Humanware’s Victor Reader Stream New Generation audio book and text file reader, has some seriously extended capabilities as compared to the original Victor Reader Stream.
In short, this second generation Victor Reader e reader has been Internet enabled. Not only can it connect to the Internet via WiFi to download new firmware updates, but it now can also play thousands of Internet radio stations via Ootunes, and hundreds of podcasts also, and can directly download talking books directly from the National Library Service for the Blind. Big enhancements among many others, have pushed the Stream 2 way up into premier status as a smart audio book player that is completely accessible to vision impaired and profoundly blind customers.
The following comments we based on version 4.4.8 of the firmware.
Benefits, Features, Advantages, and Pros of the Victor Reader Stream New Generation Player
Plays Thousands of Internet Radio Stations
Plus, the links to these stations are not stored internally. Instead they maintain them in the cloud, on the Ootunes web site. This makes them more dynamic, in that to the end user, broken or changed URLs magically fix themselves eventually, and often transparently, as the folks at Ootunes update their vast radio station database. This relieves the Stream user from having to update a local list of audio links.
A small drawback of this though, is that you must wait for Ootunes to fix a broken station URl, even if you have a valid URL. This Stream does not support easy manual entry of new station URLs locally. You cannot enter them on the numeric keypad for example. Should you discover one that does not play, and then, using a computer, figure out one that does, then to get the station list in the Stream updated, you must forward the new URL to Ootunes support personnel, and then wait for them to update the database before your Stream will play the station correctly. Normally, this process is pretty short. But it can take days at times.
Plays Hundreds of Podcasts
This Victor Reader also manages those podcasts automatically without the assistance of a computer. It downloads new podcast episodes for feeds to which the user has subscribed. It also deletes old episodes that have already been listened to.
Plays DAISY Books
You can listen to DAISY talking books (audio file based) as well as DAISY organized text book files.
Stores a Small Talking Book Library
On the included SD card, as well as in the internal system memory, you can keep many tens of talking books. So load up your Victor Reader before taking that long trip. Then, you’ll never run out of great books to read.
Popular Audio File Formats Supported
Plays AAC, MP3, MP4, EPUB, WAV, 3GP, and numerous other media file formats.
Clear Text-to-Speech Voices
The built-in voice choices announce book titles, station titles, configuration settings, and can read text, Word, and Rich Text files aloud. You can also adjust the speed speed of the reading, along with tone and volume levels.
Independent Volume Setting Memories
The stream remembers separate volume settings for each, the built in speaker and earbuds. Eliminates the need to turn the volume down a bit before switching to earphones.
On Board Help System
The help system and users guide text files are also present on the included 4 GB SDHC card.
No Computer Needed
Can download talking books from NLS without need for a personal computer.
Direct Internet Access to BARD Online Library
Can search the BARD library for free online audio books to download.
Less Bulky Size
Significantly smaller than the original model 303 Victor Reader Stream. Handheld for convenience. It’s also pretty lightweight as well, weighing in at roughly four ounces.
Improved Volume and Fidelity
The Victor Reader Stream new generation podcast player plays much more loudly than the debut Stream, and the sound has more bass; though it still sounds like a small-speaker device.
The key compliment on the new generation Victor Reader includes: Bookshelf, Airplane Mode, Book Mark, the number keys (1 through 0 and including the star and pound keys), Sleep, Rewind, Fast Forward, Play / Pause, Power, Volume / Speed / Tone, and Record.
Some of the keys actuate more than one function, like the Zero key that doubles as the Information key, and the volume Up / Down keys that also can raise and lower the announce speed as well as the tone.
Minimal but Complete Access Port Compliment
The ports include: USB Data / Charge, Headphone, and external Mic input.
Long-Lasting Rechargeable Battery
Even with all the new features and functions, the lithium ion battery still lasts roughly 15 hours per charge. With proper maintenance, this battery can last longer than five years, and replacement is available at the Humanware web site.
AC Wall Charger Included
Can charge the New Gen Stream with a USB wall adapter. Though Humanware ships a USB charger with every new Stream, other (perhaps less expensive) wall chargers will also work, although they might not charge this as quickly as the adapter supplied by Humanware.
Compatible USB Cords Provided
The provided Long USB cable not only functions as a charge cable. But it’s also a data exchange cord that you can use to connect this Stream to a PC. The provided Short USB cord allows you to listen to content stored on a USB thumb drive.
High fidelity Earbuds
You also get a set of decent-sounding earbuds for book playing, although if listening to hi-fi music is your thing, you might wish to invest in a more music-grade earphone set, from brand such as Skullcandy or JBL et al. The ones included are best suited for speech, we feel.
USB 2.0 data Rates Now Supported
The USB port carries data at much faster rates. This micro USB port behaves as a USB 2.0 port, allowing for much more rapid data transfers to and from the New Gen Stream, as compared to the original Victor Reader Stream.
High Capacity SD Card Option
Has an SDHC card slot that officially supports SD cards as large as 32 gigabytes. 64 gigabyte cards have been used successfully. But their use is not supported by Humanware at this time.
Digital Voice Recorder Function
Can record thousands of hours of voice notes in WAV or MP3 format, of virtually unlimited length, with the internal condenser microphone. Can also record line level audio sources.
Builds on the Previous Model Victor Stream
That part of the user interface that was included in the original Victor Reader Stream, still works the same way in this Victor Reader Stream New Generation model.
Case and Other Accessories Widely Available
Leather cases are available from third parties like Executive Products.
Automatic Software Updates
Get updates via the wireless internet connection for free.
In addition to the online manuals, you also can access online help and support networks.
Disadvantages, Problems, Limitations, and Cons
Internet Radio Cuts Out a Lot
The internet radio functionality has some stability problems in our experience. Even with very good to excellent WiFi signal connections, stations frequently drop out, and then, the new gen Stream begins with that “Please Wait…please wait… please wait…” message. When played alongside a different Internet radio, both playing the same station audio stream, this Victor Reader loses connection to the stream much more often. We’re eager for the next version of the firmware, which will hopefully, correct many of these failures.
No 3gp Recording
The voice recorder function no longer records in ANR Wideband Audio (.3gp) format. Instead, this new version of the Victor Reader now records in MP3 format, which consumes more space per hour than the old .3gp files. However, .3gp files recorded on the original Stream are still playable on this one.
Recorded Audio with Built In Mic Sounds Muffled
The recorded audio is not as clear as in the original Stream, though it’s still quite intelligible.
This device relies heavily on cloud-based components, like Ootunes and Humenware infrastructures. Failure of any of these systems disables Internet radio functionality on this Stream also.
So you cannot play this through Bluetooth speakers and headsets.
No Web Browsing
Currently does not support audio web browsing or surfing.
No Digital Readout
Without some sort of display screen, this Stream may not suit well the hard of hearing.
WiFi Connections a Bit Hard to Maintain
Two Stream owners, ourselves included have experienced difficult to diagnose WiFi connect problems on this device. We at times get the “Unable to connect…” message, on this Stream, even though we’ve connected successfully to the same WiFi network with other wireless devices. Read our Solving WiFi Connection Problems on the New Generation Victor Reader Stream for more details.
We’re highly pleased with the numerous and extensive advances that Humanware has made on the blind friendly Victor Reader Stream platform, with this New Generation Stream hardware and firmware, and yet, the sale price of this unit is just $20 more than it was seven years ago for the original Stream. Lots more stuff, in a smaller package, for just a modest increase in price.
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References for the Victor Reader Stream New Generation Audio Book Player
- Executive Products Web Site
- Humanware Web Site
- Ootunes Web Site
- Victor Reader Stream New Generation Product Web Page
- 2019-02-21: Added tags and subheadings, along with key phrase targeting.
- 2017-02-13: Revised the tags list.
- 2015-11-16: Added appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-22: Added more content and appropriate tags.
- 2015-08-30: Added a ‘Suggested Reading’ section.
- 2014-11-15: Added link to Executive Products, a company that sells Victor Reader Stream leather cases. Also added mention of a specific wireless connection problem that a few of us have experienced on this Internet enabled Victor Reader.
- 2014-11-13: Originally published.