In the past couple of weeks I have started using three new products that all make some aspect of living blind a little more convenient. I thought I would share a paragraph or two about each as I think BC readers may enjoy them as well. I’ll go in reverse price order from the most to the least expensive.
On Tuesday, I got a box from Independent Living Aids (ILA) containing my Victor Reader Stream. First off, I’m not sure whether the product’s actual name is Victor Stream, Victor Reader or Victor Reader Stream as all three terms appear somewhere in the associated documentation. I guess I can call it anything so, in memory of my Uncle Victor Bastek, a Navy frogman who survived the Normandy invasion as well as missions in the Korean conflict, I’ll call it Vic because that’s what we called him.
I tend to dislike “blind guy ghetto” products and Vic certainly falls into this category but having a single device that plays almost every format I can imagine, including the various dialects of Daisy, warmed me to the idea of this device. Once it arrived and I spent some time handling it, I came to the conclusion that, aside from the cute little talking compass made in Australia, this may be the most elegantly designed “blind guy ghetto” device I’ve ever encountered (I have never touched a Book Port but people tell me it’s very nice as well). People comfortable with new technology products can get up and using Vic pretty quickly with a swift read of the Quick Start Guide and turning it on without having an SD card inserted which puts the device into a mode similar to keyboard help (INSERT+1) in JAWS.
I like the sound of Vic’s synthesized voice and its form factor, approximately the size of a deck of poker playing cards. The only thing I don’t care for (thus far) is its case but I need something to complain about everything I buy. The Victor Reader Stream is $329 at ILA but I’m told that Sendero Group and some others have it for $299 or perhaps less.
The second new item to enter my life this week is a Tassimo coffee Machine . This product designed for a mainstream audience provides the most convenient manner of making coffee, tea and other hot beverages that a blind person will find anywhere. The coffee grounds, tea, chocolate, etc. comes in plastic disks which one puts in the top of the machine which then reads a bar code on the disk and prepares the beverage you desire to near perfection. I’ve owned a number of different espresso/cappuccino machines over the years and never made a single cup as good as the first one I made with this pot.
My only complaint about the Tassimo product is that it doesn’t contain a speech synthesizer. If such could be added, the device could announce what kind of disk one had inserted before making a beverage so if a blind user wants a wide variety of different drinks, it would be helpful to be certain that one put the correct disk in the pot before brewing.
The Tassimo machine costs about $168 at various department stores but you can go to their web site and find all sorts of pointers to different discounts, packaged deals that include the machine and some beverages and, of course, lots of places from which you can order coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.
Lastly, I used the new User Centric Licensing scheme in Mobile Speak Smartphone this week. Code Factory has come up with what is hands down the most convenient solution to software authorization, the least well liked feature of virtually all AT software products. The UCL kicks ass and I would hope others can move to such a scheme soon.