The Tech Quadrant: Braille Sense 6 vs. Braille Note Touch Plus: WHich Notetaker is the Better One?

Hello to all of you beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast nerd universe! It’s time for a device battle!

Braille Sense 6 vs. the Braille Note Touch Plus: Which is the Better Notetaker?

So, it’s time to put the Braille Sense 6 and the BrailleNote Touch Plus up to each other and see how well they fare against each other. I have both of these devices and was able to use them over time, especially upgrading my Polaris to the 6 when I was offered it by the vendor I went through with a funding source I went through for my Braille Note Touch Plus. They are good note takers for the same price range, however there are features I would like to talk about between both devices that may work for some and may work for others if anyone wants to purchase one of these as their notetaker. Let me start with this!

Disclaimer

This post is based on thoughts, opinions, and experiences from the writer of this blog. She has used these devices and seen how they work and how fast they are, how well they type, and so much more. Please respect her thoughts!

Weight

First off, we’re starting with how much these devices weigh. One thing about these devices is well you can carry them place to place and weight can be a factor for what you choose.The Braille Sense 6 is 1.58 on its own while it’s 2.36 pounds with the case on.  The BrailleNote Touch Plus is 2 Pounds. Not by much when it comes to weight, the BrailleNote Touch Plus is three pounds lighter despite having the Android tablet underneath the Perkins keyboard, however I feel as though the BS6 kept the same weight from its Polaris and don’t feel much carrying it around to its Humanware counterpart despite not having the tablet built into it. If you would rather go without the tablet underneath, then the BS6 would be perfect since I had the Polaris before, going from one convention room to the next without the extra weight made it easier but if the tablet won’t hurt then go with the BNTP. I would say either one would be a great choice since both of them are almost the same weight and do have cases to protect them.

Keyboard

Both keyboards on both devices are in the Perkins Brailler style. H. I M. S. did have the QWERTY style with the QWERTY Plus and the U2 QWERTY which I admit I had the QWERTY Plus when I was at school and earlier press days with Nerd Shique Universe. The layouts are different from each other due to how they were built. The BNTP has the usual six keys for the Braille Cell, the Enter and Delete, and the Space Bar, then you have your cursor keys underneath. WHile the BS6 has your usual Brailler keys but have the F1, F2, F3, and F4 keys alongside an Alt key and a CTRL key to use on the Android platform. The learning curve for both is a little different if you have used devices from both companies like I’m doing now and have been doing for the past year due to how the shortcut structure is different. Yes, first letter navigation is available for both, except the chords are different when it comes to navigating to areas on both devices. One example is doing a copy on the BNTP is delete key with the letter Y. With the BS6 is the letter C with the Enter key. I would say if you’re familiar with a certain way of typing with one device then stick with the brand of devices you’re familiar with, unless you want to switch over for a newer experience depending on which layout seems to be easier. If you have any device demonstrated for you, ask for a demonstration of key commands on both devices.

Typing

With typing on either device, I found that each device can cause a bit of noise depending on your typing speed. I type fifty words per minute and can see how the noise on each device can be cumbersome. To me the BTNP’s keys are noisier than the BS6 since HIMS has been building their devices with keys that are softer while pressing them and have noticed it with the BS6 and the Q Braille as well. While the NNTP, on the other hand, the keys not only click pretty loudly but also have the clocks while inputting Braille. You can turn these clicks off pretty easily in the settings, except the keys themselves can be noisy no matter what you do. I think Humanware should have softer keys in the next notetaker if they decide to make another one in the next few years since HIMS has developed the BS6 but the BS6 has them beat in the typing department due to how quiet they are with input and having not too loud of a typing noise makes it easier, especially if listening to someone on a phone call. I give it to BS6.

Touch Features

One feature that made the Braille Sense Polaris and the BNTP comparable was being able to have the touch features. The BS Polaris had a touch strip in between the display and the cursor routing keys while the BNTP had a built-in touch screen underneath the keyboard. WHat made them unique was that you could touch Braille on the tablet under the BNTP as a quieter option while the BS Polaris only did touch gestures like if you used it as a tablet. Unfortunately, when the BS6 was created they took out the touch gesture ability due to lack of popularity, which there was no tutorial when Humanware does tutorials on how to do Touch Braille on their device. It would have been nice if the touch gestures were kept on the newer Braille Sense since the Android system is faster and the reaction time could have a better speed increase, which was an issue with the Polaris, which I will touch upon next. So, if you want the idea of doing the touch features then the BNTP would be the best device and it wins this category due to keeping the features or shall I say having them in the first place.

Speed

Both devices have pretty good speed when it comes to reaction time. When the Polaris was around, it had Lollipop as its system and it was very laggy and almost lethargic while using it, when the BS6 arrived I was happy that the reaction times were as fast as the BNTP when it comes to opening apps, being able to with saving files, and even downloading books from Bookshare. I have to say both get speed!

Android Systems

Both devices run on tw Both devices run on two different Android versions but they seem to work the same to me. The BNTP runs on Oreo or Android 8 while the BS6 runs on Android 10. Even though 10 is newer, Oreo still runs as smoothly despite how old it is. I did write to Humanware but not sure when will they update the Android version to a later version but hoping they could do it soon since we are already in Android 11 and if they want a leg up, they should either go to 11 or stay in competition may do 10 instead like HIMS has with the BS6. There is one drawback though is that there are times where either device can’t install certain apps due to the version they run, such as One Step Reader is the new version of KNFB Reader is not optimized for BNTP while the BS6 can due to how newer it is. I can’t fault the BNTP for this since I can still use KNFB Reader and it’s useful but would be nicer to have a newer Android version. Humanware, if you’re reading this, we need a newer Android version and now!

Apps

Speaking of apps, there are apps that each device does come with when you first receive them. The BNTP comes with KNFB Reader, which is normally $100 and Easy Reader + and of course your normal Google apps due to having the Android system. While the BS6 comes with Bookshare Download, a Podcasts app, Document Reader, Online DAISY, Google Search, Wiki Search, Assistant And your usual Google apps as well. Of course you can still download apps on Playstore but you have to see which ones are compatible with your device once you check them. One thing though is that not all apps can be available, one example is Kindle is not available for the BS6 but for the BNTP, which I find weird, while Audible is available for both. I do like the other apps you can read with on the BS6 but I do like the idea that I can still use Kindle on the BNTP but it’s not accessible there. It’s basically what you like to use on either device and how much you want to use the apps and install ones that can be used, either device is pretty powerful in this department and being able to stream anime, movies with audio description, and listening to music makes possibilities endless.

Bluetooth

Final category is bluetooth connectivity. One of the features of both is being able to use these devices as Braille Displays through bluetooth. You can connect to your computer with USB but what catches most users’ ears is the bluetooth capabilities. I admit I have trouble using the BNTP with devices besides my IPhone since it’s easier to connect with that. I even tried it with my ChromeBook and it couldn’t connect since laptops that run WIndows have an easier time with the Q Braille due to the bluetooth being easier to connect. The BS6, I have an easier time connecting with any device due to not having a code to pair with, which is the problem with the BNTP. It would be better if the BNTP didn’t require a code like the BS6 and other Braille displays because bluetooth has become more streamlined over the years and easy to pair with. I even had an easier time with my Apple devices since I can use my BNTP with those devices , even my Mac even though I have to unpair it due to using the Q Braille with it for the Function Keys. I have a Macbook with a Touch Bar, that’s why. I did try pairing the BS6 with the Chrome Book but it still has the BNTP with it, I have to try it out again at a later date. I do have to say the bluetooth on the BS6 is easier with other devices that have good bluetooth connections. I think the BS6 wins this category due to how much easier it is to connect even with a computer.

Winner: It’s a Tie!

It’s hard to say who wins what despite how they advance each other in some of the categories but both devices are still powerful for what they are. Not all devices are created equal and after using them both, they are equal in speed, the BS6 has a quieter keyboard over the BNTP, the BNTP still has touch features and I do love the idea of the tablet size for Touch Braille which you need a big screen for that, and of course you have a learning curb in using the keyboard shortcut structure which I’m still learning with the BNTP myself after using Braille Sense devices over the years. 

What Should I Get If IAm New to Note Takers?

My advice is to look at both! It doesn’t hurt to go to demonstrations or have someone come to you and demo both devices to show off their features. One thing I could also suggest is ask around before choosing, as in see who has gotten either device and prefer which one over the other since they do work differently. Also, look into Assistive Technology groups that may have members that use the devices as well since they may have different ideas of the both of them from what I brought here. And, of course, think about the features you think you would use more whether it’s at school or work since these devices could be used in either environment, if you can’t pick one, there are lower cost options to think about that work equally as well, especially in the bluetooth department.

That completes this post! If you have either device, drop a comment below or if you’re wanting either one, drop down a comment, I would like to hear what you all think on either side! Next will be my Ipsy bags!