It seems that many Video Magnifier venders have released new versions of older units just in time for that "Back to School" crowd to return to the hallowed halls of institutional learning. And some of these hardware refreshes sport some compelling new features. Let us take a small tour of three of these units which are now available and shipping across the globe. Remember that it is always best to "try before you buy" and I am not saying that any of the units below are better than the others out there on the market today. Beauty is always in the low vision eye of the beholder!
Quick Look Zoom by Ash Technologies
[Picture above shows a Quick Look Zoom magnifying a newspaper]
The Quick Look Zoom replaces the older Quick Look unit that has been in loyal service for almost three years. The older Quick Look model was widely known for it's clarity of image. The Zoom has that famous picture quality and a whole lot more. The Zoom has a freeze frame, contrast/brightness adjustment control and as the name implies the ability to have multiple levels of magnification. Hence the "Zoom" in the title. If that wasn't enough the Zoom also weighs half as much as the original unit. The manual states that the built in battery will last up to three hours on a charge which puts the Zoom right in the middle of battery life for similar 4 inch Video Magnifiers. Depending on your retailer you can find the Quick Look Zoom in the ball park of $795.
Sense View by G.W. Micro
[Picture above shows a turned off Sense View unit]
This little powerhouse came onto the scene in a big way back during CSUN 2006. If you have been a long time reader of this blog you will remember that I put this in my "Best of Show" picks. Well since that time the gang at Himes and G.W. Micro have improved upon the unit and now it has one or two more aspects you might want to check out. The Sense View is now brighter. Some out there have said that the original unit was small, easy to hold but just a little too dim for those who have eye conditions that cause them to crave bright and shiny displays on their Video Magnifiers. The newer models of the Sense View are truly brighter and some say that the false colors even look sharper as a result of the increased contrast. Also, this is an after market thing, there is a better case for the Sense View available that has a belt clip. This is just an opinion but to me the pack in case is a little lacking in places where this other custom case exceeds in style and comfort. The battery life of the Sense View tops in the four hours plus range and the price also fits in with others at $825.
Compact+ by Optelec
[Picture above shows a Compact+ in a white text on a blue background false color mode]
Perhaps the one new unit that has the least in common with it's prior model is the Compact+. The new Compact has multiple false color filtering modes, a freeze frame option and a removable battery that will use regular store bought batteries if you run out of power in class. The unit comes with a rechargeable three hour battery, however, being able to use both types of batteries in a unit with a small screen is a very rare feature indeed. The older Compact used a lever that moved back and forth to focus the camera's lens. The Compact+ has a dial control that lets you choose from three levels of digital zoom making it a lot easier to adjust the size of print when reading pages on the fly. The real odd feature of the Compact+ would have to be it's small arm that extends outward from the unit. This arm acts as a handle of sorts which some may find easier to navigate a page with rather than holding a traditional boxier sized unit. It's not for everybody and my words can't do it justice. So seek this one out and see it for yourself if you are interested. The Compact+ can go for as low as $695 with some venders.