Kapten Plus: Preliminary Thoughts

Hi y’all,

I’m sure that some of y’all can probably correct some initial misconceptions if they exist, but here are my preliminary impressions of Kapten Plus.

1) Size: Wow, this thing really is tiny! And, for its size, the speaker really isn’t bad. I want to try it in noisy traffic situations, but I don’t anticipate it being a problem. It clips nicely to the GPS’ lanyard as someone here suggests, lose to your ears, or close enough anyway, to be clearly audible.

2) Wow, yes, that song is…interesting. I did a reset on it to see if I could, but it played for some reason some other times. Right after disconnecting from the computer once. I got the firmware update, but otherwise, the PC software doesn’t seem very accessible, more on software in a minute.

3) I’d really like to see ways to get more of the voice commands from the keypad, say, with a menu button. Sometimes, I would think a noisy environment would make voice recognition difficult. Say, a long press of the play button to bring up a status menu, for instance, or a long press of the FM or MP3 buttons. Maybe those would be a better choice.

4) It seems to me that the power of having points of interest in the device (those not associated with a K-tag, I mean) is under utilized. I’d like to see more verbose free navigation mode that tells you about POI’s as you pass them, or with a long button press, bring up a list of the several nearest POI’s. Even better if a route to one could be set up on the fly. While having upcoming intersections spoken is great, I think more could be done here with POI’s.

5) Satellite acqisition sometimes takes a while. On walking Alena to school, from turning it on in the house, I think it was a good five minutes before i got a signal. Which of course meant I was at Alena’s school. It also had me on the wrong sidewalk (right instead of left), and in one case tole me I was going down the wrong street, but after a couple minutes of that, it got itself straightened out and all was well the rest of the way home.

6) As I said, it’s tiny, and very light. No problem wearing it with the speaker. The voice commands seem to work nicely, but I’ve not been in noisy environs yet. And I can’t always remember the keywords.

7) Documentation: The Leader tutorial says it’s basic, but that they reckon it will take three days to go through the whole audio CD worth of tutorial and get the hang of everything. Three days? Really? A few hours, maybe, but not three days. The documentation, in either form, isn’t *that* exhaustive. Since they made an audio CD, I think read by a human would have been nice, but this version of Samantha isn’t half bad. She doesn’t sound nearly as grumpy as she usually does.

8) Software: the Windows software didn’t seem very accessible, just at first blush, but I didn’t take much time with it. The Mac software is a little weird. It seems very accessible, but some controls aren’t visible unless you tab to them, and in those cases, you can’t use Voiceover keys to read what surrounds them or anything like that. Also, I still only see maps for sale for European countries; I can’t seem to buy Canadian maps. Which reminds me. I’d probably better back up the US maps in case there’s a problem, because they aren’t available for download, far as I can tell, and the box didn’t come with them on any sort of backup media, i.e. DVD or CD.

9) OK, this is a dumb criticism, but… “Rise and shine”, and “I’m so tired”? I guess it’s supposed to be cute, but it just sounds kind of cutesy and, well, dorky to me. What’s the matter with “Ready” and “Shuting down” or something?

It may sound like I have nothing but complaints, but really, for $300, this is quite the buy. I really do like it over all, even though I see room for improvement. I do believe that at this price point, the Kapten Plus can do a lot for a lot of blind people, and I’m all for that.

I plan to take it for a real walk soon, as well as recording a review podcast about it. Watch this space.