Saturday, December 10, 2011

A portable digital magnifier for all-purpose reading?

I have been trying to find in Forums on how people with low vision can do extended hours of reading. Kindle for the time being gives me access to only editions sold by Amazon. I still miss on a lot of books and especially books where the typeface is fixed.

Some people suggested desktop magnifiers which range between $2500-$4500. But I thought that surely there must be something better out there than bulky devices like MyReader2

I also came across Intel Reader, which is a portable scanner/reader and comes at half the price of a desktop magnifier (Amazon lists the product at $845. But you can contact Intel GE Care Innovations to check for any ongoing discount). Doesn't fit in the pocket but you can carry it in your bag to to school,  libraries, supermarket (weight: 630gm). Just like desktop magnifiers it works on OCR technology but you do not need to put the print material under a scanner. You just point & shoot to capture the printed text (e.g., a book page, a newspaper article, a restaurant menu...) which gets converted to digital text. You can view this text in large font size, customisable foreground, background colours. Or you can choose to listen to the text using text-to-speech feature. The files can also be stored in mp3, DAISY,wav file format. Yes, it is compatible with DAISY. You can connect it to your Windows or MAC to download files.

I like the concept but it seems still too bulky. And the screen is too small for reading. 

Update - Intel GE Care Innovations has also released Achieve tablet which is similar to Intel Reader in terms of features but lighter, with wider LCD tablet like display (do not search at Amazon, it will  most likely give you vitamin supplements as search result :P).

  • 7 inch display with high contrast themes
  • Dual-core 1 GHz ARM Cortex* A-9 processor
  • Android* Honeycomb* 3.2 Operating system
  • 5.0-megapixel camera to support photo capture of:
o   8.5 X 11 page 
support for two pages but can’t exceed 8.5” x 11”
o   150 lines per page
o   8-point, 350-dpi font
  • File creation (DAISY, MP3, .txt, .jpg)
  • Import or capture and read and/or listen
  • High-quality natural speaking voices (Only English UK and US)
  • Gesture-based navigation
  • Achieve Software for Windows* or Mac*
  • Supports DAISY 2, 2.02, and 3; NIMAS 1:1; .txt; Learning Ally Audiobooks; and Bookshare digital books. 

Price is not available but this site lists it for around $700.

Achieve Tablet is a good solution for students who need to read a lot of print material. I would have liked if it could support MOBI, ePUB and PDF formats and serve as an all-purpose reader solution. 

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