Can Video Magnifiers be Replaced by Magnifying APPs?

Talking about the benefit of living in an era with the rapid development of technology, what has to be mentioned is that those high-technological products and devices truly make life more convenient. It’s definitely good news for people with visual impairments as they have more options when looking for the most suitable low vision aids for more independence and better life. With the launch of multiple technologies -Audio navigation systems, electronic video magnifiers, applications for the blind and visually impaired, and so on- many companies are devoting themselves to developing good products for people with low vision.

magnifying applications on the smartphonesAmong several assistive technologies for low-vision people on the market, the magnifying app is one of the choices as it can be easily downloaded on the cellphones and most of them are affordable. Nevertheless, the electronic video magnifier with physical buttons are the most applicable low vision aids for about two decades and is still the first option for people with visual impairments.

Why are these two types of visual aids more popular on the market? What specific features do they respectively have? How to choose between these two types? What conclusion can we have if comparing these types of magnifiers? And can video magnifiers be replaced by the magnifying apps? Read on to figure out all the answers.

The Features of Common Magnifying APPs

Many people with visual impairments have a magnifying app on their phones. It’s always convenient and fast to use the app as you can just access it through your cellphone. These applications acquire simple functions like zooming in and out and changing the color contrast, so they can meet users’ basic daily needs in most cases. For people whose vision is not that bad or whose budget is not ready yet for buying a professional low vison magnifier, these apps do some help and bring certain convenience.

So what are the shortages of the magnifying Apps? You may easily find magnifying applications in different phone systems, but it doesn’t mean that every application is good enough to use. You will spend plenty of time trying out some apps before finally discovering the one that works for you. Many people might never find any app that really helps. It is time-consuming and depressing.

how to use magnifying appsFurthermore, due to the screen size of a cellphone, what magnifying apps can do is actually limited, which makes the functions of magnifying apps often too simple. Also, if you request advanced functions, for example, the text-to-speech function, you may always need to access another application to achieve this. And when lifting up your cellphone, you will find it can recognize or scan several words only due to the limited screen size. We should admit that this is not a problem when you are just trying to read some specific works. But it will never light you up when you want to read a long file or even want to scan an A-4 page content. One more thing to be aware of is when doing long-period reading and especially when you move your cellphone on the reading material, you will probably give up, because of the vague and lagging image.

And lastly, you will not be able to write underneath when you use the magnifying app. You may think of using an external stand and try to write under the camera when you put the cellphone on the stand.  Not a bad idea. However, because the cellphone is not specially designed for this writing purpose, you will find the image is becoming poor and the image lag is annoying.

What’s the Function of Video Magnifiers?

As independent digital devices, video magnifiers come with a variety of types and enable more functions than those phone apps. Electronic video magnifiers are particularly designed for people with visual impairments, of which functions are supposed to fit more eye conditions and help the visually impaired group see things as clearly as they can.

Common functions of electronic video magnifiers include:

  • Adjust magnifications
  • Adjust color contrasts
  • Activate reading lines or masks
  • Freeze and save the images

zoomax snow 12 electronic video magnifierTo some extent, they are all basic functions of a video magnifier and different types of video magnifiers have different settings for these functions. In the meantime, some vision aids also use advanced functions like the adjustable field of view (FOV), distance viewing, and the text-to-speech function to make the functions of the device more powerful and adapt to various scenarios.

Take Zoomax Snow 12 as an example, it’s a portable video magnifier for people who have visual impairments and you can use it in various places due to its abundant functions. The range of the magnifications is from 2.7x to 19x without the foldable stand and 2.5x to 19x with the stand. The size of the screen is about 12 inches which means you are able to have more content demonstrated on your screen with this device. And there are up to 10 color contrasts to fit different eye conditions. With the foldable stand that is equipped with Zoomax Snow 12, you can not only recognize full-page content to access the text-to-speech function, but also write fluently underneath the device.

It’s a fact that visual aids like Zoomax Snow 12 have a much bigger size than normal smartphones, but the device also acquires more functions than a smartphone. In this circumstance, electronic video magnifiers are better choices when you want to use them for study, work, or other relatively complicated uses. You won’t be able to achieve all these needs if you only have a magnifying app on your smartphone.

zoomax luna 8In addition to Zoomax Snow 12, there are also smaller types of video magnifiers like Luna S, Luna 6 and Luna 8 that you can carry with you easier. These kinds of video magnifiers don’t have abundant functions as Snow 12 but they have their own advantages respectively. For instance, Luna S and Luna 6 both have pocket-size that you can take anywhere. Especially, Luna 6 has a built-in handle for low vision people to use outdoors more conveniently.

Some people may wonder if those handheld video magnifiers have similar sizes to the smartphone, then why would people with visually impaired choose them instead of magnifying apps on their phones? The answer is comprehensively about the specific needs of particular groups. These handheld low vision aids might be the perfect choice for those seniors or children who have visual impairments as some seniors may not be able to follow the rapid development of smartphones and children may be struggling with the use of smart devices. In this case, a handheld video magnifier is the best gift for their eyes. Of course, for lag-free, better image quality, easier use and writing purpose, professional video magnifiers absolutely is the winner in the battle.

Which One to Choose?

There is no doubt that magnifying apps and video magnifiers are contributing to making a better life for people with vision loss. It’s usual that visually impaired persons use both a magnifying app and a video magnifier at the same time. Thus, to choose between these two types, it would depend on the specific needs and eye conditions of the users.

As magnifying apps need to be downloaded on smartphones to use and the screen of a smartphone is limited, so they might more suitable for people with moderate eyesight loss, or low vision people who only need to use the magnifying apps for simpler purposes. On the contrary, low vision aids like electronic video magnifiers can satisfy more demands due to their abundant functions. Also, as it’s mentioned above, video magnifiers can also be useful for seniors and children who have vision loss. The physical buttons on the devices can always bring a more real experience than the touchscreen function of smartphones. It’s actually important for most low vision people.

magnifying apps vs video magnifiers

To sum up, at least for now, video magnifiers can hardly be replaced by magnifying apps. The development of video magnifiers tends to be more mature than magnifying apps, and they are often more professional to offer better experiences and advanced functions to satisfy the users. Maybe it’s a good idea to use both of them at the same time if you have the budget, most of the low-vision people. But for especially the severe visual impaired people, video magnifiers are always indispensable and the final choice for their everyday life.

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