[access-uk] Re: Freecom freeview USB stick

  • From: "Graham Page" <gpage@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2006 15:59:55 -0000

thanks.  Not really prepared to buy an additional tv card though so not an 
alternative really.


Graham Page

Mobile: 07753 607980
Fax:  0870 706 2773
Email: gpage@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
MSN: gabriel_mcbird@xxxxxxxxxxx
Skype: gabriel_mcbird
----- Original Message ----- 
From: G. McFarlane 
To: access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2006 7:12 PM
Subject: [access-uk] Re: Freecom freeview USB stick

Hi Graham
Checking on the chris-tv website it looks as if it only works for analog tv 
tuner cards. Recently they've linked with an epg program scheduler/guide called 
webshifter and this looks promising. At present Chris-tv has an excellent 
scheduler - you can easily set up start and end times and put the computer into 
standby until the next recording. The webshifter program allows the searching 
of program guides and sends your choices to the scheduler in chris-tv.

It therefore looks as if it will not support the Freecom usb stick but as far 
as the program guide goes the epg in Freecom is great anyway. I'm assuming 
you're asking this because you want to take advantage of the audio description  
recording which I think takes place in chris-tv.

As regards USB1 I don't think Freecom's usb2 stick is recommended as usb1 is 
too slow at capturing.

Hope this helps.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Graham Page 
  To: access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2006 1:33 PM
  Subject: [access-uk] Re: Freecom freeview USB stick

  Hi Gordon.

  Can the Freecom USB stick be used as the TV tuner for Chris-tv?  Also, can 
the Freecom USB stick be used on a machine with only USB 1.1 ports?




  Graham Page

  Mobile: 07753 607980
  Fax:  0870 706 2773
  Email: gpage@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  MSN: gabriel_mcbird@xxxxxxxxxxx
  Skype: gabriel_mcbird
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: G. McFarlane 
  To: access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2006 9:04 AM
  Subject: [access-uk] Re: Freecom freeview USB stick

  Hi Sunil
  The following is a compilation of a couple of emails I wrote a while ago 
about the Freedom USB stick. I'm just pasting them quickly  below to give you 
an idea about it - they're not a definitive review but show something of what 
the stick can do. The current state of play is that they do give an audio 
described channel but it's only the commentary - you can't as yet mix the 
background sound (the original audio) with the voice. They're looking into 
changing this but a week or two ago they were going to release new drivers then 
said they were going to redo them from scratch so it's unlikely there will be 
an upgrade for a month or two.
  However apart from this it's great for getting free stations, recording them, 
time on them and as I've raved before, it's a great electronic programme guide 
which only needs a little jaws graphics labelling. I can thoroughly recommend 
it for the quality price and accessibility - however if it's audio description 
you're looking for it's not a goer at the moment. Another program I have been 
looking at is chris-tv which does the same kind of thing and is pretty well 
keyboard shortcut accessible. It does offer various audio recording facilities 
which probably does include the ability to record and hear audio description 
but as yet I've not experimented in this area. It has a 21 day trial and by all 
reports the quality of picture is good - it uses your tv tuner card and even 
gives an avi file option for recording (as well as mpg).
  It's available at:

  and I must say gives a good measure of control and accessibility in recording 


  Gordon McFarlane

  Now the earlier reports:
  Further to my last comments on this I've had a bit more time to use this. 
Those wh are considering buying it may find the following useful
  The manual comes with a number of keyboard shortcuts, but by phoning the 
extremely helpful helpline and experimentation I've discovered that there are 
  for some of the things I at first thought were going to be inaccessible.
  On the main viewing screen a right click of the mouse or the pressing of the 
context menu key at the right of the keyboard brings up a context menu in which
  many of the major viewing functions and settings can be found. Also 
keypresses are available for most of these functions.
  On the control panel of the program (alt and tab to get there)  it at first 
seems impossible to get the icons at the foot of this - these icons are for
  setting up favourite channels (accessible from the main context menu), an 
open file dialog box (press ctrl and 'o') which allows access to the files you
  have recorded  so you can view them within the program. Right clicking on 
selected file(s) in this dialog box (after tabbing to them) allows a variety
  of functions including burning them to disk.
  There is also a Setup icon (which can also be accessed fromthe main viewing 
window by pressing 'e'.) Here you can scan and alter channel order, setup and
  remove preset recordings, etc. You can have what looks like 100 preset 
recordings and two buttons allow you to delete one preset at a time or all
  The jewel in the crown is the next icon in the control panel - it is the 
electronic preset guide (accessible by pressing ctrl and 'e'). Forgive me if I
  sound enthusiastic but it's the first electronic program guide which I've 
found accessible. if you've found one then I apologise for my ranting.
  You can tab through all the options, setting any of the channels, reading the 
information about the current program on that channel or on the program you
  select from the list which are about to be broadcasted. It takes a second or 
two after getting into the EPG (electronic program guide)  for the program
  to look up the net and input the information but when it's there it's 
marvelous.  I thought at first that it only gave listings for the same day, but 
  I had some sighted help I discovered that when Jaws announced 'tab' when it 
hit a certain field I would then right arrow to the next day, and so on. Once
  on a new day it went straight to the listing for that day. To move to the 
next day it meant tabbing around again to the 'day tabe' again. Using the Jaws
  graphics labeller solved this problem and now it announces the day when it 
hits that tab field. I didn't get the labeller to work automatically though
  - you have to get sighted help to position the cursor then label each day 
icon, but once that's done it works a treat.
  When you find a program you want to record you have to position the Jaws 
cursor over the time and press the left mouse button jaws key on the keypad 
  (the equivalent of double clicking on it). This brings up the record preset 
window and you can check all the times and program name etc. before accepting
  it. (There may be another way of choosing the program you wish to record 
apart from finding the time with the jaws cursor but as yet I haven't found it)
  You can then take away the whole program from the screen and go back to the 
desktop or work on another program. When the program you wish to record is
  about to begin, the program loads itself up and starts recording right on 
  By the way if you do this make sure your computer clock is accurate to the 
second then you'll not miss bits of the program as I did at first.
  One or two things need a bit of jaws cursoring at first but all in all it's 
pretty accessible software for such a new product.
  Hope this helps anyone thinking of purchasing it.

  As promised I'm sending you an email with my congratulations and concerns 
about the Freeview USB2 Stick. I would be obliged if you would pass it on to the
  relevant person(s) as agreed.
  It's great - it's about the only piece of equipment I've come across which 
gives blind people access to this type of equipment. The software has been 
  with most of the functions available by menus and keyboard shortcuts, that 
for a visually impaired person are a Godsend. I'm especially impressed with
  the EPG which for once in this visually impaired notorious area is pretty 
well totally accessible by screen reader. Thank you Freecom.
  Now one or two concerns or requests. Only one or two extras if included would 
make this device almost perfect for blind users. The first and most important
  thing is the use of the audio channels. It's great to be able to switch 
between the two that seem to come with many broadcasts, especially when the 
  track is audio description. However it seems strange that when you switch to 
the alternative audio described track, only the voice is heard describing
  what is going on, not the background soundtrack. I had thought that when 
broadcasters put out these programmes they superimposed the voice over the 
  audio and put them out as one channel - here however the two are still 
separate and not of much use this way. I'm not sure how Freeview boxes work as 
  used to Sky in which I can select a 'Narrative' audio channel in the System 
setup, and when I change channels to an audio described one I hear the voice
  and the background superimposed on each other. Whether the two are separate 
when broadcasted (as with the USB2 Stick) and the box does the superimposing,
  I just don't know. Also whether the normal Freeview receiver  blends the two 
within its circuitry or whether the audio channel comes from the broadcaster
  with the two channels superimposed I just don't know, but if you were able to 
give us audio setting options to allow the blending of the channels or could
  give us a blended third channel, we would be most grateful. At present 
unfortunately although it's great to hear the voice, it's of no real use if we 
  hear the soundtrack. Can you within the program blend the channels or give us 
a setting which we can access when we wish to take advantage of the audio
  A few of us also see a benefit in another possible innovation. A settings 
dialog allowing us to choose which soundcard to direct the sound to could be 
  For the digital quality to be routed to perhaps a hifi soundcard while the 
Windows sounds (and our speech synthesiser speech) could be output on the basic
  soundcard - this separation of sound would be beneficial to get maximum 
quality from the Freeview programmes, and eliminate the problem which we blind
  people face when we mute the sound, e.g. the removal of all sounds including 
our speech.
  A further query is as to whether on this Settings dialog box we could have 
the flexibility to choose video bitrate so that varying sizes and lengths of
  files/programmes can be recorded.
  Also would it be possible in the setup of channels to find all the channels 
or to recognise channels which may not be broadcasting at the time of scanning.
  I know this can be got around by scanning and saving the resultant  files at 
different times of the day but a comprehensive listing as with a standard
  Freeview box would be useful. Similarly will there be ability to access the 
top up channels e.g. UK Gold (and any others) in the future?
  One further problem I have and this only may be confined to me, is that when 
I try to access the mpg files from within Windows Explorer to pop them into
  Windows Media Player or any other program, I find that my computer reboots. 
It seems to dislike the MPG file in the folder. I can however access the 
  files by using another network computer or by going into your software 
player, pressing ctrl and 'o' to bring up the open folder, then bringing up the
  context menu and accessing the file that way. Is there a workaround for this 
or am I the only one with this problem?
  Thanks for reading this email. I realise that it's making quite a number of 
demands but hope you might be able to meet some of them at least for us. Please
  let me know if you are able to make any amendments to what is already an 
excellent and well thought out program.
  Gordon McFarlane
  position it over


    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: Sunil 
    To: access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
    Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 6:04 PM
    Subject: [access-uk] Freecom freeview USB stick

    I'm trying to track a review down of the Freecom USB stick that lets you 
watch freeview channels on a PC with audio description.  I think someone wrote 
about it and how it works with a screenreader but I can't find anything on the 
web.  If anyone's got an electronic version of the review I'd appreciate a copy 




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