Victor Reader Stream

The Victor Reader StreamThere are a wide variety of portable MP3 players on the market but other than the very simple players that just play all the tracks that are stored on them only giving you a choice between random playback and sequential playback. Most are not accessible to sight impaired users.

The Victor Reader Stream is a fully accessible MP3 player, that allows you to navigate by album or artist (depending on how you’ve set it up) and choose the track you wish to listen to. The Victor Reader Stream is more than just a music player, it can also play DAISY talking books, read text files and record short memo’s.

About the size of a pack of cards, the front of the Victor Reader Stream features a numeric keypad, most of the Victor Readers functions are accessed via this keypad. Six additional buttons allow you to set bookmarks, jump to a specific location in a book and a sleep key. The sleep key will switch the unit off after 15 minutes useful if you have the habit of falling asleep whilst listening to the player. On the left hand side of the unit is the power switch and volume control. On the right hand side of the unit are two sockets for an external microphone and headphones. The top of the unit features a SD card slot, USB Port and power/charger socket. The buttons are tactile and well spaced. With the exception of those on the numeric keypa, all the buttons have a unique shape helping to make identification easier. If you forget what a button is for, the unit can be put into key describe mode where the name of each button will be announced as it is pressed.

The unit has a built in speaker, which is useful for listening to status information such as, when the unit is on charge. But it is too quiet for general listening. A pair of in the ear headphones is supplied. If you already have a favourite pair of headphones you can plug these into the unit.

The unit has no display and is self voicing. A male voice is used for navigating around the unit, whilst a female voice reads text documents. Whilst the speed of the voices can be changed, it is not possible to change the voices themselves.

Content on the Victor Reader Stream is stored on a SD memory card, sadly a SD card is not included but a 2GB card costs around £20. To transfer content to the Victor Reader Stream you need a computer and to be comfortable creating and copying data to folders.

The Victor Reader Stream can play both DAISY books and books recorded in formats such as MP3 and WAV. DAISY books have the advantage of offering extra navigation such as the ability to navigate between chapters, pages, headings, paragraphs, lines, sentences, words and characters (depending on how the book has been designed).

The built in text to speech engine means the Victor Reader Stream can read plain text files and HTML documents. Documents can be navigated by paragraph, line, sentence, word and character. With HTML documents being navigable by heading. Unfortunately it is not possible to read Word documents, unless you convert them into text files first.

Music files have to be manually organised into folders. The Victor Reader does not recognise the ID3 tags of MP3 files containing artist, album and genre information that most MP3 players use to organise tracks. When navigating music tracks, the folder name and track file name is announced so you need to ensure your tracks have sensible file names rather than just track 1.

A built in microphone allows voice memos to be recorded. Excellent for dictation or a meeting between two people in a quiet room. Though I think it would struggle with a meeting or lecture. An external microphone can be plugged into the unit for a better quality recording.

Conclusion

The Victor Reader Stream is a very versatile device, anyone who wants to listen to music, audio books or documents on the move will find it useful. The poor quality speaker does let the unit down, though there are plenty of travel speakers available on the market.

I would have liked to have seen a SD Card included with the unit or even better for the unit to have a built in hard drive, as most MP3 players in this price range have.

You do need to have a computer and be comfortable with creating folders and copying files to and from folders to make use of this device.

The Victor Reader Stream is available for £190 (excluding SD Card) If you would like a demonstration please telephone the Helpline and ask for Antony.

First Printed in the May 2008 edition of SeeFact

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