Hands-on review: The Blaze EZ

illustration of the blaze ez

The Blaze EZ £485 Score: 8/10 

Review by Ian Cooper

Ever been sitting in a restaurant and thought that it might be nice to read the menu, or, in a book shop and thought it might be nice to read the synopsis on the back cover? Well now you can, and all without the use of a mobile phone.

I came across The Blaze EZ when it was demonstrated to me, and I have to say that I fell in love with it immediately -it’s small, light and very unobtrusive.

Let’s start with a quick look at the buttons, which are kept to a minimum and are well labelled.

On the front of the device, at the top there is a button slightly indented that if pressed will turn on and off the unit. It will also tell you the time and date, even if the unit is turned off. Slightly below this on the left is a round button that is the Dictaphone record button. Pressing this will bring up a list of all your recordings.

We come to the next line and there are 3 buttons there, each of these has a Braille character on it;

The first is the Media Button. This will play any music that you might have on the device. It is also where any MP3 books are found. Then comes the Radio button; this will, as long as the earphones are plugged in, give you access to local FM radio. You can enter stations that you listen to and then move through the list to find them. The last button is the book button; this is where you will find any Daisy books. All the buttons on this line are labelled with Braille letters.

Below there are 4 directional arrows and a select button. These are used to move around the menus. The menus are filled with things like Blue tooth settings, time and date settings clock and battery life, As if that is not enough there is a colour identifier, a podcast reader, internet radio, and book services. At this time the Blaze does not work with RNIB Overdrive, but heard that it might be in an update.

Below there are 3 buttons, to the left is a square button that is the cancel or clear button, then the explore button and then the best button of them all, the OCR button.

The clear/cancel button does just what it says on the can, clears and cancels actions. The Explore button, well this is a great tool that can be used in most of the menus of the device. It will show you all the Daisy books, all your tracks and the Digital stations; oh did I forget to say that this has an internet radio? Silly me. You can even press this button for more than 2 seconds and it will give you the “Path Line” to certain docs. Now the button that makes this device so good, The OCR button. For those of you out there OCR stands for “Optical Character Recognition” and simply means reads words on the page.

This device will read text docs, Word  and even PDF’s. The added ability of being able to take this small 5inch (12cm), by 2 inch (5cm), by 1 inch (2.5cm) device in your pocket and be able to read bills, menus and notices is a great field leveller.

Along the left hand side there is only one area to look at; this is the SD card slot. The Blaze EZ can take up to a 32GB SD card, plenty for books and music, but it should also be known that there is a 16GB of internal hard drive on this unit. You have to alter the record settings   to listen to the internal hard drive, but this is only a few button presses away. On the right of the Blaze, at the top is a rotary volume wheel, this also is used to set other items that I will talk about in the next line.

Below the wheel is a button that allows you to alter the Daisy volume, the pre-amp and the pitch. Below this is the locking key, a simple pull down locks the keys so that they can’t be pressed whilst in a pocket or a bag.

The Blaze EZ costs £485, which may sound a lot but given the multi-functionality of the device: music player, book reader, internet radio, podcast reader, text document reader, colour identifier, FM radio and OCR camera, it is reasonably priced.

OVERALL SCORE: 8/10

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