Vision Technology International:
The company is replacing their line of units under the Solitaire label with newer models called “Pro”. The Pro line features a larger screen that can be fully lowered down to the X/Y table. The camera is a lot like the Select and the Pro series will feature Line Markers and Window features. The units should start shipping in the next few months, however, the unit I saw was brand new in the Prototype phase. So it could be midsummer before this one ships.
The company enters the Hand Held market with its new product called the “Junior”. The unit is kind of hard to describe. It has contours that allow your hands to grip the device. The screen is tilted up by design. Controls for zoom are on a dial while the modes are push buttons which are placed in places where you might rest your hands/fingers. The unit also sports a RCA jack for video output to any sized monitor. I will say this for it.. the design is unique that’s for sure.
Freedom Vision/Ash Technologies:
I finally got to see the Quick Look Zoom, or it might be called later the Quick Look Plus, and it is a nice hardware refresh. The first thing I noticed was that the unit was a third lighter than its older brother. The unit is now covered in a nice rubber coat which also has the added benefit of making the unit easier to grip as well. The same color modes exist and so do the contrast options. Where things have changed is up at the camera. On either side of the fold out camera you will find a really small button. One side of the camera has an enlargement button and the other naturally decreases the zoom. While I think this new addition is very welcome I also think those with Diabetes may have some trouble locating these buttons if they have severe or mild neuropathy.
The Trio is back and better than ever. This was my third look at the Braille Display and I like what they have done with this unit. It is lighter, the buttons are very well defined and it has a good feel overall. It can run on batteries, it has Bluetooth and built in memory. This one is on it’s way to manufacturing so keep an eye out if you are looking at new displays. The company also announced software for Braille Embossing on the Mac, however, I didn’t get a chance to learn about this product. Hopefully I will learn more next month.
Speaking of displays I had seen before.. I got another look at the ALVA BC and I still think this unit is rad. It too can run on a rechargeable battery, internal memory and it’s light enough to fit into a laptop bag. It can do Bluetooth and if you want you can configure Supernova or Window Eyes to run on the unit’s memory rather than installing it onto a PC. There is also that expantion pack for added features. The unit has been a bit redesigned since I saw it last. It feels even more sturdy than before but some may or may not like its weight for its size. And by size I mean it is small. Sliding this one into a laptop bag would be a synch.
This is going to sound crazy I know but one of my “Best In Show” candidates isn’t high tech. No I am not kidding read on gentle reader. The Juliet Pro could be called, like most Embossers, quite loud. You can place it inside that ATM looking enclosure but that wood and plastic bunker doesn’t really offer much in the way of sound proofing. Behold the new cabinet for the Juliet Pro. I am not kidding when I say that the sound that the embosser made was reduced by a level in the neighborhood of 60%. You can still hear it a little through the paper feed and the output slot but the team at Enabling say that they already have a solution for that too. The new cabinet was a hit I was told. Over 15 units alone were sold on the show floor during the Wednesday through Friday blocks. Check this one out if you have this embosser. You will be glad you did.
The Indiana based company wasn’t just all about their software division at CSUN this year. The new Voice Sense had its own coming out party. The unit is small, compact and fits in a pocket. Yes you have heard that before with the Humanware PK, however, this time you really can fit it in a shirt pocket and forget it is there. The Braille input felt solid, the wireless connectivity might make the unit wet with drool and battery life is going to rock. If you don’t have to have a Braille display on your PDA you might want to check this one out soon.
The redesigned Icon Dock was on the floor and it was popular. So popular that a particular ACB Radio Personality decided to pick one up during their time at the show. The new dock felt good and the materials themselves feel sturdy/well constructed. The Icon software has been updated since I saw it last at NFB in Dallas and you can hear some of the new features in the Main Menu presentation from a few weeks ago. This is one to watch for if you are looking for a PDA that is relatively inexpensive and is based solely in the open source movement/development.
Staying on the Open Source bandwagon.. I saw the latest build of Orca in Sun’s Solaris 11. I was blown away at how much this program has matured in the last 8 months. Orca will start being a common part of the kernel for Gnome and Solaris. And it will start seeing some development for Ubuntu and other leading versions of Linux. In the past Orca has been called slow. I think now those descriptions can be put to rest. With IBM behind it I think Orca has no where else to go but up.