There are two types of blind people in the world. Those who own a Victor Stream and those who donít. The decision on whether or not to purchase the new Book Sense from GW Micro may largely fall on which of these groups you come from.
First, the basics. The Book Sense is yet another entry in the market for portable audio book readers. With a form factor similar to a candy bar style cell phone, the Book Sense is smaller than the stream. It includes a numeric keypad, a five-way navigation pad, and dedicated buttons for playback, recording, hearing the date and time, and other functions.
Compared to the stream, there are several inherent advantages with the Book Sense. It plays more formats including Microsoft Word .DOC and .DOCX files. It can record directly to high-quality .MP3. You can charge the Book Sense directly from your computerís USB port. And the XT version includes an FM radio, 4GB of built-in memory, and Bluetooth headset support.
On the other hand, HumanWare certainly did something right with the stream, as over 25,000 of the units have been sold. Its larger size may be more suitable for those with physical limitations, as the buttons are more distinguishable. Also, it can play NLS cartridges directly.
For those without a book reader of any kind, the Book Sense at the introductory price of $314 or $449 for the Book Sense XT makes sense. With the ability to play NLS, Bookshare, and many other formats, the portability of a book reader offers some real possibilities. For those who own a stream, one will need to determine if these additional features are worth the upgrade. While one may be able to sell their stream, the market will soon be flooded with used units. Also, the stream may still have software upgrades which could offer some of the features found in the Book Sense.
While the Book Sense may not make sense for everyone, we certainly feel it worthy of the attention of the blind or visually impaired consumer.
Product: Book Sense
Price: $314 standard, $449 XT, after Sept. 30 $349 standard, $499 XT
Web site: http://www.gwmicro.com
Lots of buzz so far, and it's all good. I understand the case it comes with isn't great. I know the speaker and the Neospeech voices are much better than competeing products. The Book Sense is raising the bar, but also the price. I like that the unit is smaller. I would like to know if there are any onboard editing capabilities for recordings in the Booksense? An on board stereo microphone and ability to monitor your recordings would be cool as well. We may have to wait for that new portable Plextalk for those types of features.
roosterloop Tuesday, 15-Dec-2009 4:38 PM ET:
Before I found the VR stream, I had been searching for a small salution for playing audio, primarily music with text to speech access. I went to a friends place in Co, saw his stream and am glad to say it was the first, and only inpulce buy I have made. In saying that, I must say, that though being an impulce buy, I've used it daily for over a year. It's amazing. I heard about the book sence before it's release, and thought it would be a cool unit to have, but, because I already had a VR stream, and knew the mp3 recording wouldn't be as good as my Zoom H2, or Sony PCMD50, I'd rather shell out $300 pluss for other audio gear rather then just another unit, that did the same thing that a couple of my units could do very well.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.