As more and more computer programs adapt the icons and pull-down menus of graphic interfaces, once-speedy touch typists are resigning themselves to having to lift a hand from the keys to grope for a nearby mouse. But now, thanks to an ingenious keyboard enhancement, they needn't leave the comfort of the home row. With the enhancement a conventional J key, endowed with sensitive electronics and sophisticated software, becomes a highly accurate pointing device through a simple flick of a finger.
A sensor embedded under the cap transforms the key into what is essentially a miniature mouse. Instead of the natural downward stroke (which types the J as usual), the typist pushes the key in the direction he or she wants the cursor to move. Licensed to original equipment manufacturers by patent holder Home Row, a Clackamas, Oreg., research-and-development company, the space- and effort-saving J-Mouse is available in a standard 101-key desktop layout and is being adapted to the cramped quarters of portables.
Also available: the J.M. Keyboard ($149.95, from Sejin America, 800-283-4080, extension 840). As the typist's right forefinger holds down the J key, he or she punches one of up to 12 other keys, which function as mouse "buttons." A boon to mouse-dependent systems like Microsoft Windows, the keys can be preassigned specific operations such as click, double click, delete, and undo. -- Robert A. Mamis