Technology Quadrant: Braille Device Showcase

Hello to all of you beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast nerd univerSe. Time for a new technology post!

Braille Device Showcase

As an Assisitive Technology Instructor, there are times where new technology encounters happen. I have been into different technology as it comes out and have some of it and it is in the braille device group. After having these since last spring, I am able to talk about these and it would be great to pass on this information to other visually impaired people. I have a feeling that some of you may be wondering, isn’t braille dead? It’s not actually, all thanks to new devices being developed over time, note taking has made braille a writing system that is as important as listening to audio books. I even use it for reading since I am about to head back to school this month. Shall we take a look with what I have but first I need to put this in!

Disclaimer

Using these devices is based on my personal experience. Please respect my thoughts on each device and what I’ve experienced. What you experience is not the same as other people’s experience. You’ve been warned.

Chameleon from American Printing House for the Blind

First up is the Chameleon from the American Printing House for the Blind. This is one of the newer displays to arrive last year and when I got my college refund I decided to pick one up. I’m used to the Ps style keyboard after using the Braille Sense U2 and Polaris for a few years and this one is smaller than these and the others I will be talking about. Plus, it’s very lightweight which had me take tThe Mantis is on my radar but may have to wait for another time to get his with me to RangerStop & Pop. Learning it was pretty easy with the built-in user guide and the chords are different since it not only requires the space bar with some of them, I mean space bars due to having two of them, but also the backspace and enter which gives some variety and it’s pretty responsive with each of them. One drawback is that there is a circular button which is the back button with the thumb keys to go line by lineThe back button takes you back to the main menu. You have to be careful with this since I tend to hit this by mistake even while typing.I do like to use this as a braille display with my Windows laptop and phone for a quick note.

Orbit Reader 40

To be honest, the Orbit Reader 40 is best for reading. This was the newest addition to the Orbit line alongside the 20+ and after purchasing this, I felt that I kind of regretted it and wished I got the 20+ instead because that had better reviews so far. I may get it this one down the road too, I will have to see how this year looks. It was pretty lightweight but the layout was different from the Chameleon since there were directional buttons along with the select key in the center of these arrow keys. THe arrow keys and the select key were used for certain menus and to select files that were on the SD card or a thumb drive. I can use the Orbit 40 as a display however it does not connect to everything it says it’s supposed to connect. Such as the Windows laptop with JAWS, it is supposed to use the Vario Ultra 40 as the emulation but it was not working even with the drivers you need, which I did install and still not working. Apparently, they are making their own but hadn’t seen any updates as of late, I will see if it’s ready in the next few weeks. It does connect to my phone and my Chrome Book very well though. Again, I rather use this for reading and get the 20+ and see how well that works. I(it’s sad that the smaller one has better reviews than the bigger one. Another drawback is that you have to download the updates, except the updates are hard to access. The best way of having them work is reading the directions they provide and just connect it to a Windows computer to install them.

QBraille XL 40

This one is more of a hybrid display because it is not only a Perkins style display but also a QWERTY style as well due to having keys you would find on a regular keyboard. I had Blind Services purchase this for me while still being in UMass Boston and my Mac Book they’ve gotten me didn’t have function keys due to the touch bar. I prefer having the physical keys since it’s hard for me to access the touch bar at times so I justified that issue. It works really well with the MacBook if you don’t have the function keys, apparently Apple has put them back on the newer Pro models which I guess that some people had issues as well with the touch bar or probably not liking it. If you’re wondering, the function keys on the Q Braille do work like they do on the Mac and would do the same if you use it with the PC. You can also use it to read books and for note taking and save onto the included SD card. One drawback though, the updates have to be downloaded from the internet and placed on the SD card. I suggest doing it on a Windows computer since it didn’t work on the Mac when it comes to downloading.

Braille Note Touch Plus

I will not try to talk too much about this one alongside the final one I will be talking about because I have a bog review on them both as a comparison and contrast post and best to see what I think about them since I’ve had this one close to a year and the next one, the Braille Sense 6, since fall after getting my Polaris upgraded during the summer. This is a tablet and a Braille display in one due to having a touch screen underneath the keyboard. This one has the apps a student can use such as Easy Reader, the Keysoft Suite, and more. It also has the Playstore for apps that can be used on top of it. Like I said above, I will be using this for school since I have some of my textbooks on Easy Reader which I will talk about more in the next review post.

Braille Sense 6

Finally, the newest addition to H. I. MM. S. and all I have to say is that this baby is faster than Polaris. Way faster! When I had my Polaris, it took about five minutes plus to load an app or file and usually that doesn’t take that long to do. I’m glad for the added speed and it is a very good upgrade from the Polaris since there are more things added such as Bookshare Download and having quieter keys. I will go into more detail with this and the BrailleNote Touch Plus since H. I. M. S. did have a webinar comparing this one with the BNTP except it was a bit unfair. To be honest, I did use products from this company for years but the BNTP has some things that are as good as the Braille Sense 6 and will talk about it in the review post.

Well, that completes this post. If you enjoyed these devices, I would say take a look by visiting different vendor websites. You can go to the company websites for Orbit Research, APH, H. I M. S., and Humanware but A. T. Guys, Emerald Coast, and ccc Vision Tech are also good places to check these devices out. And if you’re in Orlando at the end of this month, A. T. I. A. will be taking place and these companies do demo their devices in person. They even demonstrate at the American Council of the Blind and National Federation of the Blind conventions in case you can’t make it out to A. T. I. . What’s next? My Glam Bag for January! Stay tuned!

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