[Vrstream] VR Trek Review From a UK User

Kerry Fielding littlemisslovely1973 at me.com
Tue Dec 12 04:52:26 EST 2017

Hi all.

Well, having had my Trek for almost 2 weeks I thought I'd write a bit of 
a review and some of my observations and possible wish list items.

Firstly, let me say for those of you who may have missed it, When 
Humanware shipped the UK Treks out to us, they made one colossal 
mistake.  Basically, we were sent US Treks with US firmware on them but 
in UK boxes.  Having received mine on 30 November, and upon discovering 
that I could not get any form of GPS and also that I wasn't the only 
one, Humanware were made aware of the problem and, by Friday they had a 
fix.  This fix involved shipping SD cards over from Canada with the UK 
licensed software in it which we then put into our Treks and installed.  
Not being content to wait and having a fair amount of computer Nouse, I 
asked them if it were not possible to download said software and do this 
myself.  I was told that I could and within a couple of hours I had the 
link to do so with very clear instructions on how I needed to go about 
updating my Trek.  I eventually got around to this on Saturday and 
discovered that the update process was indeed extremely quick but 
downloading the relevant software (which was about 11GB) and then 
copying it across to the SD card (16GB minimum by the way) took an 
absolute age.  Anyway, with that done, I was ready to start my Trek 
journey.  I thought I would share my findings with you and maybe some of 
you can say whether you have had the same experiences.

GPS: initially, when I got my device up and running with the correct 
software, it took over an hour to connect. However, once I put it by a 
window, the connection was picked up very quickly. Once
I had gained the initial GPS lock, I put it by the window every time I 
wished to use it and it locked on  within about a minute at the very 
most.  However, I experienced significant battery loss last week when 
listening to a book on the off-line bookshelf, even though my Wi-Fi and 
Bluetooth were off. The only thing that was left on was my GPS, so, I 
turned it off. I hadn’t used it for a couple of days after that and when 
I turned it on again yesterday, it took me around 10 minutes to get a 
connection with my device sitting on the windowsill.  I have also 
noticed that the device fluctuates between naming my street and telling 
me I am near a three way intersection which is correct, to saying I am 
on a street with no name and near a four way intersection. Not sure
what that is all about and I have told Humanware about it. They say, 
that as they are not in my location, it is difficult to know whether the 
problem is with maps or with the device itself. Fluctuation between 
these two states can happen within seconds.  I have also noticed that, 
if you use any sort of headphones at all (I have Aftershokz  bone 
conducting bluez 2S headphones) that there is no outdoor mode in terms 
of volume. I suspect this is so that  you don’t damage your hearing, but 
haven’t tried with a pair of headphones with wires, so don’t know if 
that would make things any different. Either way,
the device does seem plenty loud enough to hear while in busy traffic 
situations.  I haven’t looked at what my GPS level is like. I know you 
can do this, I’ve just forgotten how.  I have put in a fair amount of 
landmarks as well and really like how quickly and easily you can do 
this. Some
of them weren’t  necessary, but I have done it just for the sake of 
playing with the device. I have also input an address and used the 
indoor preview mode to walk a route which I also really liked.  I have 
used the device in vehicle mode once. This seemed to work quite well, 
though, it didn’t tell me where things were, just that we were passing 
them. I’m talking about streets here. I don’t have points of interest 
switched on as a default. I did try yesterday, when I was walking with 
the Trek in explore mode, and noticed that there were an awful lot of 
mistakes with shops that either no longer existed or had been replaced. 
Again, this is something I have brought
to the attention of humanware  and the fact that we as blind users 
cannot update the maps satisfactorily as the interface to do this is 
graphical in nature.

My wish list for GPS is as follows:

I would like to see the simulation mode replicated. If you don’t know 
what I mean by this, in BlindSquare on the iPhone, you can go to a 
destination, and then simulate
that destination to get an idea of what’s around you.  I would also like 
to be able to create a route from destinations other than my current 
one. This would be really useful if you were going somewhere and were 
unfamiliar with the area. I have only used the device in familiar areas 
currently so haven’t really put it to the test in terms of how I would 
get on in an unfamiliar one. Although I have created landmarks for 
crossings, I would like to have road crossings announced
to me. I’m talking about zebra, pelican and puffin crossings here. The 
route that I travel to get from my local train station to my house 
involves crossing over the road. Although obviously, I know where the 
crossings are in order to do this, someone who is not familiar with the 
area who wanted to walk from the train station to my house, may not, and 
would perhaps benefit from this. I know if I were in an unfamiliar area, 
I certainly would like this feature.  Given that the maps are based on 
taking the safest walking areas for VIPs you would think that designated 
crossing points would be a must.
Failing that, I wonder if it would be possible to share roots with other 
people. So, if someone who uses the trek is coming to your house and has 
never walked in the area before, you could create them a route with 
landmarks such as crossings and send it to them. That would be pretty 
cool.  Then again, if you were able to create a route between two points 
and you didn’t have to be in either of them to do this, you wouldn’t 
need to share I suppose.

Off-line bookshelf: I have used this feature a little, and have put 
textbooks and MP3 books on my device. So far, so good, except for one 
incident where I was listening to a book and it started to stammer. Not 
sure yet whether this was a problem that occurred when the CD was 
initially ripped or not. I suspect it may well have been because I wound 
back through the offending portion and the stammering still occurred.

Although I am not 100 percent sure about this, to me, volume level does 
seem slightly quieter than on the second generation stream. I could be 
wrong about this, but I have noticed that when listening to the device 
in a situation with a lot of background noise, I do have to have it on 
full volume.  I also noticed a bit of a battery drop too.  I was listening
to said talking book for just over an hour last Wednesday night and my 
battery went from 30% to 20%.  Bear in mind that the only thing that was 
on was the GPS.  HW didn't seem overly concerned about this but I then 
started turning off the GPS when it wasn't in use to see if this would 
slow down the drainage.  I'm still testing to see whether it makes a 
significant difference.

Online bookshelf:  I have used the radio stations feature a little, and 
have created a favourites playlist. I can access most things except for 
the local radio station in my area. When I press the play button to 
listen to it, I get a message that says station failed to start. Not 
entirely sure what this is about, but it is something I do need to point 
out to Humanware. Has anyone else experienced this.

Podcasts do seem to download a little quicker for me, but then again I 
only had the
second generation stream for a couple of weeks so can’t really remember 
how quickly downloads took place on it so I can’t really give a 
definitive opinion on  this.  What did happen to me the other day though 
when I was listening to podcasts was that, after about an hour, my 
machine started stuttering and stammering, to the point where it just 
stopped playing and no amount of pressing the play or pause button would 
make it start again. At the time, it was plugged into the mains. I 
switched it off, got the double vibration and then got a second double 
vibration. When I turned it back on again in the hopes that I could 
carry on listening, The player said “player connected“ and the buttons 
were unresponsive and simply beeped whenever I pressed them. I ended up 
the unit off again, getting two sets of double vibrations like 
previously mentioned, taking it off the mains, and powering it on again. 
time, it came back to life with no problems whatsoever.  I emailed 
Humanware about both of these problems and am awaiting a response.

I am also due to receive my case today.  We were told upon initial 
shipment of the devices that we would need to wait until January but it 
seems that as with the software issue, Humanware have exceeded all 
expectations and have rectified initial shipping and device problems 
extremely quickly.

Hope people find this useful and I'd be interested in some compare and 
contrasts here.



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