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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 June 2012 Issue  Volume 13  Number 6

Letters to the Editor

Digit-Eyes Product Representative Responds to AccessWorld Article

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

Thank you for publishing Janet Ingber's review of Digit-Eyes. We did an update very shortly after this review was written and there are some new features that are being very well received by the community:

  1. The product will now give nutrition information, ingredients, and preparation instructions, if these are available from the manufacturer. This [feature] is accessed from a button titled "More information" that is displayed if the information is available.
  2. The [price for the complete] Digit-Eyes [package] is now $19.99. … Individual components [cost:] recording / labeling function, $9.99; UPC function, $9.99; code 3-of-9 and code 128 support, $1.99 each.

Digit-Eyes also has a very useful feature none of the other products have:

You can print your own labels, place them on an object, and then record content on your phone that will be played back the next time you scan the code. This is very similar to the PenFriend except:

  1. The labels are [inexpensive and] available off-the-shelf
  2. There is no limit to the number of labels you can have
  3. There is no practical limit to the length of the recording (the average iPhone 4 can record about 16,000 hours of labels)

[On the website,] you can buy labels that can be washed, bleached, dried, and dry-cleaned. There is also now an option to use Digit-Eyes [with a laser scanner] if you already have one. We support both tethered scanners that hook up to a laptop and the bluetooth scanners that can talk to an iPhone, iPad or iPod. Simply go to the website, tap the input box and scan. You'll get the same depth of information. This option is free to use.

I would appreciate you letting AccessWorld readers know about these new product enhancements.

Cordially,

Nancy Miracle, Digit-Eyes Product Representative

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

I am a regular reader of AccessWorld and enjoy it every month. I especially find the in-depth reviews of various products and services very interesting.

Would there be a particular braille notetaker especially suited to a beginning braille reader or one that does not offer advanced features such as connecting to the Internet and e-mail if someone would just like a simple electronic note taking device?

Many thanks for your possible advice and suggestions,

Best wishes,

Claire

Lee Huffman, AccessWorld Editor-in-Chief, responds:

Dear Claire,

Thank you for reading AccessWorld.

The short answer is there is no device intended only for making notes in braille currently on the market. Of course, any of the popular devices can be used in this manner, but $6,000 is a lot to spend if one is not interested in any of the more advanced features. (It would be somewhat akin to buying an iPhone or other smart phone when all you ever want to do with it is call home once in a while.)

One option is to look on eBay or other lists where people with vision loss sell older technology and pick up an inexpensive note taker product. There are plenty of them still being bought and sold for a fraction of the cost of newer, more feature-rich products.

You may be interested to know that within the next few months, AFB will be launching a notetaker app for iOS devices. You could download this app and purchase a wireless braille display to use with it. The plan is to sell this app for a price low enough to place it within the reach of as many people as possible. Stay tuned to AccessWorld for upcoming information about the launch of the app. Best of luck to you.

Regards,

Lee Huffman, AccessWorld Editor-in-Chief

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

I just read Lacy Markel's article, The United States Association of Blind Athletes Shapes Lives through Sports and Recreation, from the April issue. It was great, and it should help us get off our collective butts and start moving. I go to the local Senior Center and workout on the treadmill quite often. For several years, when I lived in a bigger city, I would run the stairs in a tall building and participate in the annual Cystic Fibrosis stair race. The great thing about this is that you do not need sighted assistance to climb stairs and it is a great aerobic conditioner. There is also a lot of fun when you get a few people to come with you and participate in the race, and enjoy the refreshments after the run.

Regards,

Ted

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

As always, Deborah Kendrick has written another fine product evaluation in her May, 2012 article, Product Evaluation: PLEXTALK Pocket PTP1 DAISY Book Player and Digital Recorder from Shinano Kenshi. I have the Book Port Plus, which I feel is pretty much the same device as the PLEXTALK Pocket. One thing that's not so good in my opinion about these devices is that the text-to-speech voice (I believe it's the same as the one found on the Victor Stream) is really not so good. It could be a deal breaker if it were the only device for reading Web braille or Bookshare materials. How non-DAISY materials are stored, accessed, and managed has improved with revisions, but it's still a little strange. Battery life is just okay. I don't know if the same book transfer software comes with the PLEXTALK Pocket. It's quite helpful in the case of the Book Port Plus.

When we read a computer magazine or one that discusses electronic gear, what we read is all the wondrous things the devices can do…. Access World is good about pointing out the quirks and inconsistencies in products; I want to urge you to keep that perspective, exciting as products can be.

Thanks,

Mike

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