Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's Time To Make Life EZ

An interesting movement in the AT field over recent years has been the homogenization of different types of technology into one device. This has been seen with CCTV's that contain OCR technology, Read-Aloud devices that combine email capabilities, Smart Phones that can be used for numerous different tasks related to the low vision and blindness etc. This homogenization is a great trend as it means a user can carry less devices and make their lives a little easier.

Following this trend is the Blaze EZ from HIMS, a fully featured DASIY reader featuring WiFi capabilities and OCR. The Blaze EZ is around the size of an iPhone 5 and weighs just 138 grams making it very portable. The front of the device is uncluttered; At the top are two speakers at the left and right with the power button between them. A record button is located under the left speaker. Under that are found 3 buttons in a row for access to music, radio and books. Under these can be found four directional arrows with a button in the center for navigation and selection. Finally, under the arrows are 3 buttons in a row, a cancel button, an explorer button for accessing menus and the OCR button for performing OCR.

The Blaze's main competition is likely to come from Humanware's Victor Reader Stream 2nd Generation, itself a very capable OCR device. The devices have in similar built in WiFi capabilities, allowing you to download DAISY books from Bookshare, BARD, stream online radio and download podcasts. The Victor Reader features a numeric keypad which makes navigation and accessing certain features somewhat easier. The Blaze EZ on the other hand features OCR which the Victor Reader does not. In my tests with the OCR it works very well - it performs the OCR quickly, the accuracy is impressive and the voice is clear. The Blaze does not give any indication as to the paper alignment like the KNFB Reader does, so it can be harder to align. Nonetheless I can see it being a very useful tool. One other nice feature that the Blaze has which the Victor Reader does not is built in storage - 16GB is built in with around 12GB available for use. This of course can be expanded with an SD card (support for up to 64GB SD cards).

Both of these devices are great examples of homogenization in the AT field, offering multiple features to access entertainment on the go. The Blaze is interesting in offering OCR in such a compact package, and it does it surprisingly well. This comes at a cost though, with the MSRP at $695, while the Victor Reader comes in at an MSRP of $369. Whichever way you choose to go you really can't go wrong! To find out more call us at 312-997-3649.

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