[blindkid] Comment on Netbooks

Richard Holloway rholloway at gopbc.org
Fri May 25 02:18:58 UTC 2012

Bonnie, I'd check back with Best Buy. If they are missing from the store, it must just be that store... I have not seen any shortage of netbooks in our local store or any other retailers around here. A quick glance at bestbuy.com brings up 31 items under a search for netbook. About 25 of them are 10" notebook style computers. There are a few 11" machines and a 12" unit or two. Pricing starts around $250 and goes up to $600 or so for the typical designs, though a couple of high end units are available for $2500 and even $3500. The $3500 unit is a tablet design where the monitor can spin around backwards and be used much like a large heavy clumsy version of iPad at about 5x the cost of an entry level iPad. I'm guessing this is either an outdated machine or an extremely specialized model for particular applications.

In my own experience, I tend to think LOW power an CHEAP, (as well as light and portable) when I think of a netbook,There are other, cheaper sources for netbooks as well. I tend to look at frys.com (or a local frys if you have one). Frys are to electronics stores what Sams Clubs are to a typical WalMart or Target, only they don't have a budget decor like a wholesale club.

Online I see netbooks listed at frys for a little as $149, though they seem not to have the low end units in stock right now. Shop around on-line and you can definitely find some deals if you know what you're looking for.

On the PK question, all indications are that humanware has totally switched over to the Apex now. It sort of makes sense as the Apex design is actually a couple of years old at this point. Two years is an eternity in computer time. Before the Apex came the mPower, and then if memory serves, the PK was before that-- maybe even a couple of designs before? (This predates anything we have used for Kendra.)

One think you might check on though. I know that Freedom Scientific (PAC Mate folks) offer refurbs of certain older pieces. Check with Humanware directly and see if they can offer you anything, assuming no old stock units are hiding on a shelf somewhere.

You might also watch ebay. There is a braillenote PK listed there now, but it is $1820 + shipping and no returns. It doesn't even include a charger, so I have to wonder how they tested the machine, but they do claim it works. This unit has a built in display though and I don't know that it is lighter than other solutions. It looks somewhat larger and presumably heavier than an Apex actually (someone correct me if I am wrong please).

I would not go that route if it were me. It seems a large gamble! I've bought a couple of low cost notetakers as an experiment and ended up with DOA equipment and the sellers didn't even realize it. In once case a loose keycap was superglued back on and accidentally immobilized two keys. Even well intended computer people are often clueless with these machines in a used marketplace. I'll buy an embosser or maybe a thermoform, but generally not a notetaker from such sources. Not without a great return policy for certain...

I do also see a couple of other braillenotes listed on ebay for $349 and $600. All of these say no returns though, and I expect that the internal batteries (even on ones that claim to be "new") would be shot. That is a hassle right from the start. Either you send them to humanware or you have someone open the case. I have seen inside some of the older machines. An Apex battery just pops off and swaps like most current laptops. Older machines tend to have a number of INTERNAL cells soldered together in whatever grouping will fit inside the space not used by electronics, so whatever you do to come up with a solution will involve someone fabricating a battery from loose cells. If these internal batteries are really dead, best case, the machine would only work plugged in (and many of these machines have no charger supplied) so you can see why this is such a concern...

I'd be curious what others have found, but I just don't see used notetakers (unless you know the history and get a great deal with return privileges) as a way to go.

On May 24, 2012, at 8:57 PM, Bonnie Lucas wrote:

> Do some computer stores not carry netbooks any longer? I ask this because
> Aubrie and my husband were at Best Buy here in Anchorage and they could not
> find any net books. Frankly, it's possible that they were there but my
> husband didn't see them anywhere. I ask that because I'm wondering if they
> are on the way out with all the small tablets around. We were also wondering
> if Humanware still makes the PK. If you had a small note taker and a
> netbook, you could certainly reduce the weight and include a Braille display
> without too much extra weight. Given that Aubrie has been carrying several
> Braille books to her classes, anything would be better than that. She has
> loved having her Apex and I agree with you, Richard, the ease of using it
> makes it such a cool thing to have. On Sunday, she carries only the
> BrailleNote and stuffs a couple of things in the front pocket. She uses it
> for singing hymns and reading scriptures in class, along with the other
> students. Her teachers put things on thumb drives and she can then read
> quotes and stories along with the other students. As a side note, I have
> given a couple of them each a slate and they make framed quotes for her just
> as they do the others to emphasize a point in the lesson. 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jaquiss, Robert [mailto:RJaquiss at nfb.org] 
> Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:40 PM
> To: Blind Kid Mailing List, (for parents of blind children)
> (blindkid at nfbnet.org)
> Subject: [blindkid] Comment on Netbooks
> Robert Jaquiss
> Access Technology Specialist
> National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
> 200 E. Wells Street at Jernigan Place
> Baltimore, MD 21230
> Phone: (410) 659-9314, Ext.2422
> Email: rjaquiss at nfb.org
> Hello:
>     I thought I would offer another comment on PC based laptops, netbooks,
> ultrabooks etc. JAWS makes heavy use of memory, so users should have at
> least 4GB of RAM. The faster the CPU the better. This requirement does
> preclude the use of the lower end devices. Hope this helps.
> Regards,
> Robert
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