What to Look For in an Electronic Magnifier

by Dan Roberts
(Reviewed by Michael Fischer, O.D.)
With the large number of electronic magnifiers (CCTVs) available, knowing which is best-suited to your specific needs can be difficult. Of course, the best way to find out is to try out all of the models, but that just isn’t feasible. A better idea is to spend time with a low vision specialist who has several different kinds on display. This will help you make an educated decision based upon personal experience and professional advice.
Here are things to consider when choosing a magnifier:

  • Image mode (positive/negative text, color or black and white, range of color selections)
  • Range of magnification levels (up to 64 times)
  • Automatic focus
  • Automatic underline marker (to help keep your place)
  • Shadow mask (to highlight the line you are reading)
  • Distance viewing capability (a separate or adjustable camera )
  • Built-in monitor (versus using a separate computer or TV)
  • Computer compatability (split-screen mode for simultaneously or alternatively viewing magnified material and computer screen)
  • Portability (choose desktop or battery-powered handheld models)

You may not need all of these features, but at least you know they are available. Also, the more bells and whistles, the higher the cost.
Finally, you will want to check on warranties (at least 3 years), support options (whether home visits, access to local distributors, telephone or email), and free trial periods (at least 30 days).
For a list of electronic magnifiers and other technology currently on the market, see the Resources section of this site.

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