ROUGH BUT REASONABLE
MANCOMP is the latest company to enter the highly competitive add-on keyboard market for the Spectrum. Its MO184 keyboard is attractively styled but unfortunately its looks are deceptive.
The casing is large, and has a cut-out for the power supply and an indent at the top to hold a pen. The black top half is constructed from glass fibre; that makes cutting it or screwing the base to it difficult unless you have muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The green base, is made of an indeterminable material, rather brittle around the screw holes. To fit a Spectrum the top half of its case is removed and the bottom half fitted to the base. It is held by two plastic tabs at the front - barely adequate, especially if an Interface 1 is fitted. There is nothing between the Spectrum PCB and the keyboard PCB, a potentially dangerous state of affairs. When fitting Interface 1 a slot for the microdrive lead will have to be cut in the casing.
The keyboard has the usual forty keys, although the bottom row is not offset as in the standard QWERTY layout, plus extra ones. On the right is a numeric pad with an extra Enter and single function Full Stop. The main pad has two extra Caps Shifts, in yellow, and one extra Symbol Shift, in red. There is also a Break key and four cursor keys, in green, placed either side of the full size space bar, which all require shifting. The legends are stuck on but are due to be replaced with directly printed ones.
You will either like the feel of the keys or not. The tops occasionally foul the switches, depending on where you press them.
Provided you are prepared to spend some time working on it the keyboard could be made reasonable, but it costs £54.95 and there are many others within the same price range with much more going for them. For further information contact Mancomp Ltd, FREEPOST, Manchester M19 3BR. Tel: 061-224-1888.