A new ultraportable braille display was the biggest news at the Hims booth during the recent Assistive Technology Industry Association conference in Orlando. Named the Smart Beetle for its connection options, it can simultaneously connect to up to 6 devices at once, 5 Bluetooth and one USB 2.0. Beetles have 6 legs, thus the use of the nature-inspired name.
The choice of 14 cells seemed deliberate, as the unit is targeted at professionals and students who want a compact braille display to pair with their mobile device. In this category, it compares favorably to the Focus 14 Blue and BraillePen, two devices which now seem a bit dated next to the Smart Beetle.
The claim of 24-hour continuous battery life also impressed, along with its 4-hour charge time and USB charging.
One feature that Hims Regional Manager Dave Wilkinson touted in an audio interview that will be posted soon is support for Bluetooth keyboard input. Essentially, the braille display can emulate a Bluetooth keyboard in lieu of traditional braille input provided by the screen reader in question, which could make up for cases where braille input support is lacking. It's possible to input modifier keys such as Control and Alt as well and perform most commands that one would execute on a normal QWERTY keyboard.
The construction was also solid, and I felt like the display lacked some of the fragility of other units in this class which felt like cheaper plastic.
With Hims drivers in just about every screen reader and mobile operating system, the Smart Beetle works with a laundry list of devices out of the gate. And at $1,295, it may be a display worth considering if you prefer a smaller form-factor and don't need 40 cells of braille in front of you.
We'll post the complete interview shortly, so stay tuned.Source: Hims
Sounds pretty cool. I'll be in the market hopefully sometime in March/April and I've been looking at the Sense U2 Mini (18 cells) and the smaller Vario Ultra from Baum, so it'll be interesting to see how this offering stacks up to those models. Thanks for the great report JJ! :D
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.