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NLS: That All May Read

NLS/BPH Digital Talking Book Player and Cartridge

Digital talking book player and mailing container for book. Digital talking book player and cartridge with open book mailing container.
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  Digital talking book player and cartridge with open book mailing container.


The two pictures of the player and cartridge on the cover of the Strategic Business Plan 2006 were sent to members of the NLS National Advisory Committee on Audio Equipment after its September meeting with encouragement to disseminate them. As a result, William Graczyk of the Wisconsin regional library and committee member posted a detailed description on a web site for blind readers, for the benefit of patrons who can not see the photographic images. The following description updates his.

The player pictured is the basic model. The player is about 6 by 9 by 2 inches, in comparison with the cassette book machine (CBM), which is 9 by 11 by 3 inches, or 108 cu. in. compared to 300 cu. in. Weight of the digital talking book player is slightly over two pounds compared to the C-1's seven pounds. The body of the player is dark charcoal grey to create maximum visual contrast between the background of the case and the colors of the buttons.

The Rewind, Play and Fast Forward controls are centered and are close to the front edge of the player: The square green Play button controls stopping and starting playback of the book. The white triangular Rewind and Fast Forward buttons to the left and right of the Play button move through the book more quickly the more times they are pressed. Each key press gives audible feedback about how far ahead or back the user is moving. Just behind the navigation buttons are the Power, Sleep and Volume buttons: The round red Power button turns the player on and off. It is close to the left edge of the player. The white Sleep button, shaped like a crescent moon, will turn the player off thirty minutes after it is pressed. It is centered, just behind the Play button. The yellow Volume controls are shaped like arrowheads pointing up and down. They are close to the right edge of the player. Just behind these controls is a raised line running from one side of the player to the other. This line divides the six most frequently used controls located towards the front of the player from the Tone and Speed controls which are located behind the tactile raised line and on either side of the round speaker.

Both Tone and Speed are shaped like the Volume buttons, up and down arrowheads, and are along its narrow axis. The Tone buttons are close to the left edge of the player; the Speed button is close to the right edge. The Volume, Tone, and Speed controls all announce each press of the button, e.g. "tone lower," "tone higher," "tone middle," with similar announcements for the other controls. The Speed control changes the speech from 50% to 300% of normal, with no change in pitch.

The white band along the front edge of the player is a pull-out handle, similar to the one on the CBM. Above the handle is the opening for the digital talking book cartridge. On the right side of the player are the headphone jack, with a brightly-colored surround for easy location (color is yet to be determined). Next to the jack is a USB port for repair personnel to use for diagnostic information.

On the back side of the machine, as on the back of the CBM, is a compartment for storing the power cord. On the bottom of the player are four rubber feet, the door to the battery compartment, and two inset bars for attaching a carrying strap. There is also plenty of room for identification labels.

The advanced model, which is also at the nearly-final prototype stage, is exactly the same size but has a second row of controls between the Power, Sleep and Volume controls and the speaker. The advanced controls are for setting and retrieving bookmarks and for navigating through the structured levels of a NISO book.

The cartridge shipping container is slightly longer and wider than a green cassette box but only half the thickness. The color will not necessarily be blue, despite the photo.

The cartridge itself is the size of a cassette, but with a more complex shape. The end of the cartridge with the round finger hole is slightly thicker than a cassette, with square sides, but is also beveled, so that when that end of the cartridge is pressed down on a flat surface in front of the player, the other end of the cartridge, with the USB connector, tilts up and can slide smoothly into the player. The end of the cartridge with the USB connector is also beveled, but with the bevels slanting toward the center of the cartridge, so that there is only one way it will fit into the player.

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Posted on 2013-06-28