Hi Jamie Thanks for clarifying RNIB's position, both privately and on this list.I would add that when I asked SoundTalking if I could write a review of the Orion Web Box, they agreed on the condition that I sought permission from Ted Davis before any such article could be published.
So, having written the review this week, I indeed sent it to Ted for his approval. He "specifically" asked me not to send it to RNIB for publication at this stage, which I haven't, and that I could distribute it among Email lists, which I have done.
So, as far as I personally am concerned, I tried out the Orion Web Box to solve my own curiosity to see if it was the path I wanted to take, and to write a fair and balanced review to let others know of its existence and features.
Ted gave me all the information regarding the participants involved, so if this is incorrect, then he must be responsible for that as he sanctioned the review after it was written.
Personally, I think everyone wants their heads banging together over this. It's a bloody tool for the end user, and why politics have to come into play I honestly don't know and don't care. I wouldn't buy it anyway, and I haven't been paid so much as a peanut for writing the review. I did it because I wanted to. (smiles.)
Thanks Jamie for clarifying. I have sent a good number of reviews privately, so hope it has proved useful, which was always my intention.
Jackie Email: cairnsplace@xxxxxxx Skype Name: Cairnsplace----- Original Message ----- From: "Jamie Cuthbertson" <jamie.cuthbertson@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 5:20 PM Subject: [access-uk] Orion Webbox review - clarification
Hi list, I read Jackie's review of the Orion Webbox with interest and would like to clarify a little of the detail. First a bit of background to explain my link with the Orion Webbox. I apologise in advance for the length of this posting. Last year I was asked to run a trial of the Orion Webbox on RNIB's behalf and this started around April/May. We trialled the unit with around 90 participants, living mainly in the Glasgow and Gloucestershire areas. Athorough evaluation of the system was conducted in October. The evaluationreport was finished earlier this year. For the purposes of the trial, RNIB made available a selection of internet radio stations, talking books, magazines and newspapers and podcasts, oneach of the playlists. This playlist is different from, though similar to,that offered by Sound Talking.Although the official trial period is over, some of our trialists still havetheir webboxes and can access the playlist that was provided. As yet, however, there has been no decision taken about how long this will be the case.For clarification, in Jackie's article, she says "In addition, both RNIB andCalibre have included talking books which they say they will update at regular intervals." I cannot comment on behalf of Calibre, however, I think it is only fair to point out that the RNIB Talking Books that are currently available on the Sound Talking playlist are only sample titles that were made available tothe Sound Talking trialists, who participated in a similar trial at the endof 2007 and into early 2008. There is no plan at present to change, amend or add to this list of books - they are only samples to show what can be done. The general feedback from our trialists was that this kind of technology provides very exciting possibilities, but there is a great deal of discussion still to be had around issues such as content, how multiple organisations can participate, standards, features, user control ofplaylists and so on. In the next few weeks there are due to be meetings totake forward this discussion and these will bring together many of the organisations which currently have a vested interested in the subject.Having completed the evaluation process reasonably recently, it is entirelyright and proper that all organisations that wish to investigate a future service of this type, take an appropriate amount of time to thoroughly investigate all the issues in order to ensure that, if a service is to be established, that it meets all the needs of the end users. This is theapproach that RNIB is currently taking and I'm sure that you will agree thatthis is sensible.I hope this clarifies the existing situation. If anyone wishes to be sent acopy of the RNIB trial evaluation of the Orion Webbox, please feel free to contact me at my RNIB email address: Jamie.cuthbertson@xxxxxxxxxxx Regards, Jamie mentions that both RNIB and Calibre content is available and that ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----From: access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf OfJackie Cairns Sent: 27 March 2008 17:33 To: Access UK Mailing List Subject: [access-uk] Solutions In A Box? - Orion Web Box Internet Radio Review Due to popular demand, I have been asked to post the below review to thelist. Draw your own conclusions from its contents, and I'm happy to answerany questions that I can. Jackie SOLUTIONS IN A BOX? THE ORION WEB BOX INTERNET RADIO JACKIE CAIRNS There are now thousands of radio stations worldwide that one may tune into over the Internet. And this way of accessing radio has become so popular that several manufacturers such as Intempo and Roberts have brought out stand-alone devices that allow you to listen to your favourite programmes without using a PC. But while Internet radio, as it is known, is commercially available andaffordable, it isn't accessible for those with little or no sight. With so much material to choose from, operating an Internet radio if you don't have enough vision to read the display is a daunting prospect. But thanks to the collaboration of Dutch company Solutions Radio, and UK charity SoundTalking- which is the commercial outlet of the popular Talking Newspaper Association of the United Kingdom (TNAUK) - an Internet radio with speech feedback is now available. This piece reviews a trial Orion Web Box, supplied by SoundTalking, and outlines what users may expect from the service in the coming months. CONTROLS AND FEATURESThe Orion Web Box is a sturdy rectangular-shaped device in contrasting black and grey colours. It is slightly sloped so that the back is higher than the front, with a speaker, all its controls, and small display positioned on thetop. When the Web Box is facing you, the speaker grill occupies the portiontowards the back of the machine, with small display, five buttons and rotaryvolume control/mute/pause/bookmark facility nearer to the front. A mainsoutlet, RJ45 ethernet connection, two phono sockets and phone connectors areat the rear of the unit. The five round buttons are arranged in a sighted L-shape further to thefront of the unit. The first one is up, below which is down, below which isthe OK or Accept button. To the right of the OK is Back, followed by On/Off. The rotary volume/mute/pause/bookmark control is in the middle of the L-shape, and is very distinctive to feel and turn. To mute or pause what you are listening to, simply press down the rotary control, and pressagain to continue. The control, when pressed down and held, also acts as abookmark facility. The small display comprises black text on a yellow background. But as a totally blind person, I could not say how easy this would be to use for those with limited sight.In the middle of the front edge of the Web Box is a small round sensor whichdetects the accompanying remote control. This small hand-held control allows the same functionality as the Web Box itself.Before turning on the Web Box, it needs to be mains powered and connected tothe accompanying ethernet cable to provide access to the Internet. Oncethis is done, press the bottom right button to switch on the device. A fewshort beeps indicates that the Web Box has power, and is proceeded by thefollowing: "Hello and welcome to SoundTalking Internet radio. Press the OKbutton when you hear the subject of your choice. You can choose from: Announcements; Bookmark Facility; National Radio Stations; Local Radio Stations; Local Talking Newspapers; National Talking Newspapers andMagazines; SoundTalking Publications; Soundings Magazine; Info Sound; Musicfor Blind; Calibre Books; RNIB Talking Books; Podcasts; Useful Informationon the Orion Web Box." You may intercept this list of choices at any pointby pressing the OK button to enter a sub-menu with further choices. Alternatively, if you know the choices off by heart, you can quickly go upand down to find the item you want more rapidly using the buttons describedabove. At the end of the list read out, the voice continues with: "As you have made no choice, this menu will be repeated."As you have now discovered, the Orion Web Box is more than just an Internetradio. It has been designed to accept the entire range of TNAUK publications which is an annual subscription service. In addition, bothRNIB and Calibre have included talking books which they say they will update at regular intervals. These publications may be bookmarked, with a currentlimit of up to 10. As an avid radio listener, and most anxious to access this aspect of the Orion Web Box, I discovered that the trial unit contains only 25 national and 14 local stations which may be increased on request to SoundTalking. These stations are all easily accessed by choosing either the national or local radio stations list from the main menu, and then selecting the preferred station from the sub-menu. Again, the list will be repeated if you make no selection, and just pressing the OK button allows you to make your choice. A series of beeps ensues while you wait for your selected radio station to commence.The speech menus are clear and straightforward to follow. No prior computerknowledge is required to operate the Web Box, apart from the fact you must have an Internet connection so that the radio can find the necessary information.For those who prefer to use Wi-Fi, or wireless connectivity, a model of theWeb Box supporting this capability is available for an extra charge.I was disappointed to discover that the Orion Web Box is only a mono radio, both from its external speaker and through headphone listening. A supplied lead with two phono jacks at one end can be connected to the rear of the WebBox, with a 3.5MM socket at the other that allows attachment to your ownheadphones. It looks like a stereo device because of its two phono sockets,but it is, in fact, mono. The Orion Web Box is available in two flavours from SoundTalking. Thestandard ethernet version costs £279, and the wireless option £315. This is in stark contrast to commercially available Internet radios which cost from£99 to £200. The commercial alternatives also support approximately 6,000 stations worldwide, and update automatically when new channels are added. You can choose from country or genre when browsing these radios, and someeven offer the facility to allow you to listen to your own music collectionsfrom your PC. But, as already stated, such an appetising prospect is impossible withoutsufficient sight. At present, therefore, we are faced with a limited optionin the form of the Orion Web Box. It is limited because all stations needto be added by SoundTalking. All stations are also tagged, which means thatthey have to be voice labelled so that the user may identify them. When astation therefore goes out of date, or changes its name, the original speechlabel, or tag, doesn't automatically update, and needs to be alteredmanually. This is costly for the suppliers to upkeep, and is dependent uponregular maintenance.Both partners in this project have assured me that anyone wishing to have aradio station of their choice added to the Orion Web Box can do so by contacting SoundTalking. They also insist the unit will be updated regularly with a variety of books and information from other sources. And they have stated that they will support anyone who purchases an Orion Web Box regardless of whether or not they take out a Talking Newspapers subscription. CONCLUSIONSThis is a compact device with a lot of practicability for those who are notparticularly computer literate, yet want to listen to a variety of radiostations, or TNAUK/RNIB/Calibre publications in one solution. It is easy touse, and contains a straightforward set of print and audio instructions. There is clearly enormous potential for the unit to be developed further, particularly the radio aspect.I do have concerns, however, about long term support for the Web Box. Whiletrials and user feedback have been positive, I cannot help wondering what sort of shelf life such a device will have if it needs constant speech tagging and manual maintenance to ensure everything is kept up-to-date.For further information, contact SoundTalking on 01435 862737, send an Emailto info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, or visit http://www.soundtalking.co.uk/internet-radio-service.html. Glasgow - Proud Host City of the 2014 Commonwealth Games ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Disclaimer: This message is intended only for use of the addressee. If this messagewas sent to you in error, please notify the sender and delete this message.Glasgow City Council cannot accept responsibility for viruses, so pleasescan attachments. 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