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Review: a closer look at magification aids

George Christou is the Joseph Clarke Services I.T. Manager for Visually impaired students. As part of his role he frequently trials specialist hardware and software from manufacturers for training purposes and to evaluate its suitability for the students the service works with. Here he looks at two products that have recently landed on his desk, which have similar aims, if very different price tags.

Top of the range: i-loview 7HD

£845.00 (£1014.00 inc. VAT) 

The i-loview can also reverse the image to display text as white on black.
The i-loview can also reverse the image to display text as white on black. 


The i-loview 7 HD is a versatile high definition video magnifier which can be used for both close-up work and and distance viewing

I like this product for its versatility: The user can switch between close proximity and distant modes and magnification can be set from anywhere between 1.8x and 50x. As a result students can use it to to view their text books, or a school white board. Since it has a built-in stand they can also use it to view their handwriting. But it can also be used to capture the image on the interactive white board and either freeze the image or save it.

The product is very light and has a nice feel to it resembling a portable games console and can be used in school and at home. It has bright orange buttons, a long battery life (over 4 hours) and HD level image quality with a clear and crisp image with the option to change the colour mode and store your personal changes.

A built-in HDMI out socket allows you to connect the i-loview to a computer monitor and images can also be exported and imported to and from other devices making this a very practical low vision aid. 

I would recommend this product due to its simplicity functionality, light weight easy carriage and school bag storage options.

Budget: ‘Brighter and Bigger’

Free for Android and iOS devices

Brighter and Bigger is free and runs on both iOS and Android devices.
Brighter and Bigger is free and runs on both iOS and Android devices.

At the other end of the price scale, "Brighter and Bigger" is a fantastic and really easy to use reading magnification application for iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices. This free app is designed for students who have difficulty reading fine print and focusing on nearby objects  by making the images bigger, brighter and clearer. Built into the free application are "Brightness Reverse" mode and "Monochrome" modes suitable for people with low vision.

I particularly like the "Tilted Angle Correction" mode, which can revise the distortion of images when objects are seen from a tilted angle – brilliant and so simple.

Maximum magnification of up to 20 times is supported so that you can use this tool as a monocle when you would like to see distant objects even if blurred.    

Main functions include:

  • Freeze Button – freeze images to let the student time to read or copy the information. 
  • Brightness Reverse Button –  a black letter on white background is changed to a white letter on black background.
  • Image Save Button –  stores a displayed image to the "Photo Album". 
  • Tilted Angle Correction Button – you can change the "Degree of Tilted Angle Correction" parameter by pinching the bottom of the screen or by using the "Degree of Tilted Angle Correction' slider in the Settings screen. 

Brighter and Bigger is available for free download from the Google Play store for Android or the iTunes Store for iOS.