In the last 10 years or so, we have seen the emergence of one DAISY audio player after another varying in features and price. But with the increasing popularity of iOS and Android devices, is the DAISY audio player market in danger of becoming overgrown?
A BRIEF HISTORY
HumanWare’s desktop Victor Reader Classic was the machine RNIB issued with Talking Book subscriptions when the old cartridges were replaced by titles on CD in the late 1990s. Easier to navigate, and with better sound, the Victor range has gone from strength to strength.
In 2007, HumanWare released Victor’s first portable DAISY audible player in the shape of the Victor Reader Stream, a unit that became an instant hit worldwide. Offering greater DAISY navigation, the Stream was also an MP3 player and voice recorder, all condensed into a hand-held device you could carry around in your pocket. That model has now been superseded by the Stream second generation which offers Internet radio and the ability to download podcasts to the device.
But while Victor Reader Stream emerged as the front-runner, Bones offered the Milestone family of players. Smaller still than the Stream, Milestone aimed for units with fewer buttons and added functionality such as RFID reader and colour recognition.
Plextalk joined the arena with its range of desktop and portable players, and RNIB began to issue a Plextalk desktop player with added functionality as part of its Talking Book subscription package.
And if that wasn’t enough, Hims raised the bar with their portable DAISY players with even more functionality such as Bluetooth and OCR.
But with more and more blind and visually impaired people choosing iOS or Android devices, it means that they have access not only to DAISY titles on their devices, but books from Audible and Kindle as well. And with RNIB offering a digital download book service in the form of OverDrive, there are now lots of different ways of accessing material to read.
THE CURRENT CROP
The Victor Reader Stream second generation continues to be a winning combination of stability, usability and affordability. Of all the devices out there on which I can listen to books, this little beauty still packs a mighty punch.
Plextalk’s current portable devices are the Pocket and Linio. They are renowned for their excellent audio quality, particularly when making DAISY recordings.
Hims offers the Blaze EZ and Blaze ET, both with DAISY, OCR and other advanced features, that have become the most expensive of the current bunch of multi-players.
The Milestone family has the honour of being the smallest DAISY players in size, but by no means lacking in quality and features.
Away from the specialist market, Olympus offers some DAISY navigation on its DM5 voice recorder, but has really stepped up to the plate with improved accessible features on the DM7.
So is there now too much choice? Have we reached a situation where there are so many players on the market that choosing the right one has become more complex than it ought to be?
Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide what to buy:
1. What is my budget?
2. What do I want the player for?
3. Is it to be just for reading DAISY and MP3 books?
4. How much more added functionality am I prepared to pay for?
If you know the answers to these questions, you are probably able to make a pretty informed choice. But if you are new to the world of DAISY audio players, your decision could bea a little less clear-cut.