[BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions
jackieannbrown62 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 3 14:42:16 BST 2017
I'm with you Sean, completely. I pause before executing commands, but am
getting better, slowly! Like you, I would like to see a little more RAM, a
larger SSD drive and perhaps another USB port, but I too love its
portability. I think it completely outstrips the dedicated note-taker
devices, it is so refreshing to still have Braille but be able to leave
those units behind.
Email: Jackieannbrown62 at gmail.com
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From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Sean Randall
Sent: 03 July 2017 12:40
To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
Subject: [BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions
As I'm sure you all know by now, Jackie did a fantastic presentation on the
ElBraille for BCAB members a few weeks ago. I'm showing a unit off to staff
and students at work this week, so just wanted to throw my thoughts into the
ring as well.
My first impression, on just holding the thing in my hands, was how small it
is. Obviously, it's a bit bigger than the actual Focus
14 display which is one of the components, but it's not an unwieldy machine.
In fact, with it in its carrying case and the shoulder strap attached I'm
perfectly happy wandering around our campus. Ordinarily I'd have a laptop
either under my arm or in a bag all its own, so that's a refreshing change.
I don't think I can quite express the joy of having a full Windows desktop
in something so small. It weighs under 800 grams and is under 8 inches wide
and yet I can run Office(Outlook, Word and Excel),, Dropbox and the web all
at the same time. It does slow up a little on the task changes, especially
when I've got gigantic web pages of tables open and workbooks full of graphs
and charts. My inbox, a web page and a notepad though? It's a dream.
I think the biggest problem people are going to have if they buy this thing
is the fact that other notetakers have done us a disservice. The ElBraille's
biggest selling point is surely that it's a proper Windows 10 based system,
and yet we've been using customised, blind-friendly Braille notetakers for
so long that we will quite possibly struggle to adapt to navigating a full
Windows interface with the efficiency we would like when there's no qwerty
keyboard in the mix. Those few of us who use a Braille display for input as
well as output will have no problems at all adapting to this system, but the
vast majority of people I work with are full keyboard users and that
presents a steep learning curve. It's not just learning about navigation
either, computer Braille, UEB and all this sort of thing comes into play. I
have still not managed to press alt+f4 without pausing for a little while to
think about what I'm going to press. I am sure, with use, I would do so -
and become as proficient as possible, but I can really see how hard it would
be for a qwerty user to move to this system at least initially.
That said, I think it's an excellent idea. My wish list for improvements or
other options would include More RAM, a bigger display, perhaps an extra USB
port. A smaller charger (to fit in the case), a bigger hard drive and
perhaps a redesign of ElNotes (although decent notetaking is a Windows
issue, not an ElBraille one).
The other slight annoyance for me is the lack of a lock; if I want to just
hop between rooms I'd like a single keypress to lock the keyboard rather
than a complex chord to learn. I can't seem to put the system to sleep
either, you either leave it on, sign out, or shut down.
I've so far used ElBraille to do some audio recording (with a decent USB
microphone), but it works well for VOIP with my wired Apple earbuds, aside
from general paperwork and reading. The portability and battery life are
superb. Today I've watched Netflix in a taxi using my phone as a hotspot,
minuted a meeting without using any speech, played an online game of cards
and read the newspaper. Just today, and the battery is still over 80%.
That's not counting the general emailing and web browsing between
So there you have it. An extraordinary amount to learn, but more in the JAWS
and total Braille display space than from ElBraille itself. A very nice
device to use, I think.
IT and Accessibility Specialist
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