Choosing a Portable Video Magnifier

Choosing a Portable Video Magnifier

Why are they handy?

A portable video magnifier is a great bit of kit. When you’re shopping you can see the fine print on ingredients or prices, in a fairly unobtrusive way. At home they are great for reading the mail, a TV guide, a newspaper or magazine.

At RealSAM, we wanted to know how good In Your Pocket’s onboard Video Magnifier was, so we have put it up against the other units from the RNIB shop for people with low vision. We have a comparison table at the end of the article.

Things to consider

In Your Pocket is slightly different from all the other units. The Video Magnifier software is installed onto our Voice controlled handset, and gets updated regularly. This means that its feature set can improve based on customer feedback. These “Over the Air” updates are free to all existing and new users – so nobody misses out.

Price

Everyone considers price first, but also last. We all have a budget in mind, but after doing a review, we may decide to break our budget. The cheapest Magnifier comes in at £178.80, the most expensive at £629.00. And that one is In Your Pocket, but its only £30 more expensive than the next one, however, unlike its competitors, it’s also a mobile phone for the blind, an audio book player, a talking newspaper reader, a satnav unit and much more – with countless accessibility features! The rest are just portable video magnifiers. In Your Pocket can be yours from just £25.99 per month.

The Input

Obviously the better the input to the video magnifier, the better the output. The more details the camera catches, the more you can zoom in without things getting fuzzy. A number of the units available have a high-quality 5MP camera which is enough to zoom in sharply and display readable content on a portable device. Sadly though, many of the devices do not disclose the resolution of their camera, other than saying its HD. Which would be fine if HD was an agreed standard. Sadly it’s not and a large variety of resolutions can be called HD. So when looking at a unit where the resolution isn’t specified, it would be best to test a number of units together, under the same conditions to see what works for you.

By the way, something to watch out for is that not all portable video magnifiers come with a built in light. Which makes things tougher when trying to see in dim conditions or near the end of the day. You’ll notice that all too often sighted people, especially of the 50+ persuasion, use the flash on their phones, to see a menu in a dimly lit restaurant. There is no excuse for not putting one on a portable video magnifier.

The Output

The ability to zoom in is critical to selecting the right portable video magnifier. Some devices offer quite high resolutions, but at the top end its all digital magnification, which is never as good as optical.

Features

Most of the devices have a set of standard features, such as the ability to change the colours or contrast of the image and the ability to output to a television.

You should ensure that the portable video magnifier you select has the range colours that work best for you. The ability to output to a television seems attractive on the surface, but it’s unlikely that it will come in handy when you are out and about – we are talking about portable video magnifiers.

Weight

Weight can matter, especially if you have a number of devices stuck in a handbag or backpack. The lightest unit is 172gm and the heaviest is over ½ kilogram, being the Ruby 7. Of course the lightest unit, being the In Your Pocket also has a hidden benefit. It’s a Jack of all trades being a phone, satnav unit. Book reader and more – so you don’t need to purchase and carry those items separately.

Support

Weight can matter, especially if you have a number of devices stuck in a handbag or backpack. The lightest unit is 172gm and the heaviest is over ½ kilogram, being the Ruby 7. Of course the lightest unit, being the In Your Pocket also has a hidden benefit. It’s a Jack of all trades being a phone, satnav unit. Book reader and more – so you don’t need to purchase and carry those items separately.

The Conclusion

All the units are great devices. But some will do a much better job than others. It really depends on how much sight you will have today, and tomorrow.

We would of course recommend In Your Pocket as its not only a great Video Magnifier and phones for the blind or visually impaired, but because it’s some much more!

Portable Video Magnifiers
Price Input Output Features Weight
inc VAT Camera Flash Screen Size Screen Res Zoom Colour change in gm
In Your Pocket : Xcover4s £629.00 5MP Yes 12.7 720 x 1520 7x Yes 172
Ruby 7 HD PivotCam £598.80 5MP No 17.78 N/D 24x Yes 510
Pebble HD 4.3 £582.00 N/D No 10.9 272 x 480 13.5x Yes 205
Ruby XL HD £478.80 5MP Yes 12.7 480 x 800 14x Yes 300
Explorē 5 £478.80 5MP No 12.7 480 x 800 22x Yes 228
Clover 5 £418.80 N/D Yes 12.7 N/D 20 x Yes 210
Optolec Compact+ HD £390.00 5MP Yes 10.9 272 x 480 10x Yes 250
Clover 4 £358.80 N/D Yes 10.9 N/D 24x Yes 180
ZOOMAX Snow £354.00 N/D No 17.78 N/D 16x Yes 204
Ruby HD 4.3 £330.00 N/D Yes 10.9 N/D 13x Yes 226
Ruby £238.80 N/D Yes 10.9 N/D 14x Yes 218
Lilly 3.5″ HandyReader HD £178.80 1MP No 8.9 720×1280 x24 Yes 250

(N/D = Not Disclosed anywhere we could find)