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AEBC Telecommunications (CRTC) Committee Review of Bell's DORO 824C Cellular Phone

The AEBC Telecommunications (CRTC) Committee is pleased to share a detailed review of the DORO 824C Bell phone carried out by Ronald Pelletier, an active member in the Greater Montreal Chapter.

Ron’s report is detailed and offers an important perspective.

The phone is still under development and will no doubt add features and improvements.

Bell’s willingness to work with us by providing a phone for an extensive evaluation underlines Bell’s commitment to accessibility.

I urge members to read Ron’s evaluation, below.

I thank Ron for his detailed work on this project.

Leo A. Bissonnette, Ph.D.


DORO 824C FROM BELL (Evaluated by Ron Pelletier)

NOTE: This evaluation was made from the perspective of a totally blind person. It does not take into account some additional possibilities that could be offered to someone with some functional vision.

Let’s begin by receiving the phone and getting started. I am very disappointed that a severely visually impaired or blind person cannot get going on their own. I can understand that some people purchasing their phone from a Bell store will have the sim card and the battery installed. It should be possible for a blind person to do this independently even when receiving the phone in the mail. Better, more explicit “Getting started” instructions are needed. Those blind people who don’t feel comfortable with doing this on their own will know it and ask for assistance.

At first look, the phone feels quite a bit larger that it needs to be. The overlay is bulky and very limiting. I feel that, having no alpha-numeric keypad to work with is going far back in time. The principle of using a numeric keypad to enter text is archaic. Having to use only the very tip of the finger to enter text is also very limiting. Some practice helps but it is still extremely slow and very confusing to listen to all these letters being pronounced and trying to figure out when to stop. I find that, even with several days of practice, I’m still having to interrupt my writing to go back and correct the last letter entered which causes confusion and much frustration. I find that The power button is in a very bad position since it can be pushed by mistake at any time when the phone is held in the left hand which is the case for most right handed persons.

Having established that:

PHONE AND VOICE MAIL

The fact that the phone app is completely menu driven makes it very simple to learn and also very easy to use. Menu options like: “Create new contact, edit, delete, call” make it very simple and efficient. Answering and hanging up are made very simple to the new user simply by pressing the “OK” to answer and the “back” to hang-up. Dealing with call waiting was not tested.
Contacts:

Creating, editing and deleting contacts is very easy. Also, the fact that sending a message and sending an e-mail can be done from the phone menu is very practical. There is also a feature to sort contacts from the phone menu. Adding fields for each contact is simple. The only drawback is the method of entering text.

CALL LOG

The call log is very straight forward and simple.

VOICE MAIL

Voice mail, with a little practice is easy to use and very accessible. I just find the switching to speaker a little sluggish.

MESSAGING

The menus for messaging are very self-explanatory. All aspects of message sending are very easy although they require a lot of navigating. Entering text is slow at best and voice recognition works well but is also very time consuming. I have not been able to test voice recognition with any significant background noise. One aspect of voice recognition I like is that it presents several choices as to what it might have heard and the sender can select the best one. I’m disappointed in the fact that voice recognition does not recognize punctuation and new line dictation. Good for novices but limited.

E-MAIL

The e-mail app is quite straight forward with all its menus. Of course, there is a learning curve but that is normal. Again, no matter what, it’s a slow process to have to go through all the menus but it is very accurate and a little patience goes a long way. The fact that a sequence of numbers can go from one menu to another faster is interesting but I do not favour memorizing sequences because, if one of the numbers being entered is not accepted, the user ends up completely in the wrong place and becomes lost. The dictation, of course, is the same here as other apps and does not permit entering new lines or punctuation. If one want to insert these things, it seems to me like they have to enter a portion of a sentence, add the comma and space manually and dictate the next portion and then manually insert the period. To me, that is poor performance and needs much improvement. Next, due to the frustration of trying to enter text, I decided to pair a blue tooth keyboard to see how that would work. I tried to pair my HP keyboard and got it paired but it wouldn’t connect. Then I tried my Apple blue tooth keyboard and paired and connected easily. I thought I had it made but I soon realized that the Doro software is not able to echo the characters entered on the blue tooth keyboard. For me, that is a deal breaker.

VISION AIDS

OCR

When I first tried the OCR with a grocery list of mine printed on a letter size sheet of paper in a simple font, I was very impressed. Well, I must have been extremely lucky because I was never able to scan it again free hand trying dozens of times. I then tested a one page letter printed on my laser printer in a very simple font on pure white paper. I have to say the result of this attempt was disastrous in free hand scanning. I then used my StandScan Pro and found that I could get acceptable results with several mistakes but readable as long as I was willing to wait 40 to 50 seconds for recognition. I do think that much practice could give me some mediocre results in free hand since there are no alignment features but I would not want to even try to use it without a stand.

Colour Detector

Like most colour detectors on smart phones, this one is very inaccurate at best and not reliable. I have not found yet a colour detector that I can count on.

Light Detector

The light detector is good and very practical for people who are totally blind. Easy to get to and operate.

Camera

The only use I made of the camera was to test the OCR and not actually for taking pictures.

CLOCK

Alarm

The Alarms are easy to set, turn on or off and delete permanently.

Timer

Fields a very well defined which makes it easy to set the number of minutes and seconds. A selection menu also makes it very easy to select a ring tone. A simple selection touch to turn on, pause and turn off. Very practical for cooking and all other tasks that require timing.

Stop watch

The stop watch is very easy to start, pause, reset and eventually stop completely. It announces the minutes and seconds in one hundreds of a second.

GPS

I tried the GPS app and was not impressed at all. There are 2 ways of having progress announced and the first one is “distance to destination” and the other is “location”. In the case of the first, the distance is announced in meters if set to metric and is announced about every 15 or 20 meters. I find it disturbing to have to listen to the app telling me how many meters to destination every half minute or so and not having the cross streets announced. In the second setting of “location” it’s a bit better but still with annoying announcements. About every half minute, the address of location is announced with the postal code and the fact that you are in Canada. Too much information that I don’t need. In this mode, I have to say that when you come to a cross street, the address at the corner of that street is announced so you get to know what street you are at. In my case, on all routes, I got to find that out but only after I had crossed the street. A little late if I wanted to turn before crossing. In the test I made, I knew where I was going and realized that I was there quite a bit before it told me I had arrived at destination. This happened on more than one route.

This app can be useful for the person who wants to enter a starting point and destination address with voice, select walking mode or motorized and get numbered text instructions as a result. Routes can be saved for future consultation. I find it very distracting to listen to all that excessive amount of information while travelling. Again, it’s a question of personal need.

CALENDAR

It is very easy to create a new event, edit it or delete it. The form presented to create a new event is very practical, especially for the new user. The option to go to a date far in the future is very practical. Although a bit slow, it is a very nice feature. I like the way the down arrow goes sequentially from event to event and a simple call of the options menu allows to perform any action on the selected event.

CALCULATOR

The calculator is a very basic one meant to do the 4 basic operations of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. The presence of the parenthesis and the percent sign make it more interesting for some more but very basic operations. I did not find a clear button and had to backspace delete to erase operations. Having to press the same button up to 4 times very accurately is something I am not impressed with. If the slightest hesitation happens between presses, the wrong operation is entered. I am assuming that lots and lots of practice can make someone more accurate with the entering of numbers and operations but its not ideal.

WEATHER

Weather is basic but very easy to operate. It offers a default of the city you are in or, through the menu, a possibility of entering a city name and then selecting the exact one from the suggestions. It offers also the possibility of switching easily from Imperial to Metric values. Simple but nice.

VOICE MEMOS

This feature, very easy to operate, is most welcome for on the fly notes, especially when it is not practical to write a note because of the long time it takes to do so. A note is quickly recorded, there is a possibility to give the note a custom name or for expediency, just accept the suggested name for the note which is the date and time of its recording. Notes are also easy to delete through the options menu. The quality of the recording is not great but it serves the purpose.

NOTES

Again, notes are easy to create. The notes options menu is simple and straight forward. Not practical when on the road because of how slow it is to input text. Not practical at home either because the characters entered on the blue tooth keyboard are not echoed.

FILES MANAGER

The files manager is quite straight forward. Of course, one must be familiar with navigating files and folders. In this case, its just a question of moving from file to file, folder to folder with arrow keys and using the OK to launch the file. The options menu is very clear and offers possibilities to cut, copy and paste files from directory to directory, rename a file or directory or delete a file and also the possibility to create a new directory. Of course, here, the word directory is the same as folder.

MULTIMEDIA

MP3

I did not test purchasing music and downloading it to the phone but I did copy to the music folder some MP3 albums I had on my computer. Easy to navigate and play the requested albums. Of course, this operation assumes that the user is comfortable with copying music to the phone. The menu gives the option to repeat, Shuffle and get track information. There is an option called “sound out of player” which didn’t seem to do anything and I didn’t pursue it any further. When raising the volume level to a certain point a warning tells the user that prolonged listening music at such levels can cause permanent ear damage. Not sure if anyone would pay attention but, the warning is there.

Book Reader

This book reader is very easy to handle. I downloaded the guide for the phone and was able to navigate chapter by chapter and listen to the book. I also copied a Bookshare book for testing purposes. The book reader handled it very well. Touching the screen pauses and re-starts the reading while the menu allows to start reading from the beginning and also start reading from the last point. The book reader menu makes it very easy to navigate minute by minute, 5 minutes by 5 minutes, 30 minutes by 30 minutes and navigate by file. I was able to set bookmarks and go back to a list of them. The menu also allows to change the reading speed. All in all, it’s a very interesting app.

News

This app is quite interesting and easy to get the latest news from as long as you are happy with 4 newspapers in English Canada. If you live in Toronto Vancouver or Calgary you are lucky. If you live in Montreal, you are out of luck with the Montreal Gazette. If in Montreal and French speaking, you are in luck because the news app includes both La Presse and Le Journal de Montréal. Since the Doro is exclusive to Bell in Canada, I wonder why there are more US newspapers offered than Canadian ones. I just wonder if other cities and newspapers will be added in a not too distant future.

Radio

When I tried to get into the radio app, I was told: “This is not possible, no stations” and did not pursue it any further at this time. I’m sure there is a way to find and favorite some radio stations but a beginner would require some assistance in doing that.

Browser

Due to the fact that a browser is always quite involved and depends very much on the user, I did not spend hours and hours figuring out all the features of this particular browser. It is straight forward, menu driven and self-explanatory. Like any other browser it will require lots of practice to navigate the web in a satisfactory and accessible way. Here the accessibility depends on the web and not on the browser.

ANDROID APPLICATIONS

From here, the user can leave the Doro accessibility and go into the Android platform using the TalkBack voice. It appears to give a choice of 47 apps that are present on the phone at time of purchase since I didn’t purchase any. I am assuming that lots more apps can be purchased and installed on the phone. This is a totally different ball game and outside the scope of this evaluation. This has a much more pronounced learning curve and would be a lot more appropriate for the advanced user.

SETTINGS

The settings are simple to understand and easy to change as they are all in a menu format. Perhaps a beginner would need some advice as to how to setup the phone for their own particular situation. I would not activate the power button to hang-up calls since I find the power button in a very bad place and calls could easily be hung-up accidentally.

CONCLUSION

I would not hesitate to recommend the Doro 824C for use by the blind or visually impaired person with basic needs and who is not worried about speed of operation. On the other hand, I would not recommend the Doro 824C to the blind or visually impaired professional who has to keep up with the very fast pace of today’s markets and very quickly changing technology. I feel that the Doro software was created for its ease of operation by the beginner and not for the blind or visually impaired power user.

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.