There are so many choices in the Braille display community. I'm just curious for my own sake what you look for in a Braille display. If you could craft the perfect device for yourself, what features would you or would you not include? I ask this after reading many things about different models, and seeing how certain series offer different features than others.
I, myself, only use Braille displays as a peripheral with light notetaking capabilities. If the device can connect to Bluetooth devices and function as a display and do it well, you have my attention. If this device can do basic notetaking operations, such as reading and writing MS Word documents (.doc, .docx, RTF, etc), then we're in business. Where I think I lose interest is in units that utilize OS's based off of Android. Furthermore, I'd rather send emails, listen to music, and browse the web on my phone or tablet versus on my Braille device. As previously stated, I'm more of a "use Braille as a monitor" type of guy. Why would I go to a buffet if I'm just looking for one plate of food? There is nothing wrong at all with Braille displays integrated with Android OS, it's just not suitable for my taste.
So what unit do I own, then? Baum USA's VarioUltra 40 was the closest thing I could've gotten to my preferred hardware and capabilities in a Braille device. The keyboard layout was appealing to me, the form factor is slim and light, and it can pair up to four Bluetooth devices and one USB device. The drawbacks? Not being able to save in .doc or .docx file types. I know I said above being able to read and write in those file types would be ideal for my perfect unit, but the other qualities outweighed the drawbacks for me, so I decided to pull the strings and go for this display.
I went through a series of devices over the past 15 years. First up was the original Braillenote from HumanWare. I don't remember enough about it to give a great analysis and opinion, but I do know from memory it got the job done. Next up was a PacMate from Freedom Scientific. Can anyone say junk? Nothing but problems and issues from day 1. I was not impressed, but the school district had purchased it at the time and I had no other choice. Then I went to the Braillenote Apex from HumanWare. Is it me, or did the Apex (and the Braillenote series in general) become the golden standard for students enrolled in K-12 schools? Everyone I knew in school had a Braillenote Apex. I guess it was the hottest display of the decade, and no other display became popular enough to compete with the Apex. That isn't to say the unit wasn't good, in fact, it was great for what it was meant for -- notetaking and everyday tasks. What deterred me from keeping mine was the horrid cleaning services HumanWare provided. The dots became worn and weak after 9 months of usage. Granted, I was irresponsible and didn't clean it myself, but I almost would 100% expect it to be returned to full firmness. Instead, it was returned in much the same condition I sent it in.
Now I'm working on the Ultra. Outside of a shorter battery life and the inability to write .doc files, it's the perfect unit.
So, where do you all fall in the spectrum? I'm interested to know what tastes are out there, especially since this day in age Braille isn't as ubiquitous as it used to be. What do you look for in OS, what tasks it can do, form factor, keyboard style, how many cells, etc?
Come listen to the Heinz Chapel Choir's excellent performance of Kyrie!