Although we didn't find useful reviews of keyboards for children, we did see several keyboards that are marketed for that purpose. Chester Creek makes several kid-themed PC keyboards, including the the Crayola EZ Type Keyboard (*Est. $22) . That keyboard also comes as part of the Crayola 3-Piece Computer Kit (*Est. $40) with a mouse and mousepad. It features brightly colored keys with large letters, along with separate inverted-T-shaped cursor controls, and more than 30 users on Amazon.com give it an average of 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewers of the Crayola EZ Type say their kids almost universally find the oversize keys easier for small hands.
The Keys U See keyboard (*Est. $25) is oriented to people with visual impairment but might be good for children, too. The keyboard has large yellow keys with large print on a black background that are easy to read and press.The keys are also available in white or black. In addition, the U See keyboard has both USB and PS/2 connections. However, those who are visually impaired might instead be interested in purchasing large print stickers (*Est. $12), available from a few companies, which are less expensive.
Keyboard purists nostalgic for the "clack" and springboard feel of the classic IBM keyboards will like the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate (*Est. $120) . At ExtremeTech.com, Matthew Murray anoints it "one of best keyboards on the market" and says the gold-plated mechanical key switches deliver "superior" comfort and performance reminiscent of the IBM Model M. But the minimalist Ultimate features no multimedia keys, LCD screens, backlighting or wireless connectivity. And other than the product logo, no text is displayed on its austere, black finish; the key caps are blank. If you're not a touch typist, the Das Keyboard Model S Professional (*Est. $135) offers laser-etched key cap inscriptions.CNET says despite the stiff price tag and minimal feature set, both Das models offer a "truly satisfying experience," and editors experienced a noticeable increase in typing speed and accuracy.
The standard keyboard layout, also known as QWERTY, derives its name from the first six alphabet keys on the top left of a keyboard and is modeled after the mechanical typewriter. The layout was designed so that your key presses generally alternate between the left and right hands. It was also developed to minimize jams on a typewriter. Since the vast majority of people no longer need to worry about jamming a mechanical typewriter, critics have called for revisions to the standard QWERTY layout.
The only alternative to gain traction is the Dvorak keyboard layout, developed in 1936 by August Dvorak. The Dvorak layout places vowels on the keyboard's left and common consonants on the right. The most frequently used letters are placed along the home row, which is where you begin typing. People who prefer the Dvorak layout say it increases typing speed and reduces finger fatigue. The main keys are right under your hands or directly above, requiring the fingers to travel less distance on the keyboard.
While the Dvorak layout has failed to supplant the QWERTY layout, some keyboard models such as the Kinesis Advantage Contoured Keyboard (*Est. $270) allow users to switch between QWERTY and Dvorak layouts. The Kinesis Advantage is compatible with PCs and Macs. In addition, many operating systems such as Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 let you change to a Dvorak layout through the Control Panel. If you take that option, $12 key stickers may be a cheaper option than a Dvorak-labeled model.