Homekey from Simplicity
In developing this product, Simplicity has concentrated on people’s needs rather than the means. Everything is on its Homekey which is a 16GB memory stick which plugs into a USB port on an existing desktop or laptop PC (not a Mac). It then enables users to lose their fear of PCs and carry out many of those tasks which so many of us just take for granted. These include writing documents, emailing, using the Web for research, examining, editing and printing their photos as well as keeping in touch with friends and relatives around the world using Skype.
In operation, the user first of all sees a large “envelope” on the computer screen with keywords: Email, Web, Documents Photos, and Tutorials. In the centre there is also the single word Home.
It is a simple task to use the mouse to select the particular task such as, for example, email. As one steers the cursor to the appropriate area on the screen and clicks the mouse button, the opening screen disappears to be replaced by one relating to the specific task in hand. In this case, one is then offered the choice of reading emails, writing emails, address book and, yet again, tutorials. This is typical of the straightforward jargon-free approach adopted which will make it easy for the newbie to actually get results.
When users gain more experience and confidence, they can change from beginner to advanced settings. This takes them to more sophisticated applications such as the word processor which forms part of the Linux version of OpenOffice which is also on the Homekey stick.
Documentation provided is a 16-page Getting Started guide plus tutorials on-screen and in the form of a 64-page booklet. Both paper guides are A4 in size and are nicely printed on good quality paper in a jargon-free style.
The simple and direct approach adopted by Simplicity with Homekey will appeal to many people, especially the elderly, who have been deterred by the complexity of the normal PC. I found that, after a few minutes guidance, an elderly lady (a self-confessed Luddite) managed to send her first email. Now she has overcome her fear of the unknown, she will want to use the Homekey in earnest.
The company claims that it can be used with virtually any desktop or laptop PC that has been made within the last eight years or so. Consequently, it can be used with a machine that has been superseded and is sitting gathering dust in the corner or on refurbished one that can be bought relatively cheaply.
The Simplicity Homekey is priced at £69.95 or £89.95, including 7 days “setup support (plus, in both cases, £6.95 p&p) from www.simplicitycomputers.co.uk. As the support charge is relatively small, it can be seen that Simplicity does not expect people to have major installation and setup problems. This is borne out by my own experience with installing it on an 8-year old laptop.
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