Re: Braille Display Questions


Aman Singer
 

Hi,

I will, if I may, answer each requirement separately and sum up at the end. I'm sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent, but I should say that it's nice to see such a clear set of expectations, it's good to be able to answer a properly posed question. You write:

1. Cost: It must cost less than $600, though that is at the high end of the spectrum.

New, this limits you to the Orbit and BrailleME. Used, this more or less, so far as I know the market, limits you to the Pacmate units and the older Alva BC series. If you're willing to take your time, you may get someone who will want to sell one of the other displays at the higher end of your range, but this isn't certain and you may end up with something with a defect in, for example, its dots or keys.


2. It must work with NVDA. If possible, I would like it to connect automatically.

I don't know of a display which doesn't work with NVDA. As to automatic detection, I think combining your first and second requirement limits you to the Orbit if you insist on new. I don't know whether the BrailleME will be automatically detected but, given that the driver is not in NVDA's core, I suspect it will not. The Alva will be automatically detected, the Pacmate will not.


3. It must work with Windows XP and 7.

To the best of my knowledge, everything does except, possibly, the BrailleMe. The Orbit support was added long before Windows XP support was dropped by NVDA. You'll have to speak to the BrailleMe's manufacturer to see if the unit will work with XP. Note, and I make this as a statement of fact, not as any sort of prompt for action, I firmly believe every person should choose his own technology to suit himself, that Windows XP support is hard to get and is becoming harder to get.


4. It must be able to display Grade 2 American braille (I do not use
UEB) and polytonic Greek (all three accents and two breathing marks).
Ideally, it would also be able to work with Latin, including various marks like macron.

This is a matter of software, not hardware. If NVDA is able to display these things, then you will have them on any display. If NVDA won't display them, you won't have them on any display working with NVDA. Note that the BrailleMe is a six-dot display, so may not be able to display these if they are eight-dot characters. Note also that it is somewhat unlikely, though not impossible, that the notes functionality of any display will be able to translate text imported into it into properly expressed Greek or Latin braille.


5. Ideally, it would be portable so that I can use it with my laptop. Otherwise, I will use it with my desktop. I have real serial ports on my desktop but not on my laptop. So if it is a portable model, it must connect via usb.

Portability is a function of the number of cells. If you want the display to be very portable, 20 cells would be better than 40. The 40 cell displays can be carried, but do take up more space, I would not carry one without a bag. I would not carry an 80 cell display at all. It is difficult, at this point, to get a serial braille display and, even if you did, USB to serial adapters have become cheap and usable.


6. I would prefer that it have cursor routing buttons, but that is not strictly necessary.

This is where the Orbit fails completely. It does not have cursor routing buttons.

Personally, I would go for an Orbit if I wanted a 20 cell display and wouldn't mind the lack of cursor routing and the loud refreshing. If I wanted more cells, cursor routing, or quiet operation, I would try for a Pacmate 40 or raise my budget. I wouldn't bother to buy the Pacmate notetaker unit (the notetaker and display are separate). The notetaker may access the internet but will be at least slow and have problems, particularly on the web.
I hope that's of use.
Aman

-----Original Message-----
From: main@TechTalk.groups.io [mailto:main@TechTalk.groups.io] On Behalf Of Eleni Vamvakari
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 2:08 PM
To: main@techtalk.groups.io
Subject: [TechTalk] Braille Display Questions

I have written several times about wanting to buy a tactile grapics display in order to help me read my Greek (Katharevousa) texts without dealing with ocr and so on, as these would simply translate whatever is on the screen onto the display without any kind of braille or text translation. Unfortunately, all of the ones which I found seem to still be in development. In the meantime, I am considering buying a braille display. But I don't know which one will meet my needs.
Therefore, I have listed my requirements below. Note that it can be new or old. I also don't care if it is a terminal display or a notetaker. Finally, note that I will still primarily be using speech in my daily activities. This is just to help me with reading Greek and Latin texts, with and studying spelling.

1. Cost: It must cost less than $600, though that is at the high end of the spectrum.
2. It must work with NVDA. If possible, I would like it to connect automatically.
3. It must work with Windows XP and 7.
4. It must be able to display Grade 2 American braille (I do not use
UEB) and polytonic Greek (all three accents and two breathing marks).
Ideally, it would also be able to work with Latin, including various marks like macron.
5. Ideally, it would be portable so that I can use it with my laptop.
Otherwise, I will use it with my desktop. I have real serial ports on my desktop but not on my laptop. So if it is a portable model, it must connect via usb.
6. I would prefer that it have cursor routing buttons, but that is not strictly necessary.

I have seen a PM20 display and a Pacmate Omni 420 at very good prices on Ebay. The former is strictly a braille display while the latter is a full notetaker. But the first actually costs more than the second!
Would there be any benefit in my buying a Pacmate? I know that it doesn't run a full version of Windows, so I can't install NVDA on it, nor can I use modern versions of Firefox or K-Meleon. But can I still access The Internet with it? Has anyone here used the Orbit 20 or the Braille Me? If so, how well did they work?

Thanks,
Eleni

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