The Enhanced Vision Merlin has been updated in 2008 with a more sleek and streamlined appearance. The Merlin continues to be one of the easiest video magnification systems to use with only three controls on the front panel, just below the monitor. The Merlin has an on-off button on the very right, a large circular dial to change the magnification, and a third button on the left side which changes the colors of the background and text. The Merlin continues to have a brightness control lever on the underside of the control panel. This lever allows users to alter the brightness of the image, a most helpful feature when reading faded print, handwriting written in pencil, or text printed on glossy paper.
In 2008, the Merlin is available in a 17-inch, 19-inch, and a 22-inch wide screen LCD flat panel monitors, priced at $2595, $2795, and $2995 respectively. The monitors of the Merlin adjust up and down, swivel from right to left, and tilt forward and backwards. The multiple adjustments of the monitor allow users to reduce reflected glare from overhead lights and windows. The LCD monitors display very sharp and clear images with excellent color and contrast. The auto-focus color camera focuses very accurately and quickly and also displays the widest field of view.
The Merlin has a very large X-Y table that will allow users to place large books or handouts under the camera. The table has a manual locking device that allows users to easily lock the table, preventing it from sliding from side to side when writing or working on projects under the Merlin. The X-Y table slides very smoothly in all directions, making reading rows and columns of text very smooth.
The Merlin comes with some features that are optional on other video magnifiers. First, it comes with color select, which allows users to alter the colors of the background and the text. Secondly, the Merlin comes standard with a computer connectivity package, allowing users to connect their computer to the Merlin. With the press of a foot pedal, users can switch from having their reading materials displayed on the screen or having their computer displayed on the screen. This feature is very helpful when reading and inputting data into the computer. The Merlin also has an optional feature that will allow users to see both the computer and the magnified reading material simultaneously with a split screen for $250.
We found the Merlin to be a very well built video magnifier with very easy to use controls. The Merlin produced very clear magnified images of all text, newspapers, and photographs we placed under the camera. The brightness control lever was extremely helpful and the wide field of view allowed us to see a larger region of text compared to other video magnifiers. We wish the Merlin had a friction control on the X-Y table to prevent the table from sliding too quickly when reading. We also wish the Merlin had a focus lock that would help students or craftsmen who perform a lot of reading or repair work under the Merlin. Overall, the Merlin is a very easy to use video magnifier and is an excellent value with its many standard features.
Freedom Scientific Topaz
The Topaz desktop video magnifier has been improved significantly since it was first introduced in 2005 and is now one of the most features packed video magnifiers available. The Topaz is available with a 17-inch, 19-inch, or 22-inch color monitor priced at $2695, $2995, and $3495 respectively. The monitor adjusts up and down and tilts forward and backwards to provide comfortable viewing for users without reflected glare from room lights or windows. The sharpness and color displayed on the Topaz are excellent. The auto-focus color camera of the Topaz focuses very quickly and accurately. The colors of the images on the Topaz are very vivid and the Topaz performs extremely well when reading print typed on glossy paper.
The controls of the Topaz are very easy to access and easy to manipulate. The Topaz has five controls. On the very right is the on-off button. Just to the left is a color mode button that changes the colors of the background and text. In the middle is a large dial that changes the magnification. On the left side of the control panel are a brightness control knob and a focus lock button that locks the camera, a very helpful feature for those who will use the Topaz to write, draw, or repair objects.
The X-Y table of the Topaz has a manual lock and adjustable friction controls. This is a very helpful feature when reading and writing. Very few video magnifiers have the friction control and subsequently a person may move the X-Y table too quickly, causing them to lose their place while reading. The Manual friction control allows users to customize how quickly they want the X-Y table to move when reading. The Topaz has many standard features that are optional on other video magnifiers. First, the Topaz has a focus lock that keeps the camera focused on the target of interest. This will prevent the camera from focusing on the pencil while writing on a piece of paper. Second, the Topaz has a locator light that shines a beam of light on the reading material to help users to know what will be displayed on the screen. Third, The Topaz comes standard with many color combinations that allow users to change the colors of the background and text. Fourth, The Topaz has a brightness control knob that is extremely helpful when reading faded text or documents written in pencil. The Topaz also has the ability to turn the lights off to reduce reflected glare when reading magazines and glossy textbooks. Another nice feature of the Topaz is that it is modular and other advanced options can be added at a later time. We found the Topaz to provide an excellent image at all magnification levels. It was especially impressive when we place glossy paper, medication bottles, and other shiny objects under the camera. The Topaz provided the widest field of view of any video magnifier we tested and it also has the largest working space between the camera and the X-Y table, a very important factor for people who will use the Topaz to write or to repair items. . We wish the Topaz came standard with the ability to connect to a computer to share the same monitor for both the computer and the Topaz. Freedom Scientific has an optional computer connectivity module that easily plugs into the Topaz to allow users to connect their computer to the Topaz for $300. In summary, the Topaz is a very versatile video magnifier that works very well for reading, writing, and repair-work.
Humanware My Reader 2
Humanware has made the My Reader 2 more affordable in 2008 by offering the innovative camera without the monitor to allow users to use their computer monitor. Starting at $3895, the My Reader is an excellent video magnifier that scans the text and reformats it on the screen, eliminating the need to move the reading material from left to right while reading. The My Reader 2 is very versatile. It has a mode that allows users to use the My Reader 2 the same way that one uses a conventional video magnifier. This mode allows users to write, draw, and repair items under the color auto-focus camera. The My Reader also has other modes that make reading very quick and easy. The teleprompter mode allows users to have the text scrolled up the screen while the row mode scrolls the text from left to right similar to a Wall Street ticker tape.
The My Reader 2 has the capability to scan and place 13 pages of text in memory. The My Reader 2 provides high levels of magnification with the ability to alter the colors of the background and text.
We found the My Reader 2 to be a very unique video magnifier that can be tremendously helpful for people who have blind spots in their field of view. The row view can allow those with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa to keep their eyes focused on one spot and the My Reader 2 will move the text right before their eyes. The My Reader 2 with an in-line monitor sells for $4995 but is easily folded into a package that can be transported from home to work. We were very impressed with the My Reader 2 and feel it has a very special place for people who have difficulty or become dizzy when reading with a conventional video magnifier.
In 2008, Optelec has a 17-inch, 19-inch, and a 22-inch flat panel LCD screen to the ClearView Plus priced at $2695, $2895, and $3095 respectively. For years, the Clearview Plus has been one of the most popular and successful video magnifiers. Analogous to the Apple I-Mac Computer, the Clearview Plus is sleek with high tech features with a ï¿½cool design.ï¿½ The Clearview Plus produces very clear images with vivid colors at all levels of magnification.
Optelec Clearview Plus
The Clearview Plus is unique from other video magnifiers in that the controls are located on the X-Y table, making them very easy to access. This allows users to keep their hands on the table at all times while reading. The Clearview has a large ring on the front portion of the X-Y table that allows users to change the magnification. In the center of the ring is a button that controls the image mode, altering it from black and white, to color, or another customized background and text color. On the right side of the X-Y table is a window that can be slid open to alter the brightness and contrast. On the left side of the X-Y table are buttons that will change the colors of the background and text. In some models with the Advanced Feature Pack, the Clearview has buttons that will control the location of line markers to help users to maintain their places when reading. Another button on the left side of the X-Y table toggles from viewing the computer screen or the reading text.
The Clearview produces a vary sharp and clear image on the monitor. The auto-focus color camera focuses accurately and quickly. The X-Y table of the Clearview has an electronic lock feature that will lock the position of the table when writing. The Clearview also comes with a location finder, which shines a light on the reading material to allow users to know what region of the paper is being displayed on the monitor.
We were very pleased with the Optelec ClearView Plus. It produces a very sharp image and is arguably the most aesthetic video magnifier made today. We appreciated the location of the controls on the X-Y table for reading but found it to be a bit more difficult to draw and write on larger sheets of paper because of the reduced working area. We wish the ClearView had a brightness control knob or lever rather than the push button digital controls. We also wish the ClearView had a friction control to slow the speed that the X-Y table moved from left to right.