Wednesday, February 26, 2014

GW Micro Portable CCTV Review

I borrowed this portable CCTV for some tests to see if this is something I would like to add to my low vision tool.

Mfg: GW Micro
Model #: P430
Description: SenseView Portable CCTV
Note: This is a discontinued product, but you might find an used one on eBay for about $100.  Price new few years ago was around $700.

Specification Summary:
  • Screen size: 4.3 inch LCD
  • Magnification levels: 4x to 22x
  • Brightness levels: 4
  • Color mode: 6
  • Snapshot: 1 image.  The captured image can't be saved or transferred to a PC.   The image would be lost when you turn off the device.
  • Battery life: about 4 hours on a full charge

The portable CCTV package also includes AC adapter, hand strap, soft carrying pouch, and user guide.

I tested this portable CCTV with the following common tasks:

Reading the label on a pill bottle

This is a two-hand operation.  I used one hand to hold the portable CCTV and the other hand hold the pill bottle against the camera lens.  To read the whole label, I had to rotate the pill bottle back and fore and up and down.  If I want to change any control, I would need a third hand.  If I move the bottle just bit away from the camera lens, the label would be out of focus and not readable.  I think my handheld 5x magnifying glass can do the same task almost as well.
     Pill bottle label. Normal color.
      Pill bottle label.  Reversed color.

Reading Books

The portable CCTV is not suitable to read softcover books at all and just barely usable for hardcover books.  The problem is that you can only see couple of words at a time at its lowest magnification level and can only see few letters at a higher magnification level. However, this device did a great job of showing phone numbers in a phone book at a higher magnification level.  In all cases, the words near the book spine were out of focus. 

Writing check

Forget about it, I couldn't use this thing to help me to see in order to write anything.  As soon as I lift this device off the checkbook or any paper, everything is out of focus.

What it good for

The only thing that this device can do well is reading something flat like a bill, a newspaper or a restaurant menu, etc.  I had to slide this device across the page slowly otherwise I would lost track between the end of one line and the beginning of next line.  The brightness control and various color modes are also helpful in some situations.


Since this is a portable CCTV, I took it to grocery shopping.  There is no belt clip on the carry pouch so I had to put it in my jacket packet.  To use it, I have to pull the device out of the carrying pouch, put the pouch back in the pocket.  To read a label, I had to tell my guide dog to sit and stay in order to free my other hand so I can hold the package against the camera lens.  To change control, I either put the package back or need a third hand.  It was fairly easy to read the label on cardboard boxes but need some work to read the label on plastic packages, bottles and cans.I have to remember to use the hand strap  just so I don't accidently drop this expensive  device.  I think this is way too much hassle for this task.

My take

 This is a good example of an expensive widget that don't do much better than a much cheaper and simpler tool.  I did like the reverse color mode.  Unless you really need a high magnification device with different color mode, just use a handheld magnifying glass.

   This 5X magnifying glass with LED works as almost as well at much cheaper price.


  1. I use the Ruby device manufactured by Freedom Scientific. Portable,liight weight. Controls easy to,operate to change text size and contract as well as store image for later transfer to PC. Expensive but worth everything to me