Victor Reader Stream And Hims Blaze ET
by Terry Kebbel and Timothy Hornik
Upon going blind, many veterans receive a digital talking book player from the National Library Service (NLS) BARD talking books program. BARD stands for Braille and Audio Reading Download.
The digital player can open digital downloads from the greater world of audio books and magazines through local NLS BARD state libraries. The NLS BARD digital player also becomes the first bit of blind technology one can employ to regain a sense of independence.
While the digital talking book player will never let us down, many outgrow its capabilities or simply desire a pocket-sized digital player. The Humanware Victor Reader Stream and Hims Blaze ET fulfill these requirements superbly and may be requested through a VA Blind Rehabilitation Service program or center. Both of these portable audio readers possess the ability to search and read content from the NLS BARD Library and a whole lot more.
This review describes both devices as aids in fulfilling one’s desire to enjoy countless hours of books, magazines, and many other types of reading materials.
Both the Victor Reader Stream and the Blaze ET possess common functions. Both devices, for example, search and read NLS BARD materials, podcasts, DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) program services, and other digital media. Accomplishing these tasks is simple, thanks to integrated WiFi capabilities with companion software to sync with one’s computer. The clean user interface requires little training to learn, a favorable characteristic of both devices.
Going beyond listening to audio media, the Victor Reader and Blaze ET quickly turn into digital recorders for capturing notes to entire meetings. By pressing a single button, the user never has to ask anyone if a comment is missed. Most blinded veterans agree that high quality audio recordings quickly become their favorite feature. Both devices allow users to alter various recording settings, thus ensuring the best quality for their needs.
Examining the size of the Victor Reader Stream and the Blaze ET, the word “compact” only begins to describe the amount of power crammed into a small space. Measuring about the same size as a deck of cards, the two readers easily fit into one hand.
Unlike touch screen phones and tablets, interactions occur through buttons and switches. Most navigation tasks rely on arrow keys surrounding a central action button. Beneath this button, a numerical keypad offers enhanced navigational features and alphanumerical typing endeavors.
Battery life on both devices will last all day but, for extended time away from chargers, the swapping of batteries can occur through the removal of the rear panel on each device.
High Points of the Victor Reader Stream
The Victor Reader Stream separates itself from the Blaze, not through more features but through a highly polished and refined experience. The integrated voices for navigation sound extremely clear and crisp, assisting those with lesser degrees of hearing loss. The menu structure that accesses media and books, as well as the file organization options, enable one to quickly find the desired media.
For the podcast enthusiast, the Victor Reader Stream boasts a list of recommended podcasts that can be accessed on thousands of channels through podcast catchers. The Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials channel is merely one example.
Blinded veterans who subscribe to the NFB-Newsline also find that their news sources are a click away. The same is true for other popular Internet streaming radio sources. Due to its simplicity, the Victor Reader Stream is overall one of the most popular devices issued by the BRCs and other programs.
Blaze ET Advantages
While the Blaze ET is fully capable as a standalone and portable NLS BARD reader, it extends beyond multimedia consumption to also include Bluetooth connectivity, an integrated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) package, and color reader.
The Bluetooth 3.0 chipset removes fussing with audio cables, directly connecting it to wireless speakers and headsets. Transforming into a text and color recognizer, an integrated camera with an LED flash scans text documents and the color of clothing worn.
Bolstering the accuracy of the OCR capabilities, a solid stainless steel stand may be purchased in a separate bundle. The stand includes a charging dock and spare battery.
The color recognizer might not replace the Color Eno mechanical pencil but it is still well suited to recognize solid and background colors with one other color present. This feature makes the Blaze ET a wonderful portable book reader with built-in recognition capabilities that do not require resorting to an iPhone or other Smartphone while traveling.
The Final Decision
Both the Victor Reader Stream and Blaze ET serve as a stepping stone for blinded veterans interested in employing technology to increase independence. While both serve to read digital audio books from the NLS BARD and other services, the addition of podcasts, Internet radio sources, OCR, and color recognition functions eventually force us to select one over the other.