Chat and demo of the Canute - 9 line by 40 cell Braille Reader - from a users perspective (transcript in show notes)
Canute Chat and demo.
D - Hi Eden, and welcome to the podcast to talk and demo the Canute.
E - Thanks David. The Canute is basically a 9 line by 40 cell Braille reader. It has very crisp Braille.
D - have you ever felt the Orbit Reader 20 Braille?
E - Yes.
This Braille is better.
D - How big is the actual unit? 9 lines of Braille sounds quite large.
E - a bit wider than a braille book, depth almost like a cassette player, and is an inch or so high. The Braille lines are spaced a bit further apart like on a Braille Page, but not too much, you can get used to it.
I was concerned about the refresh rate for the 9 lines which takes about 10 seconds, but am quite used to this now.
D - What are the controls on the unit?
E - so a bit of a description.
On the front of the unit, there are 3 buttons from left to right they are Back, Menu, and Forward with their associated labels on the top face of the unit in Braille.
On the right hand side, the power chord is wright next to the Power button (on the left), and if you are not careful, when you pick up the unit with the chord attached, you can bump the Power button.
The left hand side has an HDMI port to view content on a screen, head phone jack (not yet used), full sized SD card slot where you put your sD card with your books, above this is 2 USB ports for using UsB sticks (you still need the SD card if you want bookmarks), and a UsB B port (not yet functional).
On the top of the unit, on the top left hand side, is the Help context menu, and below this you have 9 buttons labelled 1 to 9 (shaped as a triangle)and then a 0 button (shaped as a square): these buttons are used for bookmarking, and in the menu.
When you turn the unit on, it can take up to 50 seconds for it to start up, at one stage, everything goes quiet, you think there is something wrong, and then the Braille page you have been working on appears.
It does not have any onboard translation, reading both BRF and PEF files.
Works with various Braille translation software produced files.
D - So does that mean you could download any BRF book, and have the unit read it?
E - Absolutely yes.
I got it mainly for Braille music. I was thinking about using it for general reading, but I’m concerned on how noisy the Braille display actually is, and annoying people around me.
Another point, it ways 6 to 7 pounds, so it is quite heavy. Then again, it feels extremely well made.
Besides the noise of the Braille displays, I’m still concerned about bumping the power button when I don’t mean to.
D - So what do you actually get in the Box besides the actual unit?
E - you get a power chord (although I got two as I think the other one is for Europe), you get a quick start page in Braille and in print. However, the full manual is online, and it is only 4 pages: it is a very simple device, it does what it is designed to do.
D - when you turn the unit on, how much help does the Help button give you?
E - the Help button is for contextual help depending on what you are doing, and is quite useful. I found I didn’t need to use it at all as the unit is so easy to use.
D - you mentioned the Menu button, besides accessing Bookmarks, what else can you do in the menu?
E - you can as you say go to bookmarks, the system menu, go to page number. Each Bookmark gives you a line of braille where that bookmark was set.
D - I’m assuming as since you can not edit, there is no auto cursoring buttons above each of the actual Braille cells?
E - No.
The unit is for reading only.
The developer has said they will be working with NVDA and Google to see if they can get some drivers developed, but I honestly don’t know how this would work out: I can’t imagine using the unit for fast navigation with a screen reader.
I think people need to except the unit for what it it is, a multi line Braille reader.
D - I’m assuming that when you are reading, your moving forward or back 9 lines (page)at a time?
E - Yes.
One thing I wish they could add would be for you to just go forward or back perhaps one line to get the rest of the line you were reading and didn’t fit within the 9 lines being displayed.
I’m still impressed by the refresh rate, quality of the Braille, build quality of the unit, and the fact there were no promises made beyond what the unit was designed to do: read a Braille file.
D - So let’s say your reading Harry Potter, can you move to the beginning of the book or skip through the book?
E - Yes.
You can jump to the beginning, but this is where Bookmarks become so important, as they are your navigation markers for the book.
D - Ok, do we want to do the crash test as it were and turn the unit on?
E - Yes.
When you first turn it on, it displays “please wait” on the first line, makes quite a bit of noise, clears then any previous displayed Braille, goes quiet as far as the display is concerned, and then finally shows the document in this case of what I was working on last. Takes up to 50 seconds, but I’ve found this time can very.
Now I’m on my document with very crisp Braille.
D - So if I was a new user, what would pressing the Help button give me?
E - it shows you in Braille contextual help of what you can do as as this point I’m in my document and it explains how to navigate.
If I press the Help button again, I return to my document being displayed on the unit with all lines being refreshed.
D - So how long does it take to change between the current 9 lines and the next 9 lines?
E - Let’s try it.
Takes about 9 or so seconds with each line making a noise as it pops up with the Braille.
D - So that clicking sound I was hearing was each line popping up?
E - Yes.
I find putting the unit on something soft tends to deaden the sound a bit.
D - Did it take a while not reaching for the panning button on a single line Braille display since you could read 9 lines?
E - No.
I’ve always disliked panning on single line Braille displays.
With my QBraille, I can use auto scroll, but sometimes you want to be reading at your own pace, this allows you to do that.
D - Is the unit battery operated?
E - Sadly no.
Having a battery inside would add more weight, and I don’t think it is the sort of thing you drop in your bag and flick out at a moments notice again due to size and weight.
I think we are a bit spoiled with all the portable solutions we currently have on the market.
D - What type of support have you gotten from where you purchased the unit with any issues you may have had?
E - I haven’t had any issues.
Usually when I get a new device, I can work out fairly quickly if anything is going wrong, this system has been excellent.
All of my questions were answered before I purchased the unit.
The only thing I wish the unit would have come with would have been some type of case.
D - Yes, that is a lot of Braille cells to keep clean.
When you have been reading your music Braille, how have you found reading on the 9 lines?
E - it has been very good.
I mess around playing the piano and harp.
I can actually use two lines to read the correct music notation on different lines which I couldn’t really do on a single line Braille display.
D - I was thinking about that USB B port you mentioned, I wonder if this is for connecting the unit to a PC so you can transfer files across.
E - It doesn’t work at the moment.
It could be used for that purpose.
This is very early days, and what it does, is very good.
Compared to the Orbit Reader 20 cells, this is an overall cheaper Braille display cels wise.
D - Yes agree. It isn’t that hard any way to stick files on a SD card or UsB stick and use them on the unit.
E - Yes.
You do need some basic computer skills to copy the files on to a Sd card or USB stick. However, you could always get someone else to put the files on to a Sd card etc for you.
D - So any final thoughts? Who is the Canute best for?
E - Good for:
musicians, maths, programmers, and reading/literacy.
D - So Eden, can you turn it off, I just want to hear what it does?
E - Yes.
Its now saying please wait, making a chunk chunk sound, and now I think it’s done.
I fond I have to wait for a minute or so to make sure its off.
Main hint is not to press the Power button again, as it’ll turn back on, and you’ll have to turn it off again.
D - Great. Thanks for the chat, I think we covered a fair bit.
If people wanted to get in contact with you, is Twitter the best?
E - Yes.
Twitter would be good.
It is a bit long, My Twitter address is:
D - Thanks for that, and thank you for coming on to the program.
E - you are welcome.