Victor Reader Stream
The Victor Reader Stream is the iPod like device that plays audio books, podcasts, text notes, music, and that records and plays class notes, all done with flexibility for rapid and effortless Reading by Listening (or Aural Reading).
I started using audio textbooks in 1969 using a big reel-to-reel tape player that had only one speed and no systematic way of navigating to needed pages. Rewinding was done by stopping the tape, rewinding, stopping, and going back to play to see where the rewinding took me in the text. We have come a long way since those days, and this Victor Reader Stream player represents state of the art for Aural Reading.
The Victor Reader Stream (Stream) is a small iPod like device that uses flash memory technology. Files are loaded onto an SD card that can hold many audio textbooks, library books, text documents, music, podcasts, etc (You can put 20 or 30+ books on one thumb nail size SD card, more books than you could carry without using a wheel barrel) , It plays audio books, it plays text files using text-to-speech (or speech synthesis) for reading teacher notes, handouts, quizzes, tests, Bookshare books, etc., it plays MP3 files (music, pod casts, etc.), and it records and plays audio files for student recorded notes and class lectures.
Students can get audio textbooks (digitized human speech) on CD and move them over to the Stream's SD card, or down load books to a computer from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (now Learning Ally) via the Web and move them to the Stream. Students can also download audio magazines, fiction and non-fiction books from the National Library Service (NLS).
Text files can be read using text-to-speech (synthesized mechanical speech). Students can get any text files, cut from web pages, their teacher's computer, email, BookShare.com, etc. and "read" them aurally using this device's text-to-speech feature.
Students can start the recording feature at the beginning of a class lecture, pause it when the class is off topic, restart when the lecture resumes, and save the recording for later playback. Playback can be done by reading through at a normal rate or doing audio skipping and skimming to make best use of time.
This device has powerful navigation functions. In seconds one can navigate to book chapter, section, page, and time intervals. Playback can be adjusted to a wide range of speeds up and down in 25% intervals making it practical to read at double and triple speed.
When reading one can jump back or forth in the text by one minute intervals with the press of a key, or by five second intervals with the press of another key (not available on any other device that I have seen.). This lets the Aural Reader quickly reread a sentence, phrase or word, much the way a good visual reader would. These rereading features are essential for studying -- reading complex language or difficult passages. For instance, I was recently reading a book about a computer programing language that required reading and rereading for studying. My Stream became unavailable to use in the middle of reading the book so I attempted to continue my study by using other players. These other players like many players have its text reading options limited to going to a page reading the page straight through using pause and resume with the only other choice being to restart the page when rereading is needed. When I had to attempt to read it this way, I could not read and comprehend this complex material. I had to wait until I got my Stream back so I could use its one minute and five second rereading options needed to complete the reading and rereading for studying of this complex material. This kind of rereading feature is essential for studying.
This book player lets one insert voice notes (or voice bookmarks) in text and even insert voice notes in the audio book files, podcasts files, etc. Speech, text and music playback can, also, be speeded up and slowed down any time (not available on all players) to make optimal use of work time -- easily reading at rates of 250 to 350+ words per minute with good comprehension.
One can read through, recorded class notes, in one half to one eighth the time recorded. This is done by using two time saving techniques: skipping and skimming. (1) Skipping uses the move forward button set for one minute and the five second forward button to skip over unneeded sentences or sections. (2) Skimming runs the playback at very high speed over known material or unneeded material (I use playback speeds of three to six times normal speed and sometimes drop back to 1.5 to 2 speed for rereading a passage). A student can record a 55 minute lecture and, after class, do skip and skim using as little as ten minutes to review the lecture or to filling in notes. When capable students are held back from success in school because of slow, labored, or inadequate visual decoding this is one of the cool gadgets that can enable them to work up to their potential using Reading by Listening.
Mike's Notes on Pricing & Vendors for the Victor Reader Stream
(Check for current prices. Some venders offer special prices, free shipping, and bonuses)
These notes give information on:
(a) where you can get the book player
(c) the UAK's needed for Learning Ally textbooks and NLS books and magazines.
I recommend that you check for price with these and other venders that you might find through a Google search. You will need an SDCard and some venders provide them with the player or you can use any SDCard (start with a 2G SDCard).
(1) HumanWare.com (the manufacturer)
(a) HumanWare.com (USA) (800) 722-3393
(b) Price: $359.00 3/20/11) (Full Suggested Retail)(as of 3/20/11)
(c) Needs UAK's for both Learning Ally textbooks and NLS books and magazines (see notes below).
(2) Recording For The Blind & Dyslexic (now Learning Ally) (comes with Learning Ally UAK installed)
(a) LearningAlly.org, (800) 221-4792
(b) Price: $349.00 (as of 3/20/11)
This comes with the Learning Ally UAK installed so it is ready to play Learning Ally textbook
(c) see notes below on getting the NLS UAK
(3) "I Can See My PC"
(a) ICanSeeMyPC.com, (866) 206-7249
(b) Price: $349 (as of 3/20/11)
(c) see notes below on getting the Learning Ally UAK and the NLS UAK
(a) ActiveForever.com, 800-377-8033
(b) Price: $343.00 (with free shipping) (as of 3/20/11)
(c) see notes below on getting the Learning Ally UAK and the NLS UAK
-- Getting set up for special library services and getting UAK's installed can be a daunting task, but once all is set up the daily use is very easy especially with the NLS web site. Books can be downloaded and installed on the Victor Reader Stream in minutes. (see the section on library content or contact me for help if needed)
-- Recording For The Blind & Dyslexic (Learning Ally) An Learning Ally user authorization key (UAK) must be installed on players, so they will play 'Learning Ally books (Learning Ally UAK's are free with Learning Ally membership) (LearningAlly.org).
-- National Library Service (NLS) An NLS UAK user authorization key (UAK) must be installed on players, so they will play NLS books and magazines (NLS UAK's are free with NLS membership) (loc.gov/nls/signup.html)