Reading with AMD: Review of Victor Reader Stratus 4M
Last updated: March 2023
In previous articles, I’ve mentioned my friend who is not just legally blind, but almost completely blind. She has provided many tips on how to make living alone possible when the world has gone dark.
A new way to read
Often when I call she’s been enjoying a relaxing time outside in the sun, listening to an audiobook on her Victor Reader. It is one of the electronic devices she says has made a big difference in her enjoyment of life, and one of the few things she has been suggesting I share as she feels everyone with low vision should know about it.
One of her first comments was that it is not difficult to learn how to use because of the simple 4-arrow keypad. With no unnecessary buttons to fumble over, you can’t go wrong. If you accidentally insert a CD upside down, it will eject it without damage.
With its built-in handle, it’s easy to listen anywhere or to take with you to share something with friends. The rechargeable battery lasts 6 to 8 hours and only requires about 4 hours to charge.
One feature I particularly liked when she showed it to me was that when there is no book inserted, just pressing a key will tell what that key does. Invaluable when starting out.
It can read CDs, USB flash drives, as well as smart cards. She has signed up with CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) to receive books on CDs every month. They send books of their choice based on her chosen genres.
She chose 2 per month, but it could be more or less. When finished, she just inserts the CD back in the envelope it came in and pops it in the mailbox. Magazines and newspapers are available as well.
The Stratus 4M will automatically resume reading where you left off no matter how many books you have on the go. The speed can be slowed when listening to a difficult-to-understand narrator. One with an accent, for example.
She tells me it doesn’t take long to become accustomed to any of the voices. Many are read by volunteers as well as professionals.
You can use a time jump or jump ahead by chapters or pages. There is a fast forward and rewind capability, useful when you’re not sure you heard something correctly. For those who don’t live alone, there’s a headphone jack, so your partner doesn’t need to listen to your book along with you.
The Stratus 4M also has a sleep timer to help out on those lazy summer days as well as at bedtime. It can be set in 15-minute increments. Bookmarks are easily saved and recovered for each book.
One of the few features my friend does not often use is its built-in text-to-speech capability to listen to computer text documents. She is very tech-savvy and uses her computer and iPhone more than many of us with only limited vision. But she says even those who are uncomfortable with computers wouldn’t have a problem with it.
People say I can’t read anymore, my friend says I can’t see the book anymore, but I can still read.
Do you find that fear interferes with your ability to regularly go to eye specialist appointments?