimedia CD-ROM seeking to improve the typing skills of all age groups. It provides everything from instructions on finger placement to tests and progress reports, all within a colorful and responsive interface.

The disc comes with a comprehensive and well-designed manual, and on-screen help is available. Most users won’t need much help, though––the disc is easy to install, and the recommended path from one section to another is clear. When a user logs on for the first time, the system recommends beginning with lessons on correct posture, and it reminds the user to check his or her posture at regular intervals throughout the disc. Considering the frequency of PC-related injuries, this ergonomic emphasis is a boon.

The disc is easy to navigate, and skipping from one section to another is simple. Users can choose to learn keystrokes, practice typing, or test themselves. Upon request, the system generates a printer-friendly report that shows how successfully each section has been completed. The report includes a measurement of the typist’s speed (in words per minute) and accuracy level.

Users can choose their proficiency level when they begin, which allows absolute beginners and intermediate typists alike to feel challenged. Several other features are adjustable, including the color-coded keyboard display. The system gives meaningful feedback based on the typist’s performance.

The bottom Line: UltraKey Version 4.0 is recommended for public libraries’ reference and circulating collections. Be aware that some of the instruction relies on videos with accompanying sound recordings; the disc will load QuickTime if it is not on the machine at the time of installation.

-- Carrie Macfarlane, Research Svcs., Widener Libl, Harvard Univ.

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