Does the New Book Sense Make Sense?

The review below appeared on Blind Bargaisn yesterday.

There are two types of blind people in the world. Those who own a Victor Stream and those who don’t. The decision on whether or not to purchase the new Book Sense from GW Micro may largely fall on which of these groups you come from.

First, the basics. The Book Sense is yet another entry in the market for portable audio book readers. With a form factor similar to a candy bar style cell phone, the Book Sense is smaller than the stream. It includes a numeric keypad, a five-way navigation pad, and dedicated buttons for playback, recording, hearing the date and time, and other functions.

Compared to the stream, there are several inherent advantages with the Book Sense. It plays more formats including Microsoft Word .DOC and .DOCX files. It can record directly to high-quality .MP3. You can charge the Book Sense directly from your computer’s USB port. And the XT version includes an FM radio, 4GB of built-in memory, and Bluetooth headset support.
To read the rest, go to LightHouse is curious to know how well the FM radio actually work…? Anyone?

4 thoughts on “Does the New Book Sense Make Sense?”

  1. First, I have to point out, I own a Stream. So my response is not entirely neutral. The only difference between the Book Sense Standard and the XT is that the XT has 4gb internal memory, Bluetooth, and fm radio. Thus for me, these 3 features are not worth an extra $150. Remember that the Book Sense has a battery life of approximately 12 hours. I say approximately because manufacturers always exaggerate when it comes with battery life. The Bluetooth is made for wireless headsets. Bluetooth eat up battery power like a car drinking gasoline. Therefore if you use a Bluetooth headset with your Book Sense, the battery life is reduced considerably. I will soon be able to play with a Book Sense Standard. I will let everyone know my impressions.

  2. I finally got my hands on a Book Sense and played with it extensively. Here are just a few of my impressions.

    The good:
    The interface is faster than the Victor Stream, making response time shorter and browsing faster. The player itself is thinner, and lighter than the Stream, making it that much more portable. The Book Sense feels like an average size cell phone. Using the built-in speakers, the Sense is louder and has more volume than the Stream, because it has 2 spekaers compare to the Stream which only has 1.

    The bad:
    If you are planning to use the Book Sense as a replacement for your music player, right now is not the right time. On a side-by-side comparison between the Sense and the Stream, I have 3 complaints about music quality. 1. Music from the Sense has a slight distorted choppy effect. I believe this is from a poor Digital-To-Analogue converter, possibly a mismatch in sampling frequency. This produces an effect where the music isn’t as crisp and smooth sounding as it should be. 2. The high frequencies are absent. This is roughly around 15000Hz and higher. Typical sounds in this range are percussions, the hissing sounds generally produced from cassettes and records, and some people’s vocal sounds are up there too. Without this range of sounds, music doesn’t have its crisp clear quality. 3. The middle ranges and base ranges seem to be slightly boosted. I thought it might have been from the equalizer, but it was set to normal. With this slight boost of low and mid frequencies, the music has a slight hollow effect, as if you are playing music from the inside of a wooden box. It’s not that bad, but you can definitely hear it.

    The last item of note is the headphone volume in the Book Sense. With speakers, it’s louder than the Stream. But with headphones, the Stream has more punch than the Sense.

    I hope these are things which can be fixed with software updates, just like the Stream. As of now, I’m sticking with my Stream.

  3. I’d like to add a few more comments:

    As for the music, I’ve been playing some classical and electronica music down here in the store from my Booksense. I disagree about the middle and high pitches an frequencies you’ve commented on, shen. I had the equalizer setting on normal, but played around with it and changed it according to the type of music I was listening to. This helped.

    I do agree that the punch for head phone volume isn’t the same as the Victor. I do love the fact that the external speakers are loud.

    A few other things to note:
    1. It is much easier on the BookSense to lock and unlock your player.

    2. I like the folder structure on the booksense. It makes sense to me. It might seem more complicated to others.

    3. I love the Nio Speech on the Booksense. I am now listening to documents on the BookSense that I just refused to listen to on the Victor because I hated the Victor voice. I’m listening to Newsline on the Booksense and I’m listening to some health and fitness articles on the BookSense. I just use to not read them or read them on my Braille Note because I just couldn’t stand the voice on the Victor. Nio Speech is much more pleasing to the ear.

    4. I like the interface of the Booksense and the smaller size. It is smaller than the N82.

    5. I like the future potential of the bookSense. Because it has Bluetooth capability in the XT version, GW Micro is hoping to be able to connect to Braille displays. How cool would it be to read documents on a Braille displayed connected to the player instead of a lap top?

    6. I don’t find myself charging the Booksense any more than I do the Victor. It measures battery power on a scale of 1 to 10. Yesterday morning it was at a ten. I played some music on it throughout the afternoon. I was listening to a book for about 3 hours. I fell asleep with the BookSense on. I engaged sleep mode, but forgot to unlock the hold so it couldn’t power down. It was on all night and in the morning the power was down to 4.

    That’s my input for now.

  4. LM,
    In terms of sound quality, I’m wondering if there may be differences between the XT and the standard. My impressions were based on the standard and I know you have an XT. I think it’s certainly not a bad product on its maiden launch. And hopefully with software updates, it will become the player we have come to expect.

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