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Technology Watch - August 2007
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I got to see the Onyx yesterday, a new CCTV from Freedom Scientific yesterday, and here is a brief review.
It is a small camera on an arm mounted to a base, similar to the Eye-stick, Clearnote, etc.
Freedom is currently selling four versions, 2 of which I saw. One can be connected to a laptop, the other can be connected to a TV with a composite or s-video cable. The only hardware difference between the two is the little black box that plugs in between the Onyx base and the display.

Onyx Swing-arm PC Edition
The laptop version runs with Magic screen magnification software that has a video capture feature incorporated to display the image on the screen. It requires 2 USB ports and has no battery power of it's own. It can be run connected to 1 USB port if you plug an AC adapter into the Onyx. The camera rotates around and flips up for distance viewing and is almost as mobile as the Eye-stick. The lens that allows you to switch between distance and close up is hinged to the bottom of the camera. There is about 9" clearance between the center of the camera and the camera arm, so it would not be useful for wide material. The Onyx is controlled with a small radio frequency remote control. The RF remote does not have to be pointed at the device to work. There is also a screen capture feature for the laptop software, but the rep didn't quite know how it worked. We played around with it a while and got it to operate, but it wasn't quick and easy to use. We have to go through a menu, select screen capture, and choose a file name and directory, which means it might take to long to do a screen capture to be useful. I am sure a hotkey or macro could be created to make it easier. The Onxy is fairly easy to put together and take apart (much easier than the Clearnote due to the plugs), and has its own hard carrying case. Retail cost is $2895

Onyx Swing-Arm Edition
As I mentioned before, the Onyx can also be connected to a TV with a different adapted box. It will plug in with the standard composite (RCA) jack or s-video. Apparently, it can also be connected to a portable DVD player if the DVD player has an s-video input. This is an entirely separate product from the version that connects to the laptop. There is currently no way to purchase the adapter box so you have both options, but I mentioned to the rep that other similar products can be connected to both a laptop or a stand alone computer monitor, so it would be nice if that option was available for the Onyx as well. He said he'd look into it. Cost is $2195

The rep also mentioned they were working on an X-Y table for it, which should cost around $200.

Pluses: This device uses the latest in digital video technology, and has a very crisp and clear image. All the controls are on the remote, and can be placed where ever the user can best reach it. Set up appears to be user friendly. It also comes with Magic screen magnification software, so there is no need to buy another $400 screen magnifier.

Minuses: Does not have it's own battery power, so it runs of the laptop. It requires two USB ports on the computer to operate. It can not be connected to both a laptop and monitor/TV for home use as it is currently available. Like all devices that run through USB ports, there is lag between movement and the image on the screen.

There are also two more versions which I didn't get to see, the Onyx Deskset 17 (picture reminds me of a Clarity Deskmate, so now I am waiting to see which company comes out with a product call the DeskView) which attaches the swing arm to a 17" LCD monitor, and the Onyx Flex-arm PC Edition, which looks like a Enhanced Vision Acrobat that connects to a laptop.

For more information go to:

Picture of Onyx Swing-arm PC Edition from Freedom Scientific
Onyx Video Magnifiers by Freedom Scientific - August 28 2007