The Ultimate Portable Electronic Magnifier?

Portable electronic magnifiers have long been an important tool in the toolbox of people with a vision impairment. With their ability to magnify to large sizes, change the color of text for better contrast, and of course portable design, they’re essential tools for reading menus, price labels and other essentials when you’re out and about. However as with anything else, for all the benefits there are also downsides. One is that the small screen sizes of these devices are only good for ‘spot reading’ – that is, reading small amounts of text. This is fine for a lot of reading tasks, but if you want to read a newspaper, magazine or book then a portable usually doesn’t cut it. A second downside is that they aren’t useful for writing underneath, as their low camera height doesn’t allow for you to put your hand underneath.

In recent years portable electronic magnifiers have started to offer larger screen sizes in an effort to be more applicable for larger amounts of reading. Of course, a balance has to be maintained which still allows for portability while offering a larger screen size. Ideally, a portable device can be taken out when needed, but also be used at home for reading larger amounts of text, thus eliminating the need for two devices – a portable and a desktop electronic magnifier. Technology has reached a point now where this is more possible, as a lightweight and portable design can be maintained even when a larger screen size is used. Even with this being the case, current larger portable devices are still not ideal for writing underneath, often requiring a separate stand to raise the camera.

The latest larger portable device to come on the market is the Compact 10 HD Speech from Optelec. This device features a 10″ screen, which is a great size in that it offers a nice viewing area while still being small enough to be a practical portable device. Of course, the main camera is high-definition and offers a very sharp and clear image at all magnification levels. You may have noticed I said ‘main camera’…that’s because the Compact 10 offers a second camera, which folds out of the top of the device. This is where things really get interesting!

This camera when folded out is high above and to the side of the device, offering a wide field of view. This makes it perfect for writing underneath, without the need for a separate stand or anything else additional. But that’s not all! Not only does this camera offer a great solution for writing, but it also offers a great solution for OCR. Simply put your document underneath the camera, use an on-screen control to take a picture of it, and the Compact 10 will read the text aloud to you. The Compact 10 can read an 8.5×11 in one go, and has an easy to understand voice which can be adjusted for speed and volume.

We like this device a lot. If offers a very portable package with all the features you could ask for, and could be a practical replacement to a desktop electronic magnifier while still being practical to take out and about with you. The only potential downside is that the controls are all done using the touchscreen, which some people may find challenging. That being said, most people own touchscreen devices these days, and as such controlling the Compact 10 may come naturally to many.

As usual, we have made a video about the Compact 10 HD Speech so you don’t need to take our word about what it can do! Check it out below!


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