4th March 2005 at 00:00
QuickPad IR. Keytools. pound;139. www.keytools.com

The QuickPad is a light and portable text processor that runs off four AA batteries. A full Qwerty keyboard is accompanied by extras such as a calculator key and a spell-check key. The screen is 40 characters wide and six lines deep, and there's no mouse or graphics, so the whole thing is controlled through the keyboard.

Text is stored in files, and files are stored in folders. The folders are designated by the function keys, F1 to F10, so you choose the folder by pressing the function key. To start a new file you give it a name then go to edit mode and type.

Connecting to a desktop computer involves plugging an infra-red (IR) unit into a computer's keyboard socket (the existing keyboard goes into the IR unit, so there's no need for regular unplugging). You transfer your text by pressing the Send File key, which pumps the characters down the line as if they were being typed. In this way, the text can be transferred into any word processor.

The pros are that the QuickPad has no moving parts, is robust, and, once file and folders are set up by the teacher, is easy to use. However, there is no low-power back-up, so you lose any stored text if you change batteries, or they go flat.

The QuickPad is in competition with the Neo (reviewed in the December issue) but loses out on several counts: the file handling is more complicated, there is no thesaurus and the spelling checker is in US English. On the other hand, the QuickPad does have a built-in typing tutor and is pound;80 cheaper.

Pam Turnbull

ICT co-ordinator, The Heys primary school, Ashton-under-Lyne

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