can you tell me how much this unit cost?

On 8/6/2017 11:31 PM, Gordon Smith wrote:
Hello everybody

OK, this came as a pleasant surprise on Friday. I’ve been loaned an ElBraille to play with by a local school’s V.I department who want me to conduct training after the summer recess with some of their 11 to 18-year-old students, to teach them how to use the platform.

As I say, I received this on Friday and my initial impressions are that I have made a great choice when opting to buy one of these things at the time of Sight Village in the UK when the price was reduced by £220.00 as a promotion by the UK dealership of Freedom Scientific.

Anyway, to the point. I am finding that the JAWS command set is really very easy to memorise. Navigation using Braille commands isn’t something I’ve done much of until now under Windows. But I can’t believe how easily I’ve taken to it, and although I’ve only had the thing for 72 hours or so, it’s already seeming like such a natural and easy way to work.

Regarding the device itself, it’s just over 7-and-a-half inches long by 4 inches wide by 1.5 inches deep. The Focus 14 Blue fits snugly into the front of the device and, when it’s in its Eco-leather carry case, the device and Focus just looks like one solid unit. There’s absolutely nothing clunky about it at all.

The SD card and Micro-SIM cards are easy to access, as are the host USB 3.0 port, mini HDMI slot, 3.5MM headphones/line out and Mic/Line in sockets.

Somewhat disappointingly, although definitely not a show-stopper, is that the mini HDMI interface does not appear to carry audio, although I will check that just to be sure. That would have been quite nice. I own a monitor with internal speakers which would have been terrific as a second sound device. But as I say, it’ isn't the end of the world if not.

The stereo speakers on the front of the device have a very nice sound to them, given the size of the device – much better than I was expecting. The systemic sounds and the vibration motor employ a totally separate system speaker, so that nothing interferes with audio playback. Speech is easy to disable and enable with just one keystroke.

The boot sounds, beeps and vibrations can be configured via the ElBraille main menu. Which is great for me personally. I often find myself working in environments where beeps and buzzes would be intrusive. So having the option to disable those is a plus.

The device takes about 20 seconds or so to boot from cold back into the Windows interface, and there is constant Braille and audio feedback throughout. In fact, the whole system is totally accessible. It comes supplied with an SD card backup of the base level system so that, should you find yourself really stuck and have to reinstall from the ground up, then you have a totally accessible means of doing so.

The ElBraille Emergency menu is reassuringly easy to access, and it’s self-Brailled and self-voiced. You do need to be careful if JAWS is running when you access that menu, as you’ll get double speech in that event.

Regarding network support, the device has full support for 802.11/a/b/g/N/AC protocols, with dual band 4.2 and 5.0GHz support.

The Windows interface is in no way hacked or cut down. It’s just like a full-blown system. When I get mine, I plan to upgrade the OS by changing the product key, assuming that is possible, to give me access to all features of Windows 10 Professional. That said, I’m not sure that is actually necessary any longer, but I’m already enquiring about that.

Battery life is truly, truly excellent! I have the device connected directly to a Bluetooth® speaker, and also to WiFi. The manufacturer’s claims of 17 to 20 hours battery life, even under these conditions, are in no way exaggerated. Although I would obviously expect just a little less when connecting a USB 3.0 hard drive and high speed high capacity SanDisc SD media. But assuming that reduces life to approximately 15 hours, I could quite happily live with that as it’s way in excess of a normal working day.

One very small gripe is that the divide is not chargeable via USB. That said, there’s no need for a USB client port, so I guess that functionality would be superfluous.

Office support has been extremely well designed. The ElBraille menu incorporates options for all Office 2016 (Office 365), 2013 and 2010 applications. So it’s really a breeze to run your production tools and to access reading materials.

There is direct support for audio listening modes, and there’s no reason whatsoever why one cannot install recording software such as the very excellent Sound Forge Professional. JAWS and NVDA have very good support for that software anyway, although I would imagine that for really advanced editing such as multitrack projects, dedicated JAWS scripting would be required.

I have been asked whether NVDA runs on this device. My response at this time is, I don’t know. I am not fully convergent with the Braille command interface that NVDA supports. Since that support is screen-reader specific, I would need to make further enquiries regarding NVDA or, for that matter, any other screen-reader.

The same is true of Supernova and System Access, although I believe that both do have direct Braille command support. In which case, there should be no issues constraining their use.

I personally could totally understand it if NVDA were problematic. Since this device is developed specifically by Elita, which is now a member of the VFO group, it seems reasonable to me that they would not provide documented support for a rival software title. Although the flip side of that particular coin is that, were they to do so, the ElBraille might sell to those people who, either voluntarily or otherwise, do not use JAWS. But that’s a question to which I have no answers just at the moment.

I plan to install the very excellent Vipre Internet Security on to my own device when that arrives. Although it has been claimed that such measures are not necessary because of the simple recovery mechanisms within the device, I would counter that claim by suggesting that if one’s external data files were to become infected with malware of any kind, then all the recovery in the world of systemic RAM would be totally vacuous. As soon as you went to access those data files again, you would find yourself in the same situation, once again stricken with malware. Prevention is, in my view, better than cure.

Finally, for the moment,, although there is only one onboard USB interface, I own a couple of high-speed 10-port USB hubs. I also own USB sound hardware, including a digital mixer desk. I use this when broadcasting or preparing other audio materials. When my own device arrives, hopefully, later this week, I shall be putting the ElBraille through its paces with software such as my personal favourite broadcast software, “RadioBOSS”, and also I will try the latest incarnation of Station Playlist Creator Pro to see how well it performs. But I’m confident that it will work just fine. And the ElBraille could find its way into my broadcasting environment as well.

All in all, I’m very favourably impressed with what I’ve seen of the device so far. There’s an ElBraille 40 under development at the moment which, so I am told, is scheduled for release in the last quarter of 2017. So when that model hits the streets, if the price isn’t too steep, I may just invest. I see so many uses for that, and I already have the Braille displays.

I will be happy to answer questions if anybody has any. I’ll also let the group know when my own model comes, so that I can start experimenting more with other software.


My compliments and kindest regards
Gordon Smith:
< <>>
Accessibility & Information Technology Support Specialist..

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