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Notetaker Comparison

Review by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP

On February 24th  ACB Radio’s technology show, Main Menu, launched a series of podcasts to provide an in depth comparison of five models of notetaker.  For those who have never seen one of these devices, the notetaker, often called a Braille notetaker, is a personal data assistant machine which first  appeared in the 1990s.  The original models had Braille keyboards and speech output, but other variants quickly appeared sporting qwerty-style keyboards and refreshable Braille output in addition to synthesized speech.

In a sense, the blindness-related assistive technology community was ahead of it’s time.  While basic “note taking” capability was a feature common to all of these notetakers, they also allowed all kinds of organization and management of personal data including contacts, calendars, document editing, printing and e-mail.

In general the feature set of any given notetaker is augmented every year or two and there are occasional jumps in technology, such as the switch to  an embedded version of Microsoft Windows as the dominant operating system.  We are poised on the brink of another one of these jumps, but for now, you can listen to 5 of the most popular notetakers being systematically compared in this excellent Main Menu piece.

In most of these segments, which run through mid-April, and are released every Friday, an experienced user of each notetaker demonstrates how particular tasks are accomplished with their chosen device.  The discussion can get technical at times, though this should not discourage someone with little notetaker experience from listening.  If you are thinking of purchasing one of these notetakers in the near future, these podcasts are an excellent resource.

Additionally, two of these notetakers, the Braillenote Apex and the Braille Sense OnHand can be found in the MDTAP equipment library, available for short-term loan. Contact MDTAP at 410-554-9230 if you’re interested in borrowing any of our devices.


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