[Vrstream] Product Evaluation: Victor Reader Stratus 12 M DAISY MP3Player from HumanWare

Steve Zielinski steveziel at sbcglobal.net
Fri Aug 10 11:15:02 EDT 2012

Well they got one thing wrong, from all I have learned about the Stratus, it 
CANNOT play audible books.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Russ Kiehne" <russ94577 at gmail.com>
To: <vrstream at vrstreamusers.org>
Sent: Friday, August 10, 2012 9:58 AM
Subject: [Vrstream] Product Evaluation: Victor Reader Stratus 12 M DAISY 
MP3Player from HumanWare

>I thought some of you would be interested in the following article from the 
>current issue of Accessworld from AFB:
> Product Evaluation: Victor Reader Stratus 12 M DAISY MP3 Player from 
> HumanWare
> Deborah Kendrick
> The Victor Stratus is a tabletop DAISY player from HumanWare. It 
> accomplishes many
> of the same tasks as the smaller and popular Victor Reader Stream and does 
> a few
> things that the Stream does not. This review will examine features and 
> drawbacks
> of the Stratus and, hopefully, help determine which customers will find it 
> an attractive
> addition to their pool of technology and which might be more likely to 
> find it redundant.
> Description
> The footprint of the Victor Stratus is similar to many other tabletop 
> players, such
> as the National Library Service (NLS) digital-talking book player issued 
> to all library
> patrons in the US and other Victor models available from HumanWare. It 
> measures approximately
> 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches and weighs about two pounds.
> On the top face of the unit (from top to bottom) are three columns of two 
> keys each
> for adjusting tone, volume, and speed followed by a 12-key telephone-style 
> keypad.
> Next, there are Go To, Bookmark, and Eject keys near the left edge, a 
> Power button
> near the right edge, and, then, a fairly common four-key configuration at 
> the bottom.
> These four keys are arranged with three on the bottom (Rewind, Play/Stop, 
> and Fast
> Forward from left to right) and a centered key above them that functions 
> both as
> a Time Announcement key and a Sleep key.
> The AC power connection is on the back of the Stratus. On the right-hand 
> edge, from
> back to front, are: a secure digital (SD) card slot, a USB slot, and a 
> 3.5mm headphone
> jack. On the front edge of the machine is a CD slot.
> The built-in speaker is a two-inch diameter circle in the upper left 
> corner of the
> Stratus; it delivers very nice, clear sound. Although it was not included 
> with the
> model I tested, HumanWare can provide a cover that blocks all of the 
> centrally located
> navigation keys, but leaves the controls for ejecting CDs, playing 
> content, and controlling
> tone, speed, and volume accessible. This might be useful when using the 
> unit with
> small children or anyone with cognitive challenges.
> The battery is user-replaceable and reportedly operates for ten hours when 
> fully
> charged.
> What the Stratus Can Play
> The Victor Stratus can play a fairly impressive array of file types. It 
> can play
> your DAISY-formatted books, including those from Bookshare, Learning Ally, 
> and the
> NLS. It can play your books from Audible.com, your music collection, 
> podcasts, and
> any MP3, WAV, or other audio files you throw at it.
> In addition to playing both text and audio of DAISY books (when both 
> features are
> made available), the Stratus can play a host of other text formats as 
> well, including
> TXT, RTF, BRF, HTML, DOC, and DOCX. The familiar voices of Heather and 
> Ryan make
> listening to text quite a pleasant experience. No matter the file type, 
> you can also
> adjust the speed, volume, and tone to suit your own preferences.
> While You're Listening
> Like the popular Victor Reader Stream, the Victor Stratus gives you a 
> multitude of
> options for managing content as you listen. You can set bookmarks (up to 
> 99,998 of
> them) and navigate by level, page, sentence, word, character, etc., 
> depending upon
> the mark-up available in a particular book. You can navigate to a specific 
> heading,
> such as a chapter or section heading, as well as a specific page (again, 
> if page
> indications are available in a given book). In text files, you can use the 
> telephone-style
> keypad for text input to locate a specific word or phrase. You can jump 
> forward and
> back by increments of time (1, 5, 10, or 30 minutes) or by percentages of 
> the entire
> file. Navigation, in other words, is extremely flexible, intuitive, and 
> quick.
> Consider the Source
> Probably the most appealing feature of the Victor Stratus is its ability 
> to use a
> variety of media sources. While the Stratus has no internal memory for 
> storing your
> files, it can have a ton of material on-board at any given time. You can, 
> for example,
> insert an SD card loaded with talking books, text files, podcasts, and 
> music along
> with a USB drive containing a similarly vast amount of content, while also 
> popping
> in a CD of your favorite banjo player or DAISY-formatted textbook. By 
> using the bookshelf
> function ("1" on the keypad), you can easily move among these sources of 
> content,
> going from one to another and then navigating the folders or tracks 
> contained therein.
> Extra Features
> A key describer mode is available to tell you the function of every key, 
> and the
> user guide, which also comes on a CD with your unit, is always available 
> internally.
> This guide has four levels of navigation as well as being navigable by 
> word, line,
> sentence, or page (or by searching for a particular word or phrase) so 
> that locating
> specific references is convenient and quick.
> Above the Play/Stop key is the Sleep key. When first pressed, this key 
> results in
> an announcement of the time and date. Second and subsequent presses are 
> for the Sleep
> Timer and thus allow the user to set the machine to play for 15, 30, 45, 
> or 60 minutes
> before automatically powering off. (By using the numbers on the keypad, 
> you can also
> customize the Sleep Timer to play for a specific amount of time before 
> shutting down.)
> When playing a CD, the Speed control is still available to you, making it 
> possible
> to speed up text or audio generated by a CD in the same way that you would 
> with other
> digital material. Because the required folder structure is similar to that 
> of the
> Victor Reader Stream, SD cards formatted for that device can easily be 
> accessed with
> the Victor Stratus as well.
> Drawbacks
> The Victor Stratus does not have an on-board recorder. Although it will 
> play material
> first played on the Victor Reader Stream, it will not play notes recorded 
> on that
> device and stored in the Notes folder. A further disappointment was that, 
> even though
> the Stratus has a Copy CD feature, it only works when copying 
> DAISY-formatted CDs.
> For that reason, the copy feature was not tested for this review.
> When powering on, the familiar "Victor" voice welcomes the user, but the 
> delay between
> the beep confirming that Power has been pressed and the subsequent 
> "Welcome to Victor
> Stratus" message seems rather long. The particular unit tested would not 
> accept a
> battery charge after the first few charging cycles. (After repeated 
> attempts to charge
> the battery failed, removing the user-replaceable battery from its 
> compartment for
> 15 seconds and replacing it ultimately resolved this problem.)
> Conclusions
> The Victor Stratus is a sturdy and compact unit capable of playing a wide 
> variety
> of text and audio content. Its built-in speaker is excellent, so listening 
> without
> headphones is pleasant and comfortable. It delivers clear, crisp sound and 
> has the
> added advantage of playing both commercial and DAISY-formatted CDs. The 
> presence
> of both an SD and USB port renders it an excellent choice for playing 
> content from
> a variety of sources.
> For a person who would prefer having just one device for playing music, 
> books, and
> text files, it could be a great choice. If recording and portability are 
> high priorities,
> however, the Victor Stratus would best play the role of supporting actor 
> in your
> technology toolbox.
> Product Information
> Product: Victor Reader Stratus 12M DAISY MP3 Player
> Price: $455
> Available from:
> HumanWare
> 800-722-3393
> Manufacturer's Comments
> HumanWare would like to thank AccessWorld
> for this thorough review of the Victor Reader Stratus. As the author 
> highlights,
> the simplicity of the Stratus's hardware interface, high quality speaker, 
> and ability
> to interface with a multitude of storage media, including the SD cards 
> from the Victor
> Reader Stream, allows it to be a device that can be immediately used and 
> enjoyed
> by users of all technological backgrounds.
> Greg Stilson, HumanWare Technical Product Manager of Braille Products
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