2019-02-07 22:27:34

At the Assistive Technology Industry Association conference in Orlando, Florida, Humanware announced an upgrade to the BrailleNote Touch. The unit is called the BrailleNote Touch Plus, and it features an upgrade over it's older counterpart. It's available in 18 and 32-cell configurations.
They feature the Snapdragon 820 (APQ8096) paired with a Quad-core Kryo 2.2 GHz 64-bit CPU.
Memory is doubled from 2GB to 4GB, while internal storage also doubles to 64GB. The storage is now built-in to the unit as opposed to being on a removable memory card. The removable cards allowed users to move to a new unit if theirs was damaged by inserting the card, but Humanware says that a backup utility will be available. Other modern conveniences include Wi-Fi 802.11AC with both 2.4 and 5GHz support, Bluetooth 4.2, and USBC for charging. The size, weight, and battery appear to be largely unchanged.
On the software side, the Touch Plus will run Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, and be more likely to get updates to Android in the future because of the use of more mainstream parts. Android 8.1 also brings with it support for the Google Assistant, the Chrome web browser, and enhanced printing capabilities.
The units are available for order now, with the 32-cell version available for $5,695 and the 18-cell going for $4,195. These are both a slight $200 bump over the original touch.
Current Touch users can transplant their braille cells to a new model for $1,295. Users who recently purchased a BrailleNote Touch may be eligible to receive further discounts or a free upgrade.
https://www.blindbargains.com/bargains.php?m=19950
So, what are your thoughts?

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2019-02-07 22:38:54

I hope the polaris gets something similar.  I personally prefer himms to humanware.

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2019-02-07 23:45:40

Hi.
Well great, they the oportunity of giving this thing a real bump, but instead we get hardware from 4 years ago with the snapdragon 820CPU, only bluetooth 4.2 and a minimal storage capacity, not to forget a 2 year old android system when the unit gets shipped.

Personally, old technology for a to steap price.

Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-02-08 00:09:18

Com on Simba. Android Pi adoption is in the single digits, because Pixel is the exclusive flagship google phone, along with other android1 phones. Is that good? No. But a snapdragon820 is a very fast processor, it absolutely does not have to be the absolute latest and greatest. And also, not all Bluetooth audio devices are on 5.0 yet, nor will that happen anytime soon, till more widespread adoption of bluetooth 5 actually happens. Android Pi literally just came out four months ago by the way, and the Braillenote is likely to get updates more often now. Also, I can't stress enough that braille of this kind will never be cheap. Humanware said they would look into technologies exhibited in things like the orbit reader 20 once that technology actually stabilizes, but until then, they would rather stick to something tried and true for decades, also baring in mind that competition is almost nonexistent in the braille cell market because there really isn't even a braille cell market anyway. IT costs $80 to make and maintain each individual piezoelectric cell.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-08 01:08:56

What happens to the unfortunate folks who shelled out thousands of dollars for the previous Touch about two years ago? Will that be scrapped just like the Apex? Why didn't they do this in the first place?

Grab my Adventure at C: stages Right here.
You may access my NVDA Remote, Three-D Velocity, Sound RTS, and Road to Rage servers by using the address christopherw.me. Road to Rage uses the default 6789 port.

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2019-02-08 01:39:45

Chris.
1. Current Touch owners can get a cell transplant to the new upgraded unit for $1300. If their Touch was a more recent purchase, steeper discounts are available to the point where the upgrade may even be free. So $1300 is not a flat-rate unless you're an early adopter. And realize that a cell transplant basically means you're paying $1300 for what is not much different from a brand new unit, not a refurb.
2. The Braillenote Touch development started 5 years ago, which would be three years before its actual launch. At the time, the Texas Instruments Omap4 was a common chipset, used in phones such as the galaxy nexus. Well, midway through, the chip was abandoned and would not have the technical ability to receive further updates. Not only would it not make financial sense to scrap the project and start all over, but at the time, Android lolypop and Marshmallow did not have a stable enough accessibility framework to facilitate a speech and braille interface. Braille also had to be done a lot more from the ground up as brailleback was in its infancy. So it made sense for them to stay on Kitkat at the time, meanwhile using later accessibility elements from later versions of Android as a catalyst. By the time the Braillenote Touch had been highly successful for the focus groups and the Android accessibility framework itself improved significantly, it was time for an upgrade. You need to remember that chipmakers generally do not disclose information about prices of their latest chipsets as they are usually bought in bulk by OEM's. That being said, there have been rumors that each dragonboard board is roughly $45 or so.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-08 01:53:06

To be honest, I am super happy that this is getting upgraded. My big gripe with the Touch is that it lags a lot, and this should help a lot with the issues.

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2019-02-08 01:55:26

5,695 dollars mate, I could pay a masters degree somewhere with that amount of money.

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2019-02-08 02:09:35

Lol, no one seems to get that braille costs money to manufacture, huh? And let's not forget the multi-touch touchscreen used, and everything else. Royalties to various software venders, and the like. And then warranty repair costs. And then a tiny fraction of that is actually profit, the rest is merely breaking even.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-08 02:11:00

That does stink that they have to make the price higher just to even make a net profit.

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2019-02-08 02:35:18 (edited by jack 2019-02-09 16:52:53)

Make no mistake about it - the braille market is a tough market to dip your toes into. It's the reason so many new breakthroughs usually unfortunately fall through after their moment of glory, most of the time being the winner at a hackathon of some kind which gives them coverage by the mainstream media until the novelty wears off. Then there are just as many products that succeed but only years later.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-08 19:29:03

An ATIA 2019 interview done by Blind Bargains has been posted to their site regarding the BrailleNote Touch Plus. Listen here.
https://www.blindbargains.com/bargains.php?m=19958

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2019-02-10 02:10:35

It sucks that I'm not in high school anymore. It means I won't get to try it, and I really really really want to. That version of android is actually useful.

2019-02-10 07:53:29

I'm excited! I have an original touch, and I do need this upgrade, sorely. Mine is good, but it lags. Lots. And nothing works on it anymore.
Also, an upgrade by 4 version numbers? WHAT? Yes! I'm not a tech wiz, but I'm just excited that stuff will actually WORK and that my charger won't constantly break... old Android chargers were HORRIBLE! And built in printing? Yes!

Excelsior!

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2019-02-10 08:10:20

@13: You might want to consider your states department of rehab services. Each state is different in how generous they are in ordering college student's own technology, but most should have some sort of official instructions and/or a statement saying it can't happen.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-10 13:14:10

I'm currently with a polaris, and honestly, I barely use it. it's just, nothing works as you want it. android without a screen, or at least, with only keyboard as input method was a big mistake, HIMS.
with all that said, the touch doesn't excite me at all. Weight has remained the same. never liked touch braille, always preferred braille screen input. still no built in keyboard by the sounds of it, so you'll have to keep the thing in the case if you want physical keys. with that said, I should see if I can get any trade in through my college funding services, the touch can only be better than what the polaris is currently. oh, and just to install half of the apps I have, I couldn't use play store, my device claims to be incompatible, so having to use aptoide. big_smile
Also, Jack. Not to point fingers, but whatever one comes up with, you find a way to defend. yes, braille cells are expensive to reproduce. but if you've ever owned an apex or a u2, you will know that those braille cells get blown in a year's of heavy usage. compare that to an mPower, who's display moduals literally survive drops, why do we pay the same amount of money for less quality of cells? why was something even modified that used to work? I'd rather pay less given the quality isn't what it once was, anyway. I'm glad to hear they do the transfer of braille display, seem to remember that being done back in the mPower days, but it does leave you wonder. as for major android updates, I'll believe it when I see it. so far, no company has updated operating systems on their braille devices. HIMS also claimed it was possible to upgrade the polaris, but it never will be.

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2019-02-10 14:17:02 (edited by defender 2019-02-10 16:05:09)

Okay so I'm a bit confused.
You take the price of the display, add on 500 dollars for the tablet which is probably a bit generous, and then you add like a hundred bucks for the keyboard cover and 50 for the case.
Where is the other two thirds coming from. Is licensing really that expensive? Because I can't imagine it topping a couple hundred per unit at most.
I guess it's mainly development cost, paying the coders for their time making the custom software, and some of the custom parts like the braille keyboard and case are going to have a markup because they are such a tiny production run and have no use outside of this market.
You also need to pay the employees who service units and those who answer the phones (though I think they outsource that part now) I don't know their internal numbers, how much profit they make per unit, how many units they sell ETC. They don't have a full corner on the market, but their name is well known to schools and accessibility organizations.
I just don't know. But I feel like they might have expanded out of exclusive access tech if they were really rolling in dough. The fact that they haven't makes me think that their holding onto this niche they have for dear life and don't dare play in the mainstream.
Also, we used to pay similar for much worse hardware than this, so at least we're getting something a bit closer to our money's worth now..


On another note, I think it's very commendable that they offered discounts for those that bought the standard touch just before this came out, and that they are offering display only replacements. You'd never get that kind of consideration from a laptop manufacturer, at least not outside of an internal corporate supply chain.

This... -- Is CNN'.
Well Ted, it sure looks like there's been uh, quite a bit of violence around here
"aaoh, that violence was terrible'!"
Yeah it was, pretty bad.

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2019-02-10 15:24:01

To the person wonderin about "Braille Screen Input" on Android, worry no more!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta … k.keyboard

Unlike the "Soft Braille Keyboard" which was poppular back in the day, Advanced Braille Keyboard also works with "Bluetooth" and "USB" Keyboards" via OTG adapter. I got to say, I myself like it!
A lot of "customization" with it too!

2019-02-10 16:19:41 (edited by jack 2019-02-10 16:21:41)

$12 is incredibly steep without at least offering a trial. I have nothing against apps being over $10 if they have to, but if there's no trial then...well at least Google offers a safer refund policy than Apple does if it doesn't turn out to work well. If it's $12 with no trial I'm expecting an exact touch braille replica in that case, because touch braille impresses me (I use it regularly.)
As for the mPower's cells, I have a feeling this is a case of luck between units. My old mPower cells shows signs of aging when I had one. Didn't exactly break persay, but they definitely weren't what they used to be, in a very noticeable way. Surviving drops? My Touch has survived a few of those, accidentally of course, and they weren't outside the case, but it fell on the keyboard/braille side of the case.
They don't outsource their phone support, I've seen them continue to use the same staff they've had for years plus some new folks who do a good job as well.
As for the braille display costs, it's not just the manufacturing, it's also repair cost since that isn't gonna pay for itself, Acapela is a yearly contract cost for Humanware, of course on older units Eloquence was near constant royalties to Nuance. Duxbury, who is known for monopolistically expensive braille translation software, probably charges Humanware a sum still, due to the fact the Touch includes a duxbury sobmodule for contracted braille (libluis is not quite there yet.) Of course it kind of is now but it's rough around the edges, as exhibited by NVDA/Brailleback grade2 entry.  Again, I think it's the media and various competitions not providing nearly enough support that so many research efforts either go under, or stagnate. The media covers it for like one or two articles before, quote, the novelty wares off. I'm not sure how much funding people get for winning hackathons, but I should think if a product is determined to be such a cult hit that it can't pay for itself, then an outstanding winning effort should be awarded what is estimated to be enough funding to bring a product to launch. Or at least a significant boost up the ladder for an indiegogo campaign, or what have you. It's why the orbit reader had so much problems during launch, because of manufacturing costs with such a new technology. Why the rumor of the Graphiti being halted is around, because there is said to be not enough funding. It's the price of doing business...in an unfriendly braille market, with only like two singular constant cell-manufacturers.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-10 17:07:57

I do notice that the mPower dots do get weakened after a while, but they're not messy. my u2 had 3 moduals over 2 years of a warranty period. the 3rd modual is done as well, but I'm not spending almost £1500 on it just to get it fixed. my apex had faint dots after 6 months of having it, and it always did. had experience with 4 or so mPowers, each being battered by whoever had them at the time, never seen any display issues. maybe it's just me having bad experience with some of the newer displays, though. as for acapela and eloquence, I never quite understood why humanware's eloquence on windows CE was so horrible, always left it at KNG, which was even their own product, so was no additional charge.

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2019-02-10 18:30:59

Actually, Keynote Gold was not entirely their own product. They, PulseData now Humanware after the merge with Visu-aide, did the hardware and software implementation of what was formerly a speech module under Berkley Speech Technologies (did you know that that original module had a female voice as well, and spoke Japanese?) L and H owned the rights to it until getting acquired by Nuance, and something tells me they don't give two shits about Keynote.
As for Eloquence, Humanware stuck with the Eloquence used in early Jaws (4.0 to 4.2), and while I almost preferred the subtle difference in the speech pattern in that version, I could not stand the lag, so I always used Keynote because I liked the sound of it.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-10 18:33:26

As for your experience, I do kind of think it is a bit of bad luck. Manufacturing differences from country to country could also have a roll in that, plus the fact that, despite their claims of safe handling (even on priority shipping), most shipping companies treat packages like absolute shit. Ya think there's not enough padding in those delivery trucks? The effect on a braille display could be a kin to gently shaking an embosser up and down (don't try it, those pins are very sensitive.)

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2019-02-10 18:52:53

Yeah, I hope
I can get one from vocational rehabilitation. I was going to reqzst a Touch anyway, so it came at the right time.

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2019-02-10 19:52:59

Jack, I have a question for you. You keep using the term "Cell transplant." Does this mean they're using the same display I have now? Or are they going to just take my old device, scrap it for spare parts and give me the +? It seems more cost efficient to do that rather than change out the cells and transferring them to my new one.

Excelsior!

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2019-02-10 20:03:20

The duxberry license probably is pretty damn high yeah.
And yes at one point they did outsource to the Philippines, but that was like a decade ago when I had to call.
If repair costs are such a concern, there is a problem, either with the shipper they use or the manufacturer they use, not all shippers treat packages like crap, but you do need to pay a bit extra. Almost certainly  less than continuing repair costs though...

This... -- Is CNN'.
Well Ted, it sure looks like there's been uh, quite a bit of violence around here
"aaoh, that violence was terrible'!"
Yeah it was, pretty bad.

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