Humanware Explore 7 Electronic Magnifier Review

Humanware Explore 7 electronic magnifier

My verdict… The Humanware Explore 7 electronic magnifier is:

  • a great quality product by a reputable brand,
  • suitable for people with mild to moderate vision loss,
  • who want a large screen for easier reading,
  • with portability.

It is NOT suitable for:

Humanware Explore 7 electronic magnifier on small print newspaper

Buy Humanware explore digital magnifier from AmazonDetailed Review

The Explore 7 is a digital magnifier that has a magnification range from 2.3X-19X. As an electronic magnifier, it is a huge step above using a magnifying glass with light, as it displays magnified content on a big screen. Standard magnifying glasses of a comparable magnification (20X) are very, very small in comparison – probably about 1″ in diameter of usable lens in a circular shape. The Explore 7, however, provides a very large, rectangular 7″ screen. This makes reading much easier as you can see more words on the screen at once. Then you can better follow the meaning of a whole sentence as you read it.

Another benefit this magnifier is that you can adjust the color of what you’re reading. The most popular way of doing this is to increase the contrast with very dark black writing on a bright white background. Some people like to reverse the colors, so they’re reading white writing on black background. This works particularly well for people who have issues with glare. There are more than 12 color/contrast combinations available on the Explore 7, and different combinations will suit different users depending on their vision condition. The color you choose can also depend on the color of the writing or object you’re looking at. Do you find it frustrating when a magazine has tried to get fancy with their formatting and has a pale color writing on another color background? With this color changing feature, you can still view this in black and white. Adjust the color selection with the press of a button, and your setting preferences are saved when you power off.

The large tactile buttons are easy for visually impaired people to feel and easy to learn to use. Thankfully, it doesn’t have too many buttons, so it doesn’t confuse older people who aren’t familiar with technology. When the device is held with two hands, fingers around the back and thumbs at the front, the buttons are easily controlled with your two thumbs. Use your hands to move the device around the page as you read.

A quality product from a quality brand…

This  is a quality product by Humanware – a well-known and long established brand name in the low vision and blindness industry. As well as being made of good materials, there is also quality behind the R&D that goes into these products. This results in products that are easy to use and suits the low vision (often elderly) people who want to use them. Humanware has been around for more than 25 years, so there is a lot of experience behind them, and they have a good reputation to uphold. Their R&D and the production of the equipment happens in Canada.

Quality is an important factor to consider when you buy an electronic magnifier. On paper it may seem that two magnifiers are equal based on their specifications alone, but when you actually use them, it is obvious that there is a difference. The better quality products, such as this one, have a better quality image on the screen. This is particularly important for those users who have trouble with their vision at the best of times!! Some cheaper models have visual distortion in the screen, such as blurriness around the edges, which just makes matters worse. This model has a clear, high definition, LCD screen which makes reading magnified small print much easier. The anti-glare feature ensures it can be used well in different lighting conditions.

Size…

Humanware has three digital magnifiers in its Explore range. They have a smaller 3″ magnifier, a medium sized 5″ magnifier, and this large  7″ model .

The 7″ screen is a very popular choice, for those who can afford it, as it makes reading much easier when you can see more words on the screen. At the same time, it is still a portable size that can comfortably fit in a bag. The Explore 7 is slightly smaller and lighter than other brands of digital magnifiers with a 7″ size screen.

Features…

There is a built in stand which makes the equipment stand upright on your page as you read. This holds it at the right height for it to focus well, and saves you from having to hold it up. It also keeps the screen up at a good, diagonal angle from the page which provides a more ergonomic position for reading. Some cheaper digital magnifiers don’t display the screen up on an angle and just sit flat on the table. With those you have to lean right over them to view correctly which isn’t good for your neck or posture. The Explore 7 provides a comfortable reading position.

One clever feature of this digital magnifier is that it has a distance viewing mode. You can use this to zoom in on things that are further away – such as a product on a high shelf or a street sign.

Another clever feature is the ability to freeze-frame an image. This is useful for taking a temporary image of something like a phone number, then carrying it with you to another room to make the phone call.

There is no handle on the Explore 7 as it would be too big and heavy to hold a magnifier of this size for too long. It you want a model with a handle try the 5″ Explore digital magnifier instead.

You can even plug the Explore into a TV or computer screen via a cable to see the video image taken from the Explore on the TV. This allows you to magnify what you’re reading even more as you can look at it on a much bigger screen.

The device is powered by a built in, rechargeable, lithium battery, which is charged by plugging it into mains power. It takes 4-5 hours to fully recharge. The battery is long-lasting and provides 3-4 hours of continuous use. Usually, though, people are using equipment for small tasks, rather than for several hours at a time. So the battery life is usually more than enough. It is helped by a power saving feature which automatically switches it off after 3 minutes of inactivity.

It comes with a cleaning cloth and a sturdy case to protect it when you’re on the go.

Weight: < 440g
Dimension: 195mm x 139.5mm x 25mm

This product is available to buy online from Amazon with FREE delivery.Buy Humanware explore 7 video magnifier from Amazon

Summary

The Humanware Explore 7 electronic magnifier is a great quality product by a reputable brand. It is suitable for people with mild to moderate vision loss who want a large screen for easier reading and also have portability.

 

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Electronic magnifying glasses vs electronic magnifiers

Digital magnifier with large font

When people come to me asking about electronic magnifying glasses they usually mean one of two things:

  1. A battery operated magnifying glass with light; or
  2. An electronic magnifier.

While both these products are used to help people with low vision to read, there are big differences between the two categories. So I’d like to explain how they compare.

Battery operated magnifying glasses

Battery operated magnifying glass with set of 3 lensesThese look and feel like ordinary magnifying glasses. They magnify an image by using a concave piece of glass or perspex which distorts light to make the viewed object look bigger.

Battery operated ones are one step better than regular magnifying glasses, however, because they have a light source built into them. This means that as you hold the magnifying glass over your reading material the magnifier itself shines a bright light on what you’re looking at. This makes the effect of the magnification much clearer.

The built in light reduces or eliminates the need for extra lamps or lighting in the room when you’re reading. This is very handy as you don’t have to keep moving around to find a good light source.

For example, lets say you picked up a packet of food in your pantry and want to read its label. If you didn’t have a magnifying glass with light in it you would have to carry that packet of food over to a brighter area of your kitchen such as near a window or lamp.

Battery operated magnifying glasses are fairly economical. They range between about $5 and $100 depending on the quality, size, material, brand, strength etc.

The effective strength of these magnifying glasses ranges between 1.5x and about 20x. This is suitable for people with mild vision loss. They won’t be strong enough for people with moderate to severe vision loss, such as those with advanced macular degeneration or glaucoma.

If this suits your needs then you can find my recommended models of lighted magnifying glasses on this page.

 

Electronic magnifier

Humanware handheld electronic magnifier on stand reading small print in newspaperElectronic magnifiers are a lot more powerful than battery operated magnifying glasses. They don’t just use glass to distort light – they use a combination of video and software to enhance the image to a much greater extent. This allows the magnification to be much higher – up to 80x on some models. Therefore this is what would be required by someone with moderate vision loss or a more severe vision impairment.

These magnifiers also have other special features, such as being able to increase the contrast, change the colors, and magnify distance viewing. Some models can even read aloud printed material.

Many people assume because these use electronics they must be confusing – like using a computer or mobile tablet – but that’s not the case. This equipment is designed for elderly people with low vision to use, so they are quite straight forward with just a few buttons on them that are big and tactile.

Electronic magnifiers are also known as digital magnifiers, video magnifiers or low vision cctvs.

They come in different sizes – from handheld versions to big 24″ screens that sit on a desk or table.

One of the biggest differences is the price. These range from a couple of hundred dollars for the cheapest electronic magnifier to a few thousand for the best electronic magnifier with speech. While the price is much higher than the magnifying glasses, there isn’t really a fair comparison, because the 2 categories are for different groups of people. The former is for mild vision loss and the latter is for moderate vision loss. People with moderate vision loss are usually very happy that they spent the money to buy an electronic magnifier because it gives them back some of their independence by allowing them to read again.

If this is what you’re after then you can find my recommended models of electronic magnifiers on this page.

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How to choose a powerful magnifying glass

Powerful magnifying glass with light

A powerful magnifier displaying very large writing.The most powerful magnifying glasses for the visually impaired are digital magnifiers (aka video magnifiers, electronic magnifiers, or low vision cctvs). These can magnify up to 80 times (80X), and prices start from $300.

You can learn more about digital magnifiers here.

If you want to stick to a non-electronic version of a magnifying glass, magnification levels can go up to around 30X. However, at this strength, the lens will be VERY small and tiresome to use. See below for an explanation of why.

 

How can you tell how strong a powerful magnifying glass is?

Magnifying glasses usually have written on the handle, and on the packaging they come in, a number with the letter X next to it. eg, 2X, 5X, 10X,  30X, 70X etc

This number tells you the amount of times a magnifier enlarges the subject matter. eg: “2X” enlarges it to twice its size; “20X” enlarges it to twenty times the size.

 

What determines the strength of a magnifying glass?

Powerful magnifying glass with light

Magnification strength or ‘power’ is determined by the level of curvature of the lens. A stronger magnification level needs a more steeply curved piece of glass or plastic.

Hence, the rule of thumb is – the stronger the magnification, the smaller the lens must be.

This is why powerful magnifying glasses with 30X magnification have a very small circular lens.

When reading with one of these, you can only see a couple of letters at a time.

Many people find this makes reading very slow and tedious. Often they’ve forgotten the first half of a sentence by the time they reach the end of the sentence!

The solution to this is to get an electronic magnifier, because then you can have both strong magnification and a larger view.

 

What strength magnifying glass do I need?

This will depend on your level of vision, as well as what you are viewing at the time. The same person would need a more powerful magnifier for reading small print than for reading large print writing.

As a general guide:

  • 2X – 10X magnification is for mild vision loss.
  • 5X – 20X magnification is for moderate vision loss.
  • 20X – 80X magnification is for severe vision loss.

You might like to have more than one magnifier to cover different tasks. For example you might find a 5X hand-held magnifier would be enough for everyday reading but need a more powerful 12X lighted magnifying glass for fine print or food labels.

 

What makes electronic magnifiers more powerful than magnifying glasses?

Electronic magnifiers are not limited by the physics of light bending through glass or perspex.

They work by directing a video camera at an item of interest, and displaying the live camera image on a large screen.

The better the quality of the camera, the screen and the software that’s running it all, the better the quality of the resulting image. This is what allows them to magnify up to 80X.

Some electronic magnifiers have other abilities too! Such as being able to change the color of the font, or even being able to read aloud the text it’s displaying.

 

Who would benefit from an electronic magnifier?

People who have severe vision impairments will need to use a digital magnifier, as regular magnifying glasses do not increase the size enough.

If selecting one for an elderly person, or someone who isn’t familiar with technology, go for one with minimal buttons. You don’t need extra fancy features. However, quality does make a difference. The better the quality of the device the better the result when it’s magnified.

 

What next?

If you have mild vision loss –

If you have moderate vision loss

  • and you are on a budget, select a more powerful magnifying glass with a light and around 10-20X in strength.
  • If you can afford it go for a digital magnifier as this will provide a much more effective, satisfying and pleasurable reading experience for you.

If you have severe vision loss –

 

 

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How to choose a magnifier to give as a gift

Visually impaired senior reading to grandchild

Magnifying glasses and digital magnifiers are popular gifts for Grandma or Grandpa,  elderly parents and other loved seniors who have low vision.

It helps to give your loved one back their independence and their ability to read for pleasure or practicality.

It is a gift that’s both thoughtful and useful!

When its for Christmas or a birthday, you might want the gift to be a surprise – and you also want to make sure you get something that will provide value to the recipient. So the puzzle is in guessing which product will be best for them.

To help you solve this problem, here are my top picks for magnifiers for seniors when buying as a gift.

 

What to look for when buying a magnifying glass as a gift

Nicely wrapped present with bowIf the gift recipient has not used a magnifying glass before, or you know they only have mild vision loss,

  • then look for one of the magnifiers recommended for mild vision loss. That is, one with 2x-5x magnification.

If the gift recipient already own a magnifying glass, which is no longer working for them,

  • then they’ll need a stronger and/or brighter magnifier.
  • It is preferable to choose a magnifying glass with light built in, as they work better than non-lighted ones.
  • If you can, it would be good to find out what strength magnifying glass they are already using, to give you an idea of what strength they might need to progress to. The strength of the magnifier is usually written in small print somewhere on the handle.

If the gift recipient has moderate to severe vision loss,

  • regular magnifying glasses probably won’t be strong enough.
  • Or, the lens will be so small that it becomes tiresome to use.
  • In this case, it is time to progress to a digital magnifier, which is far more powerful and user friendly than even the strongest magnifying glass with light.

Digital magnifiers are significantly more expensive than standard magnifying glasses but they are also really valuable to people who need them. This makes them ideal gifts for someone with low vision. If you need a gift for someone with moderate to severe vision loss, but the digital magnifier costs more than you budget for, you might consider getting other family members to contribute to the cost.

 

These are my picks for the best magnifying glasses and magnifiers for seniors, for any gift giving budget.

 

 

Best magnifying glass under $20

Circular magnifier

MagnifyLabs Oversized 5 Inch Magnifying Glass

  • As simple as it gets! This 5″ circular lens is easy to use and provides 3x magnification.
  • Suitable for a someone with mild vision loss.
  • Durable, and has a money-back guarantee so if it doesn’t suit as a gift you can return it.
  • You can buy it online here.

 

Best magnifying glass under $30

Set of magnifiers as a gift for a low vision person

Magnifying Glass with LED Light and Interchangeable Heads

  • This set comes with 3 interchangeable heads – 2.5x, 5x and 16x lenses.
  • There’s a good chance that one or more of the magnification levels will suit the recipient!
  • Great as a gift for someone with mild to moderate vision loss.
  • Use different sizes for different sized print and different tasks
  • Comes with bonus credit card sized magnifier, carry bag and cleaning cloth.
  • This is a lighted magnifying glass which provides better results.
  • Money back satisfaction guarantee, so can return if unsuitable.
  • Able to buy online and have it delivered to you.

 

 

Best magnifying glass under $100

Magnifying glass by EschenbachEschenbach Mobilux Pocket LED Illuminated Magnifier

  • Eschenbach is a top quality brand.
  • If you want to get someone a quality magnifying glass that’s a bit nicer than usual, go for this.
  • The model pictured provides 3.5x magnification but other strengths are also available.
  • The model pictured is a rectangle shape, which is frequently requested by users.
  • High quality, German made magnifying glass with LED lights built in.
  • You can buy online and have it delivered to you.

 

Best digital magnifier under $1000

Humanware portable handheld electronic magnifier

HumanWare Explore 5 Handheld Electronic Magnifier

  • Great for moderate vision loss. Magnifies from 2x-22x.
  • Large 5″ screen for comfortable viewing.
  • Bright, LCD screen to provide high contrast. Also has 18 enhancement modes with different color combinations.
  • Handle. Great for viewing 3D objects such as at the shops or kitchen.
  • Inbuilt stand for table top reading. This tilts the screen to an angle so it’s more comfortable to read.
  • You can buy online and have it delivered to you

The ULTIMATE Magnifier Gift

Electronic reading magnifiers for visually impaired would be a great Christmas present
GoVision – 24″ LCD Auto Focus Electronic Magnifier

  • A huge 24″ High Definition LCD monitor for quality large images.
  • Makes reading enjoyable again for those who find handheld magnifiers insufficient or tedious.
  • Approx 1.7x to 83x magnification
  • See a whole photo large on the screen instead of only a small part at a time.
  • Hands free – great for writing, crafts or crosswords.
  • Full color mode as well as enhanced contrast options in various colors
  • Self view mode for personal grooming, makeup, shaving, etc
  • OCR – Scan and Read Software – to have printed material read aloud
  • Able to buy online and have delivered to you

 

 

 

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Top 5 magnifying glasses with light

Powerful magnifying glass with light

Best magnifying glasses with lightMagnifying glasses with light built into them give much better results than non-lighted ones.

It doesn’t cost much more to get one with a light built in, so this is a feature you should definitely look for!

Some people with slight vision loss find that if they use really good, bright light they don’t need a magnifying glass at all. See here for recommended lamps for low vision.

If bright light alone is no longer enough to help you read, then you’ll need to try a magnifying glass with a light.

 

Why use a lighted magnifier?

When a light is built in to the device you don’t have to worry about physically moving to a brighter location to read. If you use a magnifying glass without a light, then even if you are in a bright room, the magnifying glass itself and your hand cast a shadow over your reading material.

When the magnifying glass has it’s own light, this shines directly on your reading material making it easier for you to read.

 

What is the strongest lighted magnifier?

The ABSOLUTE STRONGEST and BRIGHTEST magnification for visually impaired users are digital magnifiers. However these cost a lot more than handheld magnifying glasses with light. If that’s what you’re after, head over to this page on electronic magnifiers for more information.

This article covers the best optical magnifiers with light, which are more suited to people with mild to moderate vision loss.

 

What powers lighted magnifying glasses?

They are powered with AA or AAA batteries that need to be replaced from time to time.

 

My top 5 picks of lighted magnifying glasses

These top picks all have LED lights.

I’ve categorized them in 3 ways

  • cheapest for mild vision loss
  • best quality for mild vision loss
  • best for moderate vision loss

 

CHEAPEST lighted magnifying glasses for mild vision loss

These 2 options come in a set, so you’re getting 3 in 1! These great value bundles are best suited to people who are first starting to need a magnifying glass. They provide relatively low levels of magnification so aren’t suitable for people who need high strength magnifiers.

 

Magnifying Glass with LED Light and Interchangeable Illuminated Heads

  • Interchangeable illuminated heads
  • 2.5x, 5x and 16x lenses
  • Use different sizes for different sized print and different tasks
  • Bonus credit card sized magnifier, carry bag and cleaning cloth
  • Requires 3 standard AAA batteries
  • Money back satisfaction guarantee
  • Economic magnifying glass bundle with 3 in 1
  • Able to buy online and have it delivered to you.

 

 

Fancii Illuminated LED Handheld Magnifying Glass Set

  • Interchangeable illuminated heads
  • 2x, 3.5x and 10x lenses
  • Use different sizes for different sized print and different tasks
  • Money back satisfaction guarantee
  • Economic magnifying glass bundle with 3 in 1
  • Quality glass lens
  • Able to buy online and have it delivered to you.

 

 

Best quality lighted magnifying glasses for mild vision loss

Eschenbach is a top of the line brand name. They make high quality, German made magnifying glasses. This is the brand recommended by optometrists. They cost more but is definitely better quality than the budget versions.

If you only need a small amount of magnification go for the 3.5x option, and if you need a higher level of magnification go for the 10x option.

 

Eschenbach Mobilux Pocket LED Illuminated Magnifer – Eschenbach 3.5x

 

 

Eschenbach Mobilux LED 38D 10x

 

 

Best magnifying glass with light for moderate vision loss

This option provides 20x magnification with 12 LED lights. It’s about as strong as you can get in a lighted magnifying glass while still being a practical size. If you need stronger magnification than this, you’ll need to get a digital magnifier.

 

AboveTEK Handheld 4.2-Inch 20X Magnifying Loupe with 12 LED Lights (ATM-105L)

  • 20x magnification
  • very bright with 12 LED lights
  • 4.2″ diameter lens
  • 8″ length
  • durable, scratch and shatter resistant acrylic lens
  • Requires 2 AA batteries
  • Able to buy online and have it delivered to you.

 

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