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A weekend with the Blaze EZ

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP

First, HIMS made the BookSense.  It was a fine little device which could play all of your books and media.  It’s the pocket-sized version of the large, but free, Digital Talking Book player available from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. We saw a few iterations of the BookSense, and ours is still alive and well in the MDTAP AT Library.

But, as it does, technology has moved on.  We demand more features from our devices and the Blaze EZ delivers. Not only can you read books from BARD and BookShare, not to mention Audible, Learning Allies, etc., you can also download podcasts, stream web content and more. There is one more format supported by the Blaze EZ—print.  That’s right, it comes equipped with a 5MP camera and can perform OCR (optical character recognition) on printed material.

If you name the thing “EZ”, operating it should not be overly complicated.  In fact, I had it up and running in just a few minutes.  The quick start guide told me everything I needed to know.  I connected it to the office WiFi and was downloading books right away.

The Blaze EZ is powerful and it has potential to do even more.  For example, you can set the time and date—the time can be announced by tapping the power button. I do wonder though, where are the alarms or calendar reminders with accompanying voice memos? This seems like an easy add-on for future updates.

BlueTooth support has been added, so you can play the audio through wireless speakers through BlueTooth headsets. It’s possible reading Braille books could be supported in the future by connecting to a BlueTooth refreshable Braille display. No other device on the market can boast this functionality.

For now, I crown the Blaze EZ the king of the accessible audio bookreader. It may cost more than the competition, but the excellent OCR functionality makes up for it.

As a reminder, we have at least four different types of audio book players in the AT Library. Come see which one fits your needs.



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