[BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions

Matthew Horspool mhorspool at live.co.uk
Tue Jul 25 16:31:45 BST 2017


Hi Tony and all,
The single biggest appeal of a dedicated braille device, for me, is that there is no intervention between braille input and braille output - WYBIWYG, if you like. In other words, I can make as much of a mess of my braille as I like and the braille display will reproduce it faithfully. From a note taking point of view, this is absolutely invaluable.
Say, for instance, I want to type the word theatre, but for some reason I want a TH sign, EA sign, T R E (maybe I'm doing a presentation on phonics or something). Indeed, I might want to write down the contrast - TH,EA,TRE, not THE,A,TRE. A dedicated braille device will cope with this no problem. Something like El Braille, however, doesn't store my braille contractions, at least not out of the box: it back translates my input, and then forward translates it back onto the braille display. The result is that it will convert my very useful TH,EA,TRE into THE,A,TRE. This is not what I want in my notes!
I am sure there are workarounds for this particular scenario (set braille input and output to US computer braille, for instance), but why should a notetaker need a workaround to be a notetaker?
There are other output problems along similar lines - I don't know how gracefully things like El Braille handle italics input, but a braille display connected to a computer certainly doesn't handle italics output very neatly, which makes it rather difficult to emphasise things in my notes.
Hardware (and indeed software) obsolescence is certainly not an invalid point to make, but I think we fixate on it rather too much, to the point where we put it above the purpose of the device. My notetaker is not my computer - if I want a computer I will use my laptop with a QWERTY keyboard. I have never got the hand of browsing the web using braille input and I'm not about to start now. Rather, my notetaker is my pen and paper. For the express purpose of writing and reading braille notes, a BrailleNote Apex with its frankly ancient processor, running grossly outdated Windows CE, is more than adequate. I'm certainly not going to trade it up to a BrailleNote touch simply because it has better hardware and better software because I don't need what that better hardware and software can offer me.
Actually, I would still be using my beloved BrailleNote mPower if it wasn't for the fact that it would have cost a fortune to repair and I had to weigh that up against the cost of a second-hand Apex.
When my BrailleNote Apex finally bites the dust (and I don't imagine this will be for at least another five years), something like a Baum Vario Ultra would be a better fit for me than an El Braille for straightforward note taking.
Matthew

-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Tony Fox
Sent: 25 July 2017 14:23
To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
Subject: Re: [BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions

Hi Everyone

The Elbraille product looks to be a winner. I am interested in the view of braillists on here if there is still a place for dedicated adapted products such as BrailleNote Touch and Braillesense. I know the frustration  when you  buy a dedicated device and find the hardware quickly becomes outdated

It would seem the Elbraille is a good investment as you won't get left behind when windows upgrades become available and the braille display is detachable and  not built into the hardware of the product

Tony


Best Regards


Tony Fox

*Mobile    0747  966 2341*
*Landline 01727 752742*
*tonyfox1 at gmail.com <tonyfox1 at gmail.com> * *https://www.linkedin.com/in/tony-fox-96140915/
<https://www.linkedin.com/in/tony-fox-96140915/>*







On 25 July 2017 at 14:03, Terry Clasper <terry.clasper at btinternet.com>
wrote:

> And Denis what ever happened to good old tech support from the supplier?
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of dennis 
> huckle
> Sent: 25 July 2017 14:01
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List' <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions
>
> What you get in the box is a braille document listing most jaws commands.
> However if any more help is needed You will get it on this list.
> They take a little getting used to, especially the modifier key 
> commands, but once you get the idea its not too bad.
> Kind regards,
> Dennis huckle.
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of 
> Michael Cassidy via Bcab
> Sent: 25 July 2017 13:51
> To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
> Cc: Michael Cassidy <mike.cassidy at ntlworld.com>
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions
>
> Hi Dennis,
>
> I like the thought of a small compact device, and I think the price of 
> the 40-cell unit rules it out; I think I’ll be able to adapt to the 
> 14-cell display without difficulty. Just the matter of getting used to 
> the Jaws command set.
>
> Thanks for your thoughts; always helpful.
>
> Regards,
>
> Mike
> > On 25 Jul 2017, at 11:42, dennis huckle <muir1918 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Mike, I agree about the 40 cell version of el braille, I feel sure 
> > that
> it will, of course be more expensive but by the nature of the larger 
> braille display will be larger in itself.
> > Using the device as I now do I find it easy and don't find the 14 
> > cell
> display a problem having used an 80 cell on my pc at home.
> > Also, don't forget you can configer your 14 display to work with a 
> > smart
> 'phone that is another plus as far as I am concerned. You don't have 
> to remove the display to achieve this.
> > Also remember you can purchase this over a 12 month period.
> > Good luck,  I hope you will find something to suit your needs, Kind 
> > regards, Dennis huckle.
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of 
> > Michael Cassidy via Bcab
> > Sent: 25 July 2017 11:18
> > To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
> > Cc: Michael Cassidy <mike.cassidy at ntlworld.com>
> > Subject: Re: [BCAB] ElBraille First Impressions
> >
> > Hi Sean,
> >
> > I’ve been reviewing these emails as I’m thinking of purchasing one 
> > of
> these. I see from Jonathan’s podcast that a 40-cell version is in the 
> offing, but I haven’t seen the price tag! My blind-friendly notetakers 
> are getting old and rather worn, and the cost of repair as against a 
> new purchase have to be considered. I’ll have to be quick to decide as 
> the offer closes on Friday.
> >
> > Mike
> >> On 3 Jul 2017, at 12:40, Sean Randall <contact at seanrandall.me> wrote:
> >>
> >> Hi Folks
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> 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 activities.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> S.
> >>
> >> __
> >>
> >> Sean Randall
> >>
> >> IT and Accessibility Specialist
> >>
> >> <mailto:Email%20Contact at SeanRandall.me> Email 
> >> Contact at SeanRandall.me
> >>
> >> <tel:00441905692280> Phone +44 (0) 1905 692280
> >>
> >> Or visit  <http://uk.linkedin.com/in/accessiblesean> My LinkedIn 
> >> Profile for my blog posts, areas of interest and qualifications at 
> >> http://UK.LinkedIn.com/in/AccessibleSean
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
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