Saturday, January 13, 2007

Olympus introduces three accessible recorders

As anybody who has done so would know, purchasing an accessible digital player/recorder in the past has required one to buy either a specially modified, otherwise commercially available product or a specialty product made specifically for the glind. In Both cases, the recorders have been expensive, often costing several times more than what an off the shelf model would cost. Now, that experience is changing.

Olympus is introducing
three accessible digital recorders.
The electronics company is launching its DS-30, DS-40, and DS-50 models, which the company claims are “optimized for downloading, listening to, and creating podcasts.” Olympus is pitching these units as the “all-in-one audio device,” noting that the high sound quality makes them ideal for listening to audio books and music.

What sets this line of recorders apart from any competition is that they are accessible to blind consumers off the shelf.

According to the Olympus press release linked above:
“The three new devices offer a voice confirmation function that can be turned on or off. When turned on, the function enables the devices to speak, helping users to navigate the folders and various set-up options. The pleasant automated voice guides users through the onscreen menus for setting date, time and other menu selecting modes. It also confirms by stating the folder name as the user moves from one folder to another. This enables visually challenged users to easily move through the device's menus, folders and set-up options. An instruction manual will also be available to users as an audio file. Much like any audio book, this option enables users to listen to the instruction manual for quick and easy use.”

The recorders connect with users computers via a USB cable and, via the included software, podcasts are automatically downloaded to the unit when it is connected to the pc. Additionally, the digital recorders are designed to work with,
A commercial site for audio books and spoken word content many blind consumers are already familiar with.

The primary difference between the three units are the storage capacities. The DS-30 holds 256 Mb, the DS-40 512 Mb, and the DS-50 holds 1 Gb.

All of the recorders play files in either the MP3 or WMA format.

Another useful feature of the units is the ability to slow down and speed up the playback of the recordings. The recordings can be slowed down to 50% speed or sped up by 50%, assisting users to either grab specifics or to breeze through recorded lectures.

I was impressed with the devices’ claimed reported battery life. Olympus states that users can get up to 32 hours of use from 2 AAA batteries. (An AC power adaptor is also included with the unit.)

These units are supposed to be available this month. Accessories included are a USB cable, a stereo microphone, stereo headphones, two AAA batteries, and software. The DS 50 also comes with a remote control and a carrying case.

MSRP for these units: DS-30, $149; DS-40, $199; DS-50, 249.
Olympus is leading the way by making products that are accessible out of the box.

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