This will be a very unusual review. I propose to return to one of the hits of 2013. the Lenovo P780 4GB smartphone. and look at it from a new, unusual for most side. In this review, there will be no screenshots, colorful photos, performance characteristics, and everything else that does not matter for a visually impaired user. At least at the first stage of acquaintance with a touch smartphone.
For many blind people, switching from dying button devices to a sensor is a difficult question, I would even say a turning point. Nokia’s usual Symbian phones for years are obsolete and almost gone. An alternative is only a sensor, which in the hands of a blind person makes you change habits and the philosophy of interacting with a gadget. At some stage, I realized that I was not ready to wait any longer for a modern functional push-button device to come to the market, which was completely accessible to me. I’ll tell you what I attracted, helped or prevented in this my first touchscreen smartphone.
It is hoped that my observations will fall into the hands of the manufacturer, so that engineers and programmers look at their work through the eyes of a blind person.
So, the Lenovo P780 with four gigabytes of internal memory and factory firmware on board fell into my hands. The reasons why I pecked at this model do not differ from those of other users. A powerful four-thousandth battery for the blind. this, believe me, is a very strong “for”, a guarantee of confidence and stability, the ability to use the phone and a bunch of useful programs without troubles to turn off GPS, wlan, Bluetooth and unnecessary applications. Every day, an hour and a half conversations, an hour of music, half an hour of social networks and Youtube, twelve hours of radio (I fall asleep under it and constantly listen to it in transport). In this operating mode, the smart lives for three days without any savings.
I’ll also take a fairly powerful processor here, after which I don’t feel like picking up the old Nokia E52 anymore, and a frisky GPS module, which is extremely useful for confident navigation for the blind. Two SIM card slots also mattered.
There were some doubts about the five-inch screen, which initially seemed a bit big for my modest purposes. But, as it turned out, the size turned out to be an advantage in the tactile perception of buttons, shortcuts, widgets and text with pretty thumbs. This with a peek, you can definitely get to the desired shortcut on the small display, and for blind orientation and the formation of tactile memory you need screen space.
Acquaintance by touch
The gadget leaves a feeling of owning a device of a decent level and build quality. Nothing creaks, does not hang out. Everything is brutal, understandable for my fingers and not too sophisticated in brain technology. At the same time, this is already a computer, and not a smart phone. As soon as you get used to this thought, the device becomes much more familiar.
I met opinions that the volume control swing on the right edge is somewhat inconvenient. Personally, I liked this arrangement. made right under the right-handed thumb. But the on-off button, I would not place on the right side of the upper rib, but on the left, swapping it with a headphone jack. The fact is that, for the convenience of a blind user, this button also performs the function of ending a conversation. there is such a very convenient option in the P780 settings. To reach it with the index finger of your right hand, you still need some effort. Take the smartphone in your left hand and you will understand the difference. For the lefthander on this point, it is much more convenient. Probably the most correct or compromise solution would be to place the key in the middle of the top edge.
The touch buttons “Menu”, “Home” and “Back”, to which many blind people are biased, did not cause me any difficulties. They are located at a convenient distance from each other, so that after a couple of hours the fingers accurately found them at the bottom of the screen.
Under the easy-to-open aluminum lid, everything turned out to be as clear as God’s day. No brittle holders and slots for nail training. Two SIM-cards and a memory card are located in easily palpable places, slide in and out without problems. Here, at the slot for a flash drive, there is the coveted Reset button. just in case of emergency. True, I did not immediately find it by touch.
In the tactile and mechanical aspects, I no longer have reason to complain about the P780. the device is close to ideal. The top placement of the headphone jack and the USB port covered by a dummy plug, which some users regretted, are, in my opinion, just a matter of habit.
I read about the problems of individual users with the work of the second microphone in the noise reduction system, because of which the interlocutor ceases to hear your voice. For four months of using the Lenovo P780 in working everyday mode, I really encountered this problem. But this was only in moments when he was talking in a supine position, and the apparatus was turned to the ground with his right edge. It’s funny, but when you turn on your side, taking a sitting or standing position, the problem magically disappears. The fact that the operation of microphones in some way depends on your position on the ground is almost a medical fact. The Chinese do not like to be lazy, and lazy people are not respected.
I did not find other oddities in the behavior of the gadget. Several cases of an arbitrary reboot of the device, a one-time system crash and a one-time failure to block by pressing the smartphone’s shutdown button are all from the category of hardware problems that could be reproached to the manufacturer. Still, Lenovo keeps the IBM heritage at the right height.
New habits. a new philosophy
I really liked the smart answer feature by putting the phone in my ear. In combination with the end of the conversation with the disconnect key, this gives independence from the sensor in the most common situations of an incoming call.
Hand to grab a five-inch Lenovo got used pretty quickly. But, taking the P780, I had to forget what one-handed use and dialing SMS without taking the device out of my pocket. This is the fee for the size and lack of buttons. It also required the habit of using transport during shaking, when fingers can lose contact with the screen for a split second and applications are accidentally opened.
If you are blind, and decided to switch to a sensor, get ready for a choice: either people nearby will hear everything that your gadget’s speech synthesizer reproduces, or get used to the headphones. Tricks with leaning a button smart to your ear to hear the synthesizer voice quietly tuned just for you, and physical buttons in order to set new commands will not work with the sensor. The device will respond to accidental contact with the face or ear. I use headphones, and in public places I get used to the constant regime of free hands.
Since the days of Nokia, it has become a habit to put the device in your trouser pocket with the screen facing your body, because somehow you once stumbled on the table and damaged the matrix. With the same style of wearing, the Lenovo P780 sometimes automatically wakes up from a sleeping state, apparently responding to a double tap of the sensor. So the old habit had to be abandoned.
What else will you have to get used to? For example, to a set of additional numbers during a conversation when making calls to a bank, mobile operator or taxi service. If on a push-button smartphone this was done with hardware buttons, then on the touch screen in the talk mode, a numeric keypad is additionally called up. The blind person is unlikely to be able to control it without tearing the device from his head, since at the time of the conversation the screen is usually blocked, and the unlocked one will have to be kept at a certain distance from the face to avoid uncontrolled pressing. In this case, you must hear the voice of the respondent and the speech of the synthesizer at the same time. Difficulties with this are especially sensitive without headphones in noisy places. I did not find any other way than using the free-hand mode. Probably a universal solution, a little smoothing the situation, would be a constantly open or once customizable numeric keypad on the connection screen.
But during a call in one window, it is possible to turn on the recording of the conversation on the recorder, use the hold, dial the third party, switch between headset and speakerphone modes. In general, it is a matter of changing habits.
Right out of the box, the Lenovo P780, like most other Android smartphones, is programmatically inaccessible to the blind, since the Talk Back screen reader from Android is not preinstalled. Apparently, the manufacturer at this stage in the development of its software shell does not consider this direction a priority. Nothing. his time will come. For example, Samsung and Nexus have already realized this.
Video: How to Disable Speech Synthesizer On Huawei
The problem of accessibility out of the box can only be solved with the help of a sighted assistant. You need to log in to Google (you will need a Gmail inbox) and then download the program for free on the Play Market. After installing Talk Back, the smartphone began to delight with Russian-language voice acting. As it turned out, a remote Google server was talking to me, from where the Russian speech synthesizer broadcasts. If you turn off mobile Internet or Wi-Fi, the voice acting is lost, and may not return even in the Wi-Fi zone. I couldn’t get her to work whenever she needed to. Talk Back from Google does not have a built-in Russian synthesizer, and this is not Lenovo’s fault, although some manufacturers, for example Samsung, have built-in speech synthesizers of their own design in their arsenal.
In my case, with outside help in the Talk Back application, I managed to turn on the touch learning function, use a tutorial that gives basic ideas about control gestures. After the gadget rebooted, Russian speech was again lost, and the smartphone turned on by the bourgeois.
For a stable voice acting, Alena’s voice from Acapella was delivered. It is on the Play Market and costs less than 4 euros. Alyona, in my opinion, works stably, legibly and most closely to a lively voice. The only time when it crashes is to connect the device to a laptop in flash drive mode. At the time of switching, Alena, like any third-party synthesizer, becomes silent, and the Google synthesizer comes to life to replace it. The same distant Russian voice of Talk Back wakes up, in other cases it is English-speaking, or the device sinks into silence. As soon as the cable is disconnected, the synthesizer works again. This is not a problem with Android, Talk Back or Acapella, but most likely a feature of Lenovo. With the other third-party synthesizer “Captain”, the picture was the same. On a number of gadgets of other manufacturers, my vision colleagues have not found such a problem, and, in general, I consider it insignificant.
All manipulations with Talk Back and speech synthesizers are made in the “Accessibility” section. I want to note that the Lenovo P780 shell does not allow you to take advantage of all the functions of this settings section provided for in pure Android 4.2. The manufacturer cut back on special features and sent some important options for the blind to other settings sections.
- No inclusion of zoom gestures triggering a magnifying glass. Here I also attribute the lack of the option to include large text, which, however, I found in another section of the settings. Both functions are relevant for visually impaired people with a visual impairment.
- Ending the conversation with the shutdown key, smart answer, auto-rotate control and password display. all these items from the special features are transferred to other sections of the settings, although they are also relevant where the blind person will adapt the device for themselves. It would be convenient to duplicate them.
- There is no quick start that starts Talk Back at any time while the smartphone is running. In other words, there is no choice between startup at startup and startup during operation. Talk Back either works by default through autoload, or is disabled at all, and to activate it, you need to use the help of a sighted user. Gestures with Talk Back turned on and off are different, which means that the phone must quickly adapt to the needs of the sighted and blind user. When Talk Back departed, and this happened a couple of times, I had to reboot to resuscitate him.
Taming and adaptation of the device
To help the notification panel, I installed a native and fully accessible power widget, where, perhaps, there is only enough on / off mobile Internet. By the way, sorry. After all, the widget controls the synchronization, but the Internet via GSM does not.
All Lenovo P780 settings were completely accessible to the fingers and ears of the blind. The only minor difficulty is changing sound profiles. Here, their names, as in the control panel, are torn away from the buttons, and are read by the screen reader in a row on one line. I had to remember the sequence of location of the profiles and mark next the corresponding activation daw. Later I realized: this is a one-time procedure, because the vibration mode and the call mode are selected from the phone’s shutdown menu, and the device can automatically adjust the volume in the pocket and outside.
Not too pleased with the implementation of a bunch of phone book, contacts, call log and dialing. In my opinion, the device lacks a single blind control logic. For example, in the dialing menu, the numeric keys with Talk Back turned on are double-tapped, and similar functionality when creating a message to a subscriber who is not in the notebook is implemented with a single press. At the same time, to dial a number in calls, the buttons are voiced when the fingers find them on the screen, and in messages the keyboard is silent and responds only when the finger comes off the random button. I would like to deal with a single algorithm in completely similar situations using the phone.
Another example is comparing your contact list and call log. It would seem that the applications that were identical in logic were actually worked out differently. If in the journal next to each subscriber there is a button that is very conveniently signed by calling his name, then in the contact manager it is announced only by a digital value. First you have to point your finger at the contact, then carefully find the corresponding call button with a strictly horizontal movement to the right. In practice, I made a few mistakes when calling from the contact manager. A trifle, of course, but it slows down the everyday work of the blind with a smartphone as a regular phone.
Choosing a SIM card in a separate window when making a phone call practically does not give the owner the opportunity to make a mistake, which can not be said about messages where unsigned send buttons from different SIM cards are simply located one below the other to the right of the text input field. I did not even immediately realize that there were two of them, and at first I could not understand why the messages left the backup card. A good solution would be to implement this function in an additional notification window by analogy with the call algorithm or at least by simply signing buttons.
Another drawback of the interface was found in the notification window when a new SMS message arrived. Four buttons are located in its lower part: “Call”, “Delete”, “OK” and “Answer”. The first two of them are not signed, with the other two. everything is in order. It’s easy to remember the meaning of each and get used to it, but why the extra work of the user, if there are Lenovo specialists who can bring the basic functions of the interface and control to uniformity?
Voice search, which helps quickly enter SMS messages, posts on social networks, addresses and search queries, is also available in the P780. Skeptics who claimed that the service only works when the Internet is turned on were put to shame. But an ambush is still discovered. Surprisingly, voice input works everywhere except for the most necessary place for me. the contact manager. Here, to the left of the blank space of a standard Google keyboard, a slash key has popped up. Updating the keyboard to the latest version did not change the situation, which indicates the specifics of the firmware of the device itself. For the blind, this is a serious minus, and for the manufacturer. a flaw, especially if you take into account that in the same Samsung and Nexus there is a voice function for finding contacts on the same keyboard.
The problem can be circumvented by searching for a contact through Google voice search, but this method was cumbersome and ineffective for me. I found a way out by creating separate shortcuts and contact folders on the desktops for organizing quick access.
It will not hurt the manufacturer to process the P780 for signatures of the most frequently used buttons, for example, searching for a subscriber and creating a new contact in the phone book, searching for and creating new SMS in messages, filtering calls by SIM cards in the journal, and attachment buttons in creating a message. For me personally, signing the control buttons for the FM radio and voice recorder would have to go to the court.
In working with social networks, the Lenovo P780 was generally friendly for the blind and much faster to use than the button predecessors. However, there is something to improve. For example, on Twitter you need to sign the menu buttons: “Main”, “Notifications”, “In the know” and “Me”. There are some oddities in the keyboard when creating a new tweet. For example, when you hover your finger over a symbol, it is voiced, and when you enter it by tearing your finger off, the smartphone is silent. With a character-by-character removal, the device calls only Latin letters, but for some reason does not respond to Russians. A tweet prepared for sending is not read on the screen. You have to rely on intuition, because the text of a tweet can be read only after its publication. VKontakte in this sense works almost flawlessly. Here, the editing window is implemented by analogy with SMS, there are no problems with the voice acting of the entered, entered and deleted text.
All the charm of Android is in the wealth of choice of external applications, among which the blind owner can always find more affordable ones. To the “Play-music” music application, I preferred a more intuitive player, mounted in Total Commander, and the built-in browser, the available “fire fox”. I have not yet chosen a suitable e-mail client. In the embedded application, headers of letters were available, but the contents of the message body, unfortunately, are not readable.
Two sides of the same coin
The Lenovo P780 made a double impression on me. Tactile attractiveness close to ideal, excellent technical capabilities, stability in work, wide functionality of Android are, of course, a positive side of my impressions. She never ceases to rejoice daily. The other side is the lack of accessibility “out of the box”, the functionality of accessibility features cut off and blurred by the settings, the unfriendliness of the native launcher, an unworked algorithm for accessing the basic functions of calls and messages, unsigned or torn off button signatures. All this interferes with everyday use, makes you fight, act intuitively, find workarounds and, of course, significantly lubricates the holistic experience of this wonderful model.
I admit that some of the shortcomings should be put on the look of OS Android itself, which, as they say, is still somewhat behind iOS for accessibility for the blind. If the information about the upcoming system update for this device right up to version 4.4 is correct, then a number of problems can be removed by self-signing buttons. At the time of writing, an update to my gadget has not yet arrived. I look forward to it.
Lenovo P780, at least, deserves the close attention of blind users, especially those who love and know how to adapt their environment with their own hands. For those who are used to getting ready-made perfect solutions, I advise you to wait until Lenovo consciously takes up the implementation of the special features of the operating system, the availability of the shell and the applications used.
Pros for the blind:
- capacious battery;
- stable work;
- productive processor;
- fast GPS;
- large screen;
- two sim cards;
- quality of materials and assembly;
- smart answer;
- end the conversation with the power button;
- auto-adjustment of ringtone volume;
- location of touch buttons below the screen;
- accessibility and clarity of phone settings;
- a large selection of paid and free speech synthesizers;
- an abundance of third-party applications;
- high speed and convenience of Internet surfing;
- accessibility of social networks.
Cons for the blind:
- difficulty controlling one hand;
- dependence on headphones in noisy places;
- difficulty in calling an additional telephone keypad during a call;
- self-unlocking in a trouser pocket;
- Inaccessibility “out of the box” (lack of a pre-installed Talk Back);
- truncated and scattered over the settings functionality of accessibility features;
- Departure of any third-party speech synthesizers when connecting a USB cable;
- the unfriendly shell of Lenovo Launcher;
- insufficient elaboration of the phone / journal / message linking algorithm;
- unsigned and torn off signatures buttons in the notification panel and some applications;
- lack of voice search in the contact manager.
Editorial w3bsit3-dns.com thanks Ilya Lebedev for the review provided. For most of us, a similar point of view on "habitual" The device is far and inaccessible. We are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to get a new experience.