Blind Bargains

Free KeySoft 9.1 Released for the BrailleNote Apex

HumanWare has released version 9.1 of Keysoft for the BrailleNote Apex. It includes support for Word 2003 files, improved network connectivity, improved Email support, and a host of additional improvements. The update is free and does not use an SMA count. To read about the new features or download the update, check the link on this post. You can also listen to our podcast from ATIA 2011 on Keysoft 9.1.

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Category: Software
Displaying 7 comments.
mikesn Thursday, 10-Feb-2011 5:56 PM ET:

I am stunned to learn that HumanWare just added support for MS Word 2003 documents. Does the device also support MS Word 2007 documents, or must users wait for that enhancement? in 2005, I decided to substitute laptops and netbooks armed with JAWS for proprietary note taking technology. What I have learned about the latest enhancements to the top-of-the-line note taking device confirms for me the wisdom of that decision. Here is a question to other readers. Has anyone ever conducted a demographic study to determine which type of individuals are more likely to use mainstream solutions and which types of individuals tend to prefer Braille note takers (e.g. young v. old or the financially constrained v. the well-heeled)? I would love to see the results of such a study.

darknexus Friday, 11-Feb-2011 12:43 PM ET:

I don't have one ( I use mainstream solutions exclusively, though not jaws as I can't stand fs) but according to Humanware, there is no word 2007 support. They claimed they were going to add it in 9.1, but it just... didn't make it, somehow. I've never heard of any study done, but I've got some observations of my own from watching this type of thing closely. Those who get notetakers fall into one of three major categories from my observation: the newly blinded, Braille users, and the lazy. I realize this may be provocative, but I'll explain my reasoning. First, the newly blinded. These are the most simple to explain. They don't know what's out there and, at that point in their lives, they're not terribly interested in doing a lot of research. They then go to various agencies, and most agencies push the proprietary solutions quite forcefully. This is beginning to change as budget constraints are forced upon them, however. Second, the Braille users. This one I can understand. Like it or not, there's no all-in-one mainstream solution with built-in Braille. Why, exactly, none of these companies have thought of creating one yet is beyond me. I remember back in the early 90's, Pulsedata had a mainstream laptop running DOS with a Braille keyboard and Braille output, so it's not a new idea just an unpopular one. To get Braille on a mainstream solution, one needs to carry around two devices rather than one, and most portable Braille displays (with a few exceptions such as the Refreshabraille) are just as expensive as a notetaker in and of themselves. So why carry two devices around rather than one if you've got to pay the same price anyway? And, of course, it's not usually the individuals who pay for these things, but I think we already know that. The third category is self explanatory. They have what they want, they've used it for years, and they don't care about anything else, whether it's better or not. In my experience, category 2 (Braille users) are the most common. Just my observations based on people I know who use these things.

LouisBryant Friday, 11-Feb-2011 12:51 PM ET:

Nice post Darknexus, you hit it right on the nose. I own a PAC Mate Omni and recently quit using it over my Netbook with its Braille Display. For a while, I actually thought more blind people used these things, but now I see more and more proprietary devices being sold more so than mainstream ones, I'd do better developing new ideas for mainstream computers than porting VI solutions down to portable devices when hardly anyone uses them anyway.

yado Friday, 11-Feb-2011 8:38 PM ET:

To be honest, I prefer a notetaker over a laptop. I am a jaws user and I hate carrying a heavy laptop around with cables, braille display etc, etc. However, thanks to the fact that high end (in other words, worth while notetakers) are extremely expensive, I have no other option except of carrying my whole desk with me. (I use the refreshabraille braille display, for anyone who is interested) I can see the appeal of note takers, but they are just to expensive... and what is that? No word 2007 support. We are in 2011 people. Everyone uses office 2007/2010. Get with the program. FS has support for 2007 since for ever (around 3 years back) and the pac mate is obsolite. Frankly, a horrible upgrade for a super expensive machine. Let's see what Dean Blazie brings to the table this year.

darknexus Friday, 11-Feb-2011 8:47 PM ET:

darknexus Monday, 14-Feb-2011 11:22 AM ET:

@Yado: Have you thought about a small netbook? They're much more portable than a traditional laptop and most of them these days get battery life that puts the notetakers to shame. Mine (Asus 1005PE for those who're interested) gets 12 hours with moderately heavy usage and can hibernate and resume fast. I can go for a full day and a half if I use that (which is exactly what notetakers do when you power them off btw) without charging it, more if I don't put it through heavy usage. Add a case like the Targus Sport, and you've got a mainstream system with the portability of a notetaker.

darknexus Monday, 14-Feb-2011 11:25 AM ET:

@LewisBryant: Good luck porting anything to these devices anyway. Only one (the Braille+/Icon) even has an sdk, and it's the worst of the lot hardware wise. You won't be porting anything to the other notetakers, so I think you've got the right idea. Note I'm not counting the Pac Mate since both it, and Windows Mobile, are essentially dead.

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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.

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