Because the latest version of Mavis Beacon’s typing software has the phrase, “Powered by Ultrakey” in its title, it is reasonable to expect that the two programs have some similarities. However, we had a hard time finding any differences between Ultrakey 6 and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (MBTT) in the four hours we spent testing the two applications. Still, if you are going to clone a typing program, Ultrakey is a good one to choose.
Before you navigate through Mavis Beacon’s lesson plans, you take a skill assessment and review proper posture and finger placement. MBTT provides video tutorials along with audible playback. This was the first noticeable difference between MBTT and Ultrakey – MBTT gives audio instructions in a female voice rather than Ultrakey’s robot-sounding male one. The speech options menu allows you to choose which voice you want to read dictation and instructions. MBTT’s default background theme is also different, but you can change it in the options menu if you don’t like it – there are 12 to choose from, so you can adapt the user interface to fit your age and style.
Once you finish customizing the program and complete the posture tutorial, you are ready to start the lesson plans. Each lesson plan begins with a video tutorial that clearly outlines what you can expect to learn. The combination of video tutorials and interactive graphics are good for typists who are more adept at visual learning.
There are more than 100 lessons available in MBTT, but the software makes you complete them in a set sequence. If you are starting at an intermediate level, you can’t jump ahead to later lessons; you have to complete all the beginner ones. If you are an intermediate or advanced typing student, you will want to spend most of your time in the Typing Forum tab, where you can take typing tests and free-type.
If you find yourself getting bored with the monotonous nature of typing lessons, MBTT has six games that offer a change of scenery. The typing games in MBTT progress from novice to expert level. When you complete the six success-based games, you are awarded with Wizard status.
Mavis Beacon has been a popular typing program for more than 20 years, so it seems odd to put the name on software that is essentially a clone of another popular software in the industry. If you are a beginner to intermediate typist and are considering purchasing Ultrakey, we suggest saving yourself $20 and buying MBTT instead.