By Cory Doctorow at 4:25 am Mon, Aug 25, 2008
@#24 posted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden:
Really? The Mary Tyler Moore font?! Comic Sans is a zillion times less artful…
Cory – While I cannot comment on this particular item, a very similar product called the “My Board” has available for about a decade now.
Based on a conversation I had some years back with a representative at the company, the My Boards are manufactured with heavy-duty industrial switches – the same used on manufacturing lines. According to the person I spoke with “these are the only things we could find that could stand-up to the average 4-year-old and survive”.
(The software bundle it comes with however is indeed junk – so out-of-date as to be unusable on modern Windows.)
I’ve bought two of these My Boards in the last few years for my own kids, as well as twice giving them as gifts, and everyone has been a success, and every one has survived the child it was originally bought for, to be passed-down to someone else.
The Crayola one looks similar to the My Board, but as a mass-produced item I’d certainly question if the Crayola is built with the same heavy-duty manufacturing quality as the My Board.
Why use Comic Sans? At a guess, to make it seem more fun, cute, and kid-friendly. It may not work on the kids, but it’ll work on grownups, and they’re the ones who make the buying decisions.
I don’t understand this intense aversion to Comic Sans either, and I am a typography geek. It’s not as though they’d used a truly godawful font like Peignot, for pete’s sake.
As long as we’re on the topic of colorful, little kid-friendly electronics gadgets, I strongly recommend these two, both from the same company:
– The “weemote” is a kid and parent-friendly remote control, which is compatible with all sorts of TVs and cable boxes (and DVRs being used for TV-only functions as a cable box). Parents can pre-program up to ten kid-friendly stations, and that’s what the kids can watch – no getting to channels where they don’t belong. Ours is pre-programmed for PBS Sprout, Noggin, Discovery Kids, etc.
– The “weemote dV” is the company’s DVD/DVR remote for kids. With just eight buttons, kid’s have access to all the functions they need to watch their recorded shows (our four-year-old uses his to watch his recorded shows on the Tivo Series2 in our playroom).
(FYI – the weemote has been around for something close to a decade, so anyone thinking the name may be a play on a certain Nintendo product, it’s not.)
I used to volunteer at my local library, and they had a kid’s computer set up with games with a keyboard very similar to this.
It had the kind of construction that said “I’m not made out of expensive materials, but you could throw me to the moon and I’d still type.” Kind of like cheap alarm clocks and such. It was neat, because it had different important parts of the keyboard in different colors (like the home row, all the modifier keys, and the arrow and numpad blocks). It looked like a great way to introduce kids to the sometimes perplexing beast that is the keyboard.
Comic Sans…. WHYYYYYYYYYY
I think it’s an odd choice to use upper-case letters. This might just be a UK thing, but here children learn the lower-case alphabet first. The computers I’ve seen in infant schools (um… kindergarden? Ages 5-8ish) always have lower-case letter stickers covering the usual upper-case letters on the keyboards.
Also, seconding the “aargh” at Comic Sans. On the upside, lower case Comic Sans uses the same letter forms children are actually taught to use here: no serifs, extra stokes or weird squiggle over the letter “a”.
19: I actually quite approve of the non-staggered layout. The staggering is a horrid relic of the days when internal mechanisms dictated such a layout. Related to hand position, the keys are somewhat friendly to the right hand and completely nonsensical for the left.
Of course, I’m picky about such things ever since I bought myself a Kinesis Advantage. Best. Keyboard. Ever.
How about Baby’s First Dvorak?
I can just see these kids reciting their alphabet – Q W E R T Y U I O P …
Seriously, the only toddler-friendly keyboard is one that is cheap enough that you won’t mind replacing it when the kid smashes it to bits pounding on it. Unless the Crayola keyboard has some kind of special durability features built-in, it’s probably not worth the premium such items demand at the cash-register. As the original post said, geeks everywhere would want one for themselves because it looks so kewl.
Cool, no Windows key! No more dumping to desktop whilst trying to crouch in an FPS. ;)
Thirding the Comic Sans…unless it ONLY outputs Comic Sans, in which case it would be awesomes.
I can think of many people I’d like to ‘bless’ with a keyboard that only outputs Comic Sans.
Right wing bloggers, politicians, and people who design funeral notices for instance.
In the US it’s more common to teach the upper case letters first because they are thought to be easier to read and write.
Crayola has been sticking their hands into a lot of things lately. I’ve seen Crayola toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other consumables. I don’t mind the keyboard so much, but in general Crayola should stick to what it does best: Art Supplies.
Reminds me of the Amstrad CPC464 keyboard a little – that was very brightly coloured, which made it surprisingly appealing to me as a kid.
Heh! I love BB…you folks are just as disgusted with the horrible Comic Sans as I am.
So if not Comic Sans (I share the horra) what would you rather see?
Unfortunately this keyboard still has the little gaps between the keys which will ensure that if an actual child uses it the keyboard will be full of bits of dirt, hair, food and random small objects within weeks. A kids’ keyboard needs to be designed so it can be wet wiped.
It would seem to me that a keyboard built for kids should be wireless. The last thing any parent wants to see is their daughter/son walking away from the desk with keyboard in hand, forcing the lcd flat panel monitor to take a flying leap to the floor.
I never have understood the Comic Sans hate. Maybe if I were a font nerd…
Reminds me of the old Compucolor computer keyboard. But you young whippersnappers here are way too young to remember that.
Upper case IS easier to write. As a sign painter, I can assure you they’re much easier to paint.
There’s no number pad. How am I going to enter numbers into my spreadsheet in Comic Sans if there’s no number pad?
…This reminds me too much of that cheap-but-not-priced-as-such Star Trek keyboard that came out a decade or so back. The one that had “…The Final Frontier!” on the Space Bar? IIRC, that one didn’t have F-keys either.
Ha! When I read the headline for this story I thought it was a keyboard and mouse MADE OUT OF crayolas. I liked that idea very much!
I would think this would be hard for adults to type on, since the keys are aligned vertically rather than staggered like a standard touch-typeable keyboard.
Is there an advantage for kids to use a keyboard that’s (mis)aligned this way?
This looks exactly like the Clevy keyboard that is being marketed for $99 to the educational and special needs communities. And even at $99 it’s sold out and backordered on some websites.
So, bravo to Crayola!!
Granted, there are few appropriate uses of Comic Sans, but this is one of them. Read the wikipedia article on this font, and you will see it was designed to interface with kids. Do not use Comic Sans for corporate signage, emails, logos, memos, or your website, but this seems an entirely valid use!
#18: That was my first thought too. Kids have narrow shoulders, thus their arms come straight at the keyboard. So this may make sense for them. For a full grown adult, though, this would be a nightmare to type on. If you can touch-type now, you probably can’t on this keyboard.
We’ve had the Crayola keyboard and mouse now for a couple years for an old iMac we bought for the five-year-old. He loves it, it’s fairly indestructable, and the mouse is worth the price of admission alone–at night, in a darkened living room, the little mouse just flickers away like a tiny disco in the corner of the room…
I’ve actually been looking for a rectilinear keypad for a while; looks like my project just got a little more “festive”
Yikes! Comic sans and an Escape key!
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