Friday, November 25, 2005

On A Clearview Day You Can See Forever

The term “early adopter” has been coming up more and more in the AT business lately. Both software and hardware have that ability in the real world as well, however, most Blind users of technology don’t buy enough electronic doo dads to know this to be a tech thing more than a Blind tech thing.

Times have changed dramaticly over the last few years. Some may remember the first iteration of the Pac Mate. Others will remember the 8 patches that ran Zoom Text through the 7.0x era. Rarely does this little trend effect the CCTV side of the cube.

In the last two years Optelec has tried to change things up. Their original attempt at a Flat Panel display unit resulted in the aptly named Optelec Flex. Legal issues had them change it to the Flexible Flat but that wasn’t the only trouble associated with the line of units.

The thing came in three boxes and better yet it had it’s own set of tools for assembly. You could sometimes count on two hours of your life being used to get this monster up and running. Despite all of this the unit still had what people wanted namely the Tray Controls and the Red Reading Light Indicator. You just had to go around Robin Hood’s barn to get there. For a detailed list of steps check out Access World’s article on the unit in question.

So like any good company the brains of the tech R&D division found ways to avoid the problems of the Flex. And by doing so they created all news ones in the process. See the new line of Clearview units is modular. Ikea like modular. Now on the front of this prospect this is a great idea. You can keep inventory low by making the base X/Y tables and just make the camera types you need on demand. Then add the ability to make a Black and White unit into a Color PC Ready unit through hardware upgrade feature packs. Again great on paper. The result is sadly not as cool as the idea.

We have seen three units perform badly. We have noticed that if the camera is hot then your unit is not long for this world. And better yet there was an instance where we hit a button that was meant to switch it from PC Split to normal CCTV and the unit shut the monitor completely off. Neat eh? Well it really stinks when you aren’t connected to a PC to begin with let me tell you.

Optelec is aware of some issues with the first generation of these new units and there has been a warning sent out to Dealers. If you know anyone who has a new Clearview and they are noticing problems notify your Dealer post haste. Especially the power/overheating camera. That’s a nasty one.

The changes on these units have already been addressed so hopefully newer units shipped won’t have these issues. Or we hope that’s the case. On Monday I have to trouble shoot a new Clearview PC unit that just stopped it’s switching to the PC for some reason. New off the truck and installed by Optelec themselves no less. Looks like I will update you all on that later.

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