P.O. Box 14628
Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Charles Bachand
Does anybody remember the Atari 400? This kid brother of the classic Atari 800 was known for its small size and its use of a flat, plastic keyboard that offered little to no tactile feedback. The keyboard on the ST feels similar to the 400's, because underneath those white sculptured keys, it too possesses a flat keyboard.
Now don't get me wrong, I happen to like the design of these keyboards—there are no exposed electrical contacts to speak of, and, because of this, each key has a high operating life. The one big gripe (the obvious one) that I do have with them is their mushy feel. The keys on the ST are just too easy to hit and, subsequently, are the cause of many typographical errors. For example, brushing your finger over the letter X on your way to the letter C usually is enough to start you driving a "XCAR" own a "XCAT" and get milk from a "XCOW." These constant typos force you to re-read each and every paragraph immediately upon typing it, in order to catch these obvious mistakes.
Unfortunately, I (and I suspect others) subconsciously took another route to the land of better typing, that of crouching over the keyboard in an attempt to keep one's arms high enough to prevent the occasional brush with an unwanted key top. Over the years this practice tends to lead to lower-back aches and pains. All of this can be avoided with a set of Megatouch keyboard springs.
The installation of the Megatouch springs requires prying off the plastic key tops of your keyboard, installing the springs underneath them and replacing the key tops. This is a boring and time-consuming operation, taking almost an hour in my case, but since it is essentially a one-time-only operation, the benefits far outweigh any inconveniences encountered.
While you have the key tops off, I might suggest that you get some soap and water and remove that layer of dirt and oil that has accumulated on them over the years. A little elbow grease might be needed for the really ground-in dirt.
The installation instructions suggest placing the springs with the narrow ends pointing down. I found the going easier when the wide end faced down. A subsequent phone call to Frank Cohen, president of Regent Software, laid my fears to rest. There really isn't a wrong way to mount Megatouch springs.
Frank tells me that Megatouch has proved to be a popular accessory and that Regent Software has already sold over 500,000 individual springs. I think he's trying to catch up to McDonald's hamburgers. He also said that, due to the success of Megatouch, Regent Software will be bringing other low-priced ST gizmos to market. I don't know about other people, but I personally would like to see a set of replacement key tops. That's a hint, Frank.
A word of warning: There are three keys in particular that the instructions don't recommend that you touch. These are the Return key, the left-hand Shift key and the space bar. Since these are the widest keys on the keyboard, they incorporate small metal rods as bracings to prevent wobble. It is difficult to reassemble these keys once they are apart. Unless you've done this before (or have three hands), I recommend that they be left alone.
There really is little else to be said about Megatouch other than they work great and that I find it difficult to imagine how I got along so many years without them. They are available from your local computer store that caters to the ST or direct from the Regent Software. Tell them that Charlie sent you.
Charles Bachand, a former ST-LOG and ANALOG technical editor, loves to drive his 300ZX, race R/C cars and manage the Hobby SIG on DELPHI. His DELPHI username is BACHAND.
The ST-LOG diskette contains 17 magazine files. They are listed below.
AUGUST 1989 • DISK LISTINGS