Re: [BCAB] BrailleNote and Braille Sense families comparison Deon van Wyk 16 Nov 2012 11:03 GMT

Hello Kevin

Note the BraillePlus 18 has just come on the market and soon the B2G
and SANote (the latter without braille) will be available
too.  BrailleSense U2 has much better specs than BrailleNote and
firmware upgrades are free.


"Product comparisons between BrailleNote, Braille Sense and PAC Mate

Here's a comparison sheet between some of the leading blindness
notetakers: BrailleNote series, Braille Sense family and PAC Mate
models. In this page, a representative of each product progression -
BrailleNote Apex, Braille Sense U2 and PAC Mate Omni, respectively
will be compared.

Note: The specifications may differ on different models in the same
product range. See the footnotes for more information.
    * Manufacturer: HumanWare (BrailleNote), HIMS (BrailleSense),
Freedom Scientific (PAC Mate). (See note 1 in case of Braille Sense.)
    * Operating system: Windows Embedded CE 6.0 (Apex and U2),
Windows Mobile 6 Classic (PAC Mate Omni). (See note 2 for different
operating systems present on different incarnations of the products
in question.)
    * Processor: Freescale i.MX31 at 532 MHz (BrailleNote Apex), ARM
Cortex series at 1 GHz (Braille Sense U2), Intel X-Scale PXA255 at
400 MHz (PAC Mate Omni). (See note 3 for various processors found on
different models.)
    * Memory: 256 MB RAM, 8 GB Flash (BrailleNote Apex), 256 MB RAM,
32 GB Flash (Braille Sense U2), 64 MB RAM, 128 MB Flash (PAC Mate
Omni). (See Note 4 for various memory configurations.)
    * Braille display length: 18 or 32 (BrailleNote), 18, 20 or 32
(Braille Sense), 20 or 40 (PAC Mate). (See note 5 for Voice Sense.)
    * Braille scrolling method: Thumb-keys (BrailleNote), scroll keys
(Braille Sense), whiz wheels and nav buttons (PAC Mate).
    * Removable braille display: Yes (Voice Sense and PAC Mate Omni),
no (BrailleNote). (See note 5 on the case of Sync Braille and PAC Mate).
    * USB ports: 4 (BrailleNote Apex and Braille Sense U2), 1 (PAC
Mate). See note 6 on host and client ports and supported devices.
    * Wi-Fi: Built-in (BrailleNote and Braille Sense), external card
(PAC Mate). (See note 7 on different cases for older BrailleNote and
Braille Sense models.)
    * Bluetooth: Built-in (BrailleNote and BrailleSense), external
card (PAC Mate). (See note 7 on older models.)
    * Ethernet port: Built-in (BrailleNote and Braille Sense),
external card (PAC Mate). (See note 7 for CompactFlash card versions
of these adapters for PAC Mate and older BrailleNote models.)
    * CompactFlash: Yes (all models). (See note 8 on using card
reader on the Apex and U2 to read CompactFlash cardds.)
    * Secure Digital: Yes (all models). (See note 9 on using SD to CF
adapter on PAC Mate.)
    * PC card: Yes (BrailleNote), no (Braille Sense and PAC Mate).
(See note 9 on PC card slot on older PAC Mate and BrailleNote models).
    * Removable battery: Yes (BrailleNote and Braille Sense), no (PAC
Mate). (See note 10 on older PAC Mate models for presence of
removable battery pack.)
    * Multitasking: limited to two or three programs at once
(BrailleNote), up to seven (Braille Sense), unlimited (PAC Mate).
(See note 11 on special cases dealing with PAC Mate.)
    * Supports Word 2007 documents: Yes (Braille Sense and PAC Mate),
n/a (BrailleNote).;
    * Visual display: Built-in VGA port or an adapter ( BrailleNote
Apex, PAC Mate and all models of Braille Sense family), built-in
monitor (Braille Sense family). See note 12 for different scenarios.

    * Braille Sense were distributed by GW Micro until 2010. Since
then, HIMS Inc. is in charge of distribution in North America.
    * The breakdown of operating systems are: Windows Embedded CE 6.0
(BrailleNote Apex and Braille Sense U2), Windows 4.2
(BrailleNote mPower, PK and Classic), Windows CE 2.12 (older
BrailleNote Classic), Windows CE 5.0 (Braille Sense Plus, OnHand,
Voice Sense and Braille Sense Original since firmware 5.0), Windows 4.1 (older Braille Sense Original), Windows Mobile 2003 (PAC
Mate BX/QX), Pocket PC 2002 (PAC Mate BNS/TNS). PAC Mate Omni uses
Windows Mobil 6 Classic on top of Windows CE 5.2.
    * The processors used on different models are: ARM Cortex Mobile
processor at 1 GHz (Braille Sense U2), Freescale i.MX31 at 532 MHz
(BrailleNote Apex), Intel X-Scale PXA270 at 416 MHz (BrailleNote
mPower), Intel X-scale PXA255 at 400 MHz (Braille Sense Original,
BrailleNote PK, PAC Mate BX/QX original and PAC Mate Omni BX/QX),
MIPS R4000 at 100 MHz (BrailleNote Classic), Strong ARM 1110 (PAC
Mate BNS/TNS), Intel X-Scale PXA272 at 520 MHz (Voice Sense family,
Braille Sense Plus and Braille Sense OnHand).
    * Various memory configurations are (RAM is program memory, Flash
is storage space): 256 MB RAM, 32 GB Flash (Braille Sense U2), 256 MB
RAM, 8 GB Flash (BrailleNote Apex), 128 MB RAM, 8 GB Flash (Braille
Sense Plus), 128 MB RAM, 4 GB Flash (Braille Sense OnHand and Voice
Sense QWERTY), 128 Mb RAM, 1 GB Flash (Voice Sense original with
braille keyboard), 64 MB RAM, 128 MB Flash (BrailleNote mPower and
PAC Mate Omni), 64 MB RAM, 64 MB Flash (Braille Sense Original), 64
MB RAM, 32 MB Flash (PAC Mate BX/QX and BNS/TNS), 40 MB RAM, 16 MB
Flash (BrailleNote PK), 16 MB RAM, 16 MB Flash (BrailleNote Classic,
Flash can be upgraded to 48 MB).
    * All Braille Sense family except Braille Sense OnHand has
32-cell display. Braille Sense OnHand has 18, while Voice Sense can
use external 20 or 32-cell braille display (SyncBraille) for braille
output. PAC Mate uses removable 20 or 40-cell braille display modules
- hence the bulkiness of their size.
    * USB ports: BrailleNote PK and PAC Mate has one USB port - PK is
client only and PAC Mate's port can serve either as host or client
(USB OTG). BrailleNote mPower has two hosts and one client, Braille
Sense family (except U2) has 1 host and 1 client (except OnHand which
has one OTG port) and BrailleNote Apex and Braille Sense U2 has 3
hosts and 1 client. In addition, Braille Sense family can act as a
USB flash drive when connected to a computer.
    * PAC Mate requires use of CompactFlash cards for Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth and other accessories. Older BrailleNote and Braille Sense
models require CompactFlash for wireless connection, whereas certain
BrailleNote and Braille Sense models can utilize USB adapters - Wi-Fi
for BrailleNote, Bluetooth for Braille Sense, respectively. All
devices except BrailleNote Classic and pK support 802.11G and Braille
Sense U2 can utilize 802.11N networks. In addition, Braille Sense U2
supports USB cellular modems.
    * To read CompactFlash cards on the Apex and U2, use USB CF card reader.
    * There is an SD to CompactFlash adapter which accepts both SD
and SDHC cards - hence, PAC mate can read SD cards. Likewise, a PC
card can be used on BrailleNote Classic, mPower and PAC Mate BNS/TNS.
    * BrailleNote Apex, PAC Mate BNS/TNS and all models of Braille
Sense family features removable battery.
    * Despite unlimited multitasking capabilities, PAC Mate has upper
limit of 32 processes at once (mostly due to operating system being
used). Braille Sense exits the first task when more than seven
programs are opened to compensate for 32 process limit. BrailleNote
allows users to listen to media files and browse the web in addition
to working on their current task.
    * BrailleNote models other than Apex can utilize serial, infrared
or Bluetooth connection for visual display output. Some BrailleNote
models support CompactFlash VGA adapter. PAC Mate can utilize CF card
or an external program for visual output. Braille Sense units with
QWERTY keyboard does not have built-in monitors.

Device specific notes

    * PAC Mate BX/BNS features cursor cross in the middle for cursor
    * BrailleNote/VoiceNote Apex BT features scroll wheel for
navigation and performing common commands.
    * PAC Mate can read PowerPoint 2007 presentations.
    * Braille Sense U2 features vibration motor for user feedback.
    * Braille Sense OnHand, U2 and Voice Sense QWERTY features
built-in GPS receiver/electronic compass.
    * Apart from BrailleNote Classic and mPower, other PDA's feature
stereo speakers.

Last update to this page: 05/04/2012 12:37:16
At 10:31 16/11/2012, you wrote:
>I'm in the market for a new notetaker.  My Braille Lite Millennium 40 has
>served me for many years, but it is becoming more and more unreliable.
>I want to find a very comprehensive comparison between the BrailleNote and
>Braille Sense families.  I've looked at the OnHand and really like it for
>it's size, but certainly prefer the braille keyboard on the Braille Sense
>U2 model.
>However, I really want a comparison of all the facilities available on the
>two ranges.
>For instance, how does battery life compare with the different models.  Is
>the Oxford Dictionary package available on the Braille Sense.  Does the MS
>Word emulation cover Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 on the BrailleNote and
>Braille Sense.  Is Sendero similar on all products.
>As I say, I'm looking for a lot of detail in the comparisons.
>Many thanks for any help with this.
>Kevin Russell
>CICS Test
>MP 102 Hursley Park
>Winchester, Hampshire
>United Kingdom.  SO21 2JN
>Tel: +44  1962 815531
>(internal 245531)
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