Re: Note taker with JF W
I share your frustration that the PAC Mate stopped being updated in
2009. FS claims it is Microsoft that is responsible for this
obsolescence, since for a long time mobile versions of the Windows
operating system became inaccessible to blind people.
FS does have a next generation, Braille-enabled, portable device
coming out, and I handled a prototype of this at the 2016 National
Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. It's called the
The American Foundation for the Blind has a review of this device. In
summary, AFB describes ElBraille as follows: "Elbraile is a full
mobile portable computer running on Windows 10 together with Jaws for
Windows. It contains a docking station, integrated with Freedom
Scientific's Focus 14 Braille display. This docking station contains
the perkins style keyboard and all the navigation options that you
find on the Focus 14."
https://www.afb.org/prodProfile.asp?ProdID=1951 Personally, I prefer a
longer Braille display.
But if your need is for something that will run Windows 10 and that is
flexible enough for you to install third-party software applications
customized to your needs, then the ElBraille might be for you. As I
understand it, this has not been released to the public yet, but it is
due in October.
On the other hand, if you don't need something that runs Windows 10
or JFW precisely, Marianne is correct in pointing out that the BrailleNote
Touch might work fabulously well for what you want. I also handled
this device, which is available right now from HumanWare. It does not
run JAWS--note that HumanWare and Freedom Scientific's parent company
VFO still are competitors, at least for now--but the BrailleNote Touch
is sweet, and it's probably what I would get today if I were in the
market for a new portable device. The Touch is a fully-functioning,
blind-friendly Android tablet with a 32-cell Braille display. Unlike
some other devices, it is designed specifically to give us access to
Google Docs, Google Books, and Google office applications such as the
spreadsheet program Google Sheets. And, for a limited time only,
HumanWare points out you can trade in your PAC Mate or other older
notetaker device and get a discount off the stated purchase price of a
BrailleNote Touch. Don't get me wrong--this is still quite expensive
out of the box. But I was quite impressed when I played with this.
Another option is the NeoBraille notetaker, offered by Irie-AT:
https://irie-at.com/content/neobraille-notetaker. I did not play with
that one, but it too uses Android technology and seems to have some
up-to-date, useful features.
If all you want is a Braille display with some smart capabilities such
as storage of what you have typed, then you might look into the
Braille Edge from HIMS Inc.
https://hims-inc.com/products/braille-edge-40/, or the various
editions of HumanWare Brailliant
the new Baum VarioUltra Smart line of displays
. I know that in the case of the line from Baum USA, these can in
some cases be paired via Bluetooth with five different devices at the
same time; so you can seamlessly switch the source of your input from
your computer to your smartphone to your tablet, etc., without having
to keep unpairing and re-pairing your display among each of these
several input devices.
Probably too much to think about here, but just want to make sure you
understand the variety of options out there. They are legion. Of
course, the funds to pay for them remain a challenge.