Explore 8 Electronic Magnifier for Low Vision

My friend is not just legally blind, she is almost completely blind with just 2% vision. On the test where people like me worry about one line less or one letter less on the chart, she can’t even see the chart. But now in her mid-70s, she still lives alone and manages to maintain her lifestyle and keep up her house.

Helpful devices for low vision

She has been mentioning for some time how difficult it can be if she gets turned around when out by herself, although now with a new iPhone, she can ask Siri where she is. Enter her newest electronic helper, the Explore 8 by Humanware. Basically a portable CCTV.

What is Explore 8?

The Explore 8 is a touchscreen high-definition handheld magnifier. It can magnify from 2 to 30 times with the 2 Ultra HD cameras with autofocus. The magnification default setting can be set to whatever works for the individual.

Customizating the magnification

My friend has found 9x magnification works best for her vision. One camera is for close-up viewing distance: 3.35 in. - 5.90 in. (8.5 cm - 15 cm), such as reading a document or the instructions on the back of a cake mix box. Many who use a CCTV find it doesn’t focus if the object is not flat on the table. The Explore 8 can even help with the curved labels on spice jars. This distance is automatically set when the attached stand is folded out.

A discrete option

When using it outside, people wouldn’t necessarily notice she is blind. It would look just like using a tablet to take a picture. She can use it as a camera and freeze the image to just see what it is or have it save the picture. It will store 1000s of images.

Useful for long distances, too!

When the stand is folded up against the back of the unit, it automatically changes to distance viewing. Perfect for reading street signs or store names.

An easy to use device

For ease of use, there are only three large physical buttons placed on the front at the bottom. The first one on the left is a minus button to zoom out. Holding down the large middle button opens a menu where you are able to customize the settings. Among others, it allows you to change colors to find the one that works best for you. Black on yellow seems to work best for her. The button on the right is a plus sign, used to zoom in.

Using Explore 8 to view electronic displays

As she normally was unable to see an electronic display, even with a magnifying glass, this has changed the ease of use of most of her appliances. She discovered there was a “favorites” setting on her oven, which has made cooking much less frustrating.

When watching television, she has it on her lap and can actually see who is talking - for the most part. It is able to connect to the tv, but so far, she’s happy with just having it on her knee to use when needed.

Recharable batteries

The specifications say the rechargeable battery lasts 4.5 hours. My friend has had this for about 2 months, and it is still on its first charge.

Is it worth it?

There is also a 5-inch version available. These are not inexpensive, but when asked, she said it was worth more than that in how much it has helped ease things in her life. Her last word on it? “It’s a good thing.”

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