September 15th, 2007

Cut cuddle and be Cute

A Stream of observations

On Wednesday, I got something shiny (maybe not literally, I can't see well enough to tell), new and very exciting. I got a
Victor Reader Stream
and an 8GB card to use with it. If anyone wants to know which one, I could theoretically edit this post, but will most likely end up lleaving it in the reply to a comment.

This, to me, is incredible! It's light, has a carrying case, has an external speaker, knows (through the use of a specific "bookshelf" structure), how to treat each file, and does lots of neat things which I might as well describe in a list:

  • Let's discuss the file structure: There are specific ways to tell the Stream that what's in this folder is all music, which can be played randomly, and what's in this folder is a book, so I won't need that option, and will get ticked if you make it happen. The Stream has a feature I like, which is related to this...
  • It gets treated like any other drive: This means that technically, you don't need any other card reader. It also means I can copy files in Windows Explorer, or unpack a
    book directly onto it. I would note, however, that I suspect a High Capacity capable card reader would be at least somewhat faster. I just love it that no other extra program is needed.
  • Highlighting bookmarks: After playing with the highlighting capabilities, my first reaction was "Where has this been all my life?" The second reaction was that if I were sighted, i'd be one of the people with multiple colored highlighters who would mark up a text. I'm still frustrated when all of the books at the bookstore are used, and thus highlighted, but I now understand why people do it.
  • Great sound: I'm finding that the sound quality is great, and that I don't mind the synthetic voice. Those were two fears I had, as getting a good feel for how I'll react to the voice takes two days, which I didn't have the luxury of at convention.
  • NLS books! If you're not sure what NLS is,
    visit the NLS library's web site
    It's very neat that we're able to download such high quality materials, and use them like any other reader. I can highlight and mark passages which I find useful, and maybe, you know, blog about them if I wish.
  • Navigation benefits: There are so many cool navigation features in the
    Daisy standard
    which the Stream supports. I like the fact that no matter where you are or what you want to do, the navigation features always, always go the same way. So, for example, pressing the six key always takes me forward, whether in a book and jumping by heading, in a list of bookmarks, or going through a list of books. That really helps with learning how to use the product!
  • The ability to record: I haven't played with this yet, so will choose not to comment on i for now, but I think that's vital in a product without a text mode of entry.
  • Prominant, easy to find sleep function: There's a dedicated sleep button on the front of the unit, which I love. If I want to know that I'm only reading for 15 minutes, I don't have to dig through a menu to do it.
  • Size: It's small, but has big buttons.
  • The way it feels: This unit feels sleak, more like something a sighted person would use, but it's very tactile. In my "Reflective woman" class, we would say it's "aesthetically pleasing".
  • The way I'm told it looks: Sighted people are asking "What is that?" in a good way, which doesn't always happen with blindness technology.
  • Carry case with belt clip: Some know why this is important to me, some don't. All I will admit to in writing is that my BookPort's belt clip broke off, and a it was a really crappy situation. (Sorry to those who don't like the word crappy, but it really is descriptive.)
  • The really neat human voice used for static text, like prompts, etc.
  • The tactile click I get when hitting a button.
  • The ability to record (though sadly that's not in mp3). I might use this to record social work interview role plays for further analysis.
  • The fact that Humanware is more environmentally conscious about packaging than the shippers of my SDHC card. Would you believe that the box which contained the VR Stream and all it's accessories, was smaller than the one carrying the SDHC card, which is a lot smaller?
  • The fact that it gave me something good to write about, even though I'm recovering from a particularly horrible flare.

This is definitely worth checking out! So, if you're interested, definitely do. It's a very very cool product!