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Computer hardware.

Keys to computer comfort

Most people could care less what's under the hood of their computers--whether the microprocessor is a 386, a 486, a DX or an SX. They care more about the keyboard, because that's the part of the computer that affects them most directly. A badly designed keyboard can be a pain in the neck--and shoulders, arms, hands and wrists, too.

Here are a few keyboards designed to enhance your comfort:

* The J. M. Keyboard eliminates the need for a conventional mouse or trackball. It incorporates several functions to make the cursor control operations in Windows application programs fast and easy. The J key, which is in the middle of the keyboard, substitutes for the mouse. If the key is held down and then wriggled--up, down, left or right--the cursor moves accordingly. The harder the key is pressed, the faster the--cursor moves. When the J key is held down, the F key and the space bar automatically convert to clicking activators. What makes this design especially useful is that users don't have to lift a hand from the keyboard to control the mouse--a plus for fast typists.

The double-click operation, which is tricky for users because it requires near-perfect timing, can be performed easily by holding down the J and the G keys simultaneously.

The keyboard has other Windows enhancements: The Q key turns into an escape key, while other keys perform typical mouse actions such as CUT, COPY, PASTE and UNDO. The price of the keyboard is $99.50.

The keyboard, originally only for desktop computers, is becoming available for laptops and notebooks, too.

For more information, write to Sejin America, Inc., 1288 Hammerwood Avenue, Sunnyvale, California 94089, or call (408) 980-7550.

* The Erase-Eaze Key is a keyboard that recognizes the reason pencils have erasers: People make mistakes and need a fast and easy way to erase them. Erase-Eaze's space bar is split in two: the right half performs the normal spacing function, while the left half acts as a backspace key--backing up the cursor and erasing as it goes. The developers reasoned the backspace function shouldn't be tucked out of the way in the upper-right-hand corner of the keyboard.

The quick-erase feature is especially handy for CPAs who use the number keypad. Since the space bar is easy to find, errors can be corrected without hitting the wrong key while aiming for the out-of-the-way backspace key. The keyboard can be easily reprogrammed for lefthanders, too. Erase-Eaze costs $72.

For more information, write to Keyboard Advances, Inc., 505 North Third Street, Fairfield, Iowa 52556, or call (515) 472-0353.

* MiniErgo is an ergonomic keyboard designed in a split, or V-shaped, configuration. The idea is to place the user's hands at a slight inward angle, which, the designers say, produces less stress on the wrists. With a standard keyboard, the hand must work parallel to the work surface, imposing more stress on the wrists. Repeated stress and awkward hand movements can irritate the nerves of the wrists, causing carpal tunnel syndrome; its symptoms are numb and painful hands and wrists. The MiniErgo comes with an optional number pad. The keyboard costs $179.

For more information, write to Marquardt Switches Inc., 2711 Route 20 East, Cazenovia, New York 13035, or call (315) 655-8050.

* Kinesis is similar to MiniErgo. However, its keys are not only V-slanted, but recessed into the keyboard in a concave design--creating a shape the developers say enhances hand comfort even more. Its price is $390.

For more information, write to Kinesis Corp., 915 118th Avenue Southeast, Bellevue, Washington 98005, or call (206) 455-9220.

* FlexPro addresses the issue of ergonomics differently. Its keys fit into a standard-looking flat keyboard. However, with a p of a button the keys two segments and pop up at an angle out of the keyboard, configuring into a design like the MiniErgo. The angle is adjustable. The keyboard also contains two adjustable hand rest pads at the base, increasing typing comfort. Its price is $489.

For more information, write to Key Tronic Corp., P.O. Box 14687, Spokane, Washington 99214, or call (509) 928-8000.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:ergonomic keyboard designs
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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