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BBC News - Technology

A Column On Assistive & 'Boomer' Friendly Technology

 

When I was 30 years old the warranty on my body ran out. Systems started failing and tech support wasn't a whole lot of help. Re-booting wasn't an option and calls to the manufacturer.... Well let's just say the‘answers' are still a point of discussion. It's not like it was the‘blue screen of death' or anything, but it is chronic... (Multiple Sclerosis). It has caused me to have a different perspective on most things because where I sit.... is in a wheelchair.

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From Where I Sit

Pandigital Novel 9" Color Multimedia eReader

It's a Book, it's an eReader, It's a Super-eReader

 

When the 9" Color Multimedia eReader from PandigitalTM with Android Operating System arrived at our offices it caused a small skirmish to break out. Everyone wanted to test it. I, having no shame, played the disabled card and got it.

Pandigital 9

 

As an avid reader, I wanted to see if the product was just another eReader with a big screen or something more. It's definitely more, so much so that it caused confusion with my expectations. It's name, the PandigitalTM Novel makes me think eReader, but its caption, a 9" multimedia eReader, is much closer to the truth.

 

You see, it has a 9" full color touchscreen display, a stylus for ease of navigating and Android OS 2.1 enabling the download and use of numerous APPs. This kept making me look at this as a full tablet. It's not....but it's awfully darn close. By the way, it is only 1/2" deep and weighs 20.5 ounces making it comfortable to hold.

 

The eReader's 9" TFT-LCD (Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display) touchscreen has a 480 x 800 pixels resolution.  While not the highest resolution on the market, we found it more than adequate for the tasks we gave it. The G-Sensor easily goes from portrait to landscape mode. The 2 GB internal memory is enhanced by an SD (Secure Digital) card slot that can handle up to 32GB which is certainly enough to hold books and much more.

 

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Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700

A recent news broadcast blared a headline warning us against TSS - Toasted Skin Syndrome. We laughed and thought the reporter was just doing a lead in for some video we’d end up seeing on YouTube™. Further research revealed a real condition as reported by NHS  on 10/01/2010. Apparently that warm and toasty feeling you get on the top of your thighs when you use your laptop is exactly that! It’s warm alright, and it's slowly toasting your legs! 

Although I spend most of my computer time at my desktop PC, I rely on my laptop to continue working when I’m mobile or need to get out of my wheelchair and get more comfortable.   

We received the Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700  to review and I grabbed it.  I wanted to see how it would meet my needs. I wasn’t expecting much… – OK.. yes I was. 
lee_hard_at_work_with_n700_lapdesk.jpg
Given my physical challenges I spend the vast majority of my time seated. When I can’t work at my desk, my lap becomes my desk. To me a lap desk is a must and therefore I tend to be a bit discerning (picky?) when it comes to things like usability, comfort and convenience for potential hours of use.  The Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700 gives me what I need and more…with one small exception.

Let’s break it down.

SleepPhones™ from AcousticSheep

To Sleep...Perchance to Dream...

We returned from the CEA Line Show having seen some interesting and innovative products. Among them, a simple but effective aide for a common problem we all face at one time or another – trouble sleeping.

At the end of the day, sleep is what I want but thoughts and ideas are what I get. My answer is to meditate.  I found that to get to that place of total relaxation it helps me to have the right soundtrack as a guide. Recordings with a binaural tone do the trick for me. It is, however, quite awkward – to try to sleep with earphones stuck in my ears. lavender SleepPhones


AcousticSheep, LLC, a Pennsylvania eco-friendly and socially conscious company introduced SleepPhones™ Pajamas for your Ears. Developed by Wei-Shin Lai, MD a family physician that experienced problems going back to sleep after late night patient calls. Her husband suggested listening to binaural beat frequencies that drive brain activity into a specific brain state. This, however, can only be achieved using stereo headphones.


The dilemma – how to listen to the sounds comfortably all night? Let’s face it, even really good earbuds or earphones can become a little bothersome when worn for 8 hours while trying to sleep.

Having a similar situation in that I enjoy listening to meditation music at night to get me and keep me asleep, I have gone through many sets of earbuds and earphones. I was looking forward to using the SleepPhones™. sleepphone_system.jpg

The SleepPhones ™ came in an eco-friendly paper bag labeled with a sleeping lamb wearing headphones. In the bag is a 21” soft stretch fleece band in a lovely lavender color (don’t worry guys, it also comes in grey and black) with pockets for two 32 Ohms 20kHz speakers and a 48” cord with a ⅛” stereo plug that plugs into your MP3 player, IPod or almost all audio devices.

The system is useful for drowning out other noises such as snoring (his not mine) or ambient traveling ruckus.  It even plugs into the audio channel on an airplane, assuming that your airline still provides music (or anything else for that matter). Pull the headband down over your eyes and presto – a sleep mask.

thats_not_us.jpgThe headband is snugly and comfortable, which will be great in cold weather. The only issue I had was how warm the headband is during the summer. [Note to AcousticSheep: maybe something in an open netting or weave for warmer weather?]

As for acoustics, surprisingly good. Excellent in fact. The compact speakers are full range and when snuggled comfortably on your ears, deliver a clean, precise sound experience.

Packaging on our review set was definitely geared to the female demographic. Besides all of the cuddly sheep imagery, the contents even included a lovely aromatic sachet. This might not scream ‘manly’ to your guy, but be careful, if he tries them you may have a hard time getting them back. My husband gave them a whirl and couldn’t stop talking about how good the acoustics were….and he’s very fussy about his tech.
black_sleepphones.jpg

My testing of the SleepPhones was a very positive experience. They deliver not only excellent audio but also exceptional comfort.

Sheep everywhere should take note!
 


scared_sheep.jpgI would give the SleepPhones product 4 out of 5 sheep…uh stars. The only thing that would make it better were if it were wireless….but that would add to cost!

The company calls them Pajamas for yours Ears; I say they are a Lullaby For Your Mind.

SleepPhones™ available in lavender, grey or black. -  $54.95

SleepPhones System includes a Natural Sound CD with binaural technology and a lavender sachet. -  $64.95

Oh No You Didn’t

Nuance's PDF Converter Professional 6.0

One of my associates spent hours writing a paper and sent it to me to proofread.  I read the document and jotted down my ideas, typed in some comments, a little cut here, a little paste there, a whole bunch of deletions with research references, and then, in a moment that can only be described as distracted creativity (?), promptly saved it overwriting the original file.  Yikes!

That’s when the “Oh No You Didn’t!rang out through the office.

Fortuitously, I had printed out the original document. Even more fortunately, our office had been sent a copy of PDF Converter Professional 6.0 from Nuance Communications for review. 

 

Read more: Oh No You Didn’t