Friday, March 31, 2006

Oh Yes.. Even More CSUN Notes!

The demo discs handed out contain Supernova 7.01. We have a 30 day trial up now and the new speech synth is an improvement. There's an automatic install now which means you don't have to go through all those install shields for each aspect of the program as in previous versions. Support for Pocket HAL and Windows Mobile 2005 is also said to be on this disc but I don't have any Mobile 05 units around here.. yet.

En-Vision America:
We saw the new ID Mate in it’s hand held Star Trek Phaser form. Okay it’s a lot bigger than a hand Phaser but it’s a lot smaller than the current box and wand approach to the old version. It’s still a little weighty for smaller hands but that’s where the head strap comes into play. That’s right the unit can be worn on the head for, as said to us, “hands free” tasks. Me I think I just found the last piece to my Borg Halloween outfit. No really let your mind wander on the thought of a few blind individuals wearing infa red bar code scanners on their heads as if they had on Mining Helmets. . . at eye level.

Vision Technologies Inc.
The VTI booth had the new Solitaire unit up and running. We recently passed on this unit because many felt that the refresh rate on the monitor was too low and the unit, as a result of that, tended to smear text. The *bob* of the unit when zooming or pulling out on text was very noticeable. And then, and this is a personal opinion of mine about most VTI products, the X/Y table feels like it’s made of Tupperware. Do I burp the table before I lock it down? Anyway here’s the specs for this unit.

A clarification to my earlier post about their booth. They did have an um new, pause for humor, flat panel option on the floor but the company as a whole still ships it’s current line with old school monitor options.

The new version of the Easy Link was there like I said before, however, one of the key pieces of info I wanted to pass along was that the Braille Voyager’s install shield has been changed. The first incarnation of the Voyager was a royal pain to install with JAWS 3x [the release at the time of launch] and a recently redesigned Voyager wasn’t any better in the install department. A talking install shield proved to be difficult to understand and our resident Braille expert muttered phrases that she could have only learned from a military officer. This install process is now thankfully gone and the drivers are said to be much easier to load. Still Supernova is the best support around for this device if your keen on the product. Oh and here’s the link to Easy Link by the way.

And here’s a quick funny story about the Clearview. We played with the one at the booth and noticed that it had a yellow tint to it in True, or normal, Color mode. While we talked to one Rep the second switched out the advanced feature pack. This didn’t fix the problem. In fact for most of the show the unit stayed in negative mode when we walked past the booth. I really like the design of that unit but when things on it go wrong.. they go very very wrong that’s for sure.

Ai Squared:
So it looks like I didn’t elaborate on the keyboard here at the Station. Remember that what I saw was a prototype for CSUN and it DOES NOT reflect the actual production unit.

The keyboard has 16 keys up at the top of the keyboard. They are not marked tactilely. So when you throw your hand up there you are not sure where you are in relation to what key you want. There are visual descriptors and different colors but there are no non visual properties to the keyboard shown at CSUN.

The keyboard, around $99 bucks, comes with a CD with the drivers for the unit. The keyboard it’s self is light and comfortable with a standard USB connector. I was told that you can’t remap the keys but you can disable the hotkey combo in Zoom Text so you can avoid a hotkey conflict with another program. Just push the xFont Enhancement button instead of Ctrl plus Shift plus F [which is the same command for fast forward in Windows Media Player by the way].

Low Vision International:
Here’s the website for the new hand held PVO unit introduced at CSUN.

You can also see the accessories for the Student there towards the bottom of the page. The new units shipping come with a separate control box for false colors and line markers.

Enhanced Vision:
Well the Merlin saw another change. First up the older Viewsonic monitors were dropped, then the new Samsung models appeared with the Merlin Plus allowing you to split the CCTV unit’s monitor for PC access and now the Merlin’s controls are attached to a plate directly under the LCD monitor it’s self. With previous Merlin units you could block access to the controls if you brought the monitor down low or down by the X/Y table to avoid the light from the camera base. Now you can access the same controls easier from the bottom of the monitor. And if your wondering .. the face of the camera base was flush with no duplicate controls. It’s just blank and that’s kind of weird.

The Acrobat now features a Laptop configuration/plate, a new smaller arm and a floor stand as new accessories for the unit. You can easily remove the camera head and reattach it to any of these new options for more flexibility instead of buying all new units for the same functionality.

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