The Pico is made by Telesensory, a large US-based firm that have a successful UK arm. Telesensory make some other well-known products such as the Aladdin CCTV range. Their pocket magnifier is a similar size, similar weight, and comes in a similar box to the Quicklook.
I tested both the magnification devices using a document with a print size 12 (Arial) in a few different colours.
I also tried looking at the ingredients on the back of a shiny can of fiery ginger beer.
The Pico has well-built feel to it and the rubberized grips on either side make it comfortable to hold. The two ellipses are buttons that emit a cool blue light. One of the buttons turns the device on and off and the other steps through the magnification modes (Colour or Negative).
The Pico does not have a zoom/magnification control - you have to increase magnification by physically moving the device closer to the object you're trying to magnify.
As with the Quicklook, the Pico's camera is built into the left side of the unit rather than in the middle. This usually foxes people at first but as soon as you've started using the device it becomes second nature. The camera is surrounded by four white LEDs that emit enough light to brighten up documents and make them easier to read.
The brightness of the LEDs can be varied through a normal setting, dim, and off, using a small blue slider on the top edge of the Pico.
You may have noticed by now that the Pico has two barn-door style legs. These seem to serve three functions:
When both extended these bring the Pico away from your document to allow something in the region of 5x magnification, as can be seen in the first photograph above.
Dropping only one leg lets you use the Pico at an angle - which is perhaps slightly more ergonomic as you don't have to lean over so much to use it.
Close both legs and the Pico is pushed to its maximum magnification, lying flat on your document. However a significant amount of digital distortion appears which makes the display considerably blurry and fuzzy. Perhaps many people wouldn't mind this but I showed it to a couple of visually impaired clients and they didn't seem too impressed.
The legs are also handy for getting underneath the camera in order to write. This picture clearly shows the magnification of the ballpoint pen. However you can also see that after just a few letters the Pico would need to be pushed along the paper. This is more suitable for signing cheques or writing short annotations.
The legs - which allow writing underneath the device, the ergonomic resting position and the maximum magnification, are of concern to me for use in a school.
They have a rather flimsy look and feel to them and I would be worried that would become detached and lost fairly quickly.
Because of its size the Pico can also be used out and about. It even comes with a neck strap. The picture on the left shows the ingredients from a pop can. It's fortunate that the LEDs could be turned off because otherwise the glare can make shiny surfaces very difficult to read.
The Pico has a good tactile feel to it and feels well-built with one exception. The little barn door legs that support it would have a questionable life span in an education environment. Also the maximum 11x magnification seems rather dubious to me as it becomes so distorted. The fact that the LEDs can be turned off is very useful for reading shiny objects.
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