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SensePlayer – a revolutionary product or same old blindness product?

A product overview by Paul Porter

The SensePlayer is the latest audio player from HIMS who have been producing specialist devices for more than 20 years.

The SensePlayer is available in two versions. Both have audio and text reading functions and the SensePlayer OCR also includes a camera. Both devices look and feel the same with the addition of the camera on the back of the OCR version.

The player is controlled with tactile buttons and has a replaceable battery.

The SensePlayer includes the following functions:

1)         File Manager: Explore, manage and play files and folders on the SensePlayer.

2)         Media Player: Play audio files such as MP3 and WAV, as well as the audio of video formats such as MP4.

3)         DAISY Player: Use this program to play DAISY text and audio books.

4)         Document reader: Use this program to play various document file types, including, text files as well as EPUB, PDF, HTML, and Microsoft Word files.

5)         FM Radio: Use this program to listen to FM Radio stations.

6)         Web Radio: Use this program to listen to web radio stations from around the world.

7)         Podcasts: Use this program to search for, subscribe to, download and play podcasts.

8)         Library Services: Opens a menu containing available search and download applications for electronic libraries for the blind supported in the country in which you live.

9)         Utilities: Opens the Utilities menu, which contains recordings playback, Calculator and Memo programs, the Alarm and Sleep Timer, and items related to upgrading and disk management on the SensePlayer.

10)      Settings: Opens a menu containing options for installing and choosing your Guide Voice, recording, Wireless and Bluetooth, and other general and global settings.

The SensePlayer has Bluetooth for connecting to headsets and wi-fi for connecting to Internet Radio and other sources. It also has a 3.5mm headphone socket not found on many new smartphones. The sensePlayer is charged through a USB-C port. This port can also be used to connect external devices such as storage drives, microphones etc.

Access to the RNIB Reading Services library will be provided in a software update when available.

Looking at the functionality of the SensePlayer you might be forgiven for thinking that all these functions can be carried out on a smartphone or tablet with suitable apps. Whilst this is indeed true, I like the user experience and can very quickly, for example, move between different internet radio streams or audio content on the device.

One function that I think makes the SensePlayer a revolutionary product is the Smart Connect feature. This feature uses Bluetooth to connect to an iPhone or iPAD, Android devices or a BrailleSense product also manufactured by HIMS. The Smart Connect function enables you to control your device from the SensePlayer by using the buttons on the SensePlayer. Most of the functions of your device can be controlled from the SensePlayer.

The SensePlayer promises to include an exciting feature in a future upgrade which will add a ScreenReader to the device. Using the ScreenReader you will be able to access apps hopefully including Audible, BBC Sounds, Netflix and more. This too will revolutionise the functionality of the SensePlayer.

I have been using one for a couple of months and like it. There are some bugs in audio playback but I am sure these will be addressed in upgrades.

The SensePlayer is available from Sight And Sound The price is £475 for the standard player and £645 for the OCR version. The SensePlayer will also be available from RNIB from the middle of June 2023.