BigKeys In The News


  Originally published by AARP May 30, 2001:


BigKeys LX

by Sandy Berger


A keyboard targeted at both the young and senior markets.


The purpose of this keyboard is obvious from the start; no subtlety here. A quick glance at the keyboard shows large keys almost four times bigger than the normal ones. The size of the keys seems to make the keyboard itself look larger than a standard one, but that is only an illusion. It is a full size keyboard - 7 inches by 18 inches. But with sixty oversized keys. Every key is an extra large 1" square button with easy to read labels in large block print on bright white keys. The lettering itself is 1/2 inch tall.


The size of the keyboard gives us a good indication about its purpose. This BigKeys LX is designed for adult computer users who require very large keys in order to locate and operate a keyboard. These users will have no interest in speed typing.


The rapidly growing senior computer segment and some of the 48 million people with disabilities may be very interested in the BigKeys. People with limited vision or restricted fine motor skills will appreciate a larger keyboard to read and operate. The design focus is followed throughout the product. The keyboard size and dual layout choices as well as some of the special functions are targeted for the keyboarder with restricted skills. The large letters, however, are also well suited for young children.


The BigKeys keyboard comes in two models. The Plus Model, intended for basic word processing, spreadsheet work, and e-mail, has a simple keyboard layout of forty-eight large keys eliminating the distracting or confusing keys. The LX model, which has additional keys, targets adult users with some restricted ability that still want a full keyboard.


BigKeys' Assist Mode comes to the aid of keyboarders who find it difficult to press multiple keys at the same time. The Assist Mode enables users to successively press F and a numeric key rather than simultaneously pressing two keys to produce a special function. This keyboard also prevents run ons; depressing a single key causes one character to be sent to the computer no matter how long it is held down.


Another outstanding feature is the ability to switch the layout from QWERTY to ABC. A switch on the reverse side of the keyboard allows the layout to be changed from the standard layout called QWERTY to an ABC layout that may be easier to use for those who have never been trained to use a standard keyboard. The Hunt and Peck typists might like an alphabetical approach. The letter keycaps can be removed and reconfigured to comply with both layouts.


BigKeys is compatible with all major software packages. No special software is required. All you have to do is just plug it into your computer. If you would like to have two keyboards attached to your computer, one for a regular keyboarder and another for the BigKeys, a special adapter can connect both the BigKeys and standard keyboard to a PC at the same time. If you are interested, you can even try the keyboard before you buy. BigKeys allows credit card customers to try out the keyboard for up to ten days with no charges except shipping and handling.


Obviously, small-handed people may have a hard time reaching certain keys. I did find the keyboard to be rather noisy. It makes a "click" much like horse hoofs on pavement.


This product is targeted for a special market. That special market is certain to appreciate having a customized input device to help them enjoy the computing world.


In cyberlife, there should be no restrictions. Thanks BigKeys.