Blind Bargains

A User's Perspective on the Insignia Narrator Talking HD Radio

Many of you have asked us questions about the Insignia Narrator Talking HD radio,
recently available at Best Buy. While this item is currently out of stock,
we thought we'd bring you a review from a user since you may come across one of these radios
and wonder about its accessibility. Thanks to Bill from The New Vision Store
for giving us permission to use the following.

I studied my Narrator this weekend and wanted to give a brief report, hope this will help folks considering the unit. I'll go through headings and give comments, with starting and finishing comments to bracket the headings. Unit was safely shipped, arriving one week after the email stated arrival. The "Did you enjoy your experience" email arrived before the "Item has Shipped" email. The unit arrived as the "Item has shipped" email stated. The parts were all present. The unit came up talking. As I've been frustrated lately, as items are getting more digital in nature, (or is that "Multi-leveled?") I decided to have a sighted person read to me the printed instructions. They had to stop as all references to the menu key brought limitations. We put in the 4 AA batterries, but could get no farther. Looks: Nicely defined buttons, only the reset is hiding in full sight, (as is nearly always the case). Rubber feet are very sticky and the unit wanted to stick to a tile table, and I was afraid the rubber feet would come unglued. I put half of a 4x6 index card under each pair of feet. These feet al-natural might mark a fine table finish. But, it will not slide across the table and fall to the floor. However, I wanted the card to break the friction for movement and deter any damage to this new unit's feet. Sound: The unit is a bit boomy sounding. It sounds like they are trying to take the place of a portable stereo with this. It's not big enough to do that, therefore it over reaches, with an unrefined bottom sound. To be more accurate, it is bass sensative. For things with weak bass it does well and fills out the bass hiding the truth of the original source. But for things that are of balanced tone, or things that have been compensated (like traffic reports) it is boomy and sometimes muddy. It sounds better a few feet away than next to one, say while sitting at the kitchen table in the morning, listening to news. The unit is ported, from the back of the woofers directly outward. Plugging these ports with something foamy would work to reduce and smooth this out, but the port is of the same rather smooth plastic of the back of the unit, and is trumpet shaped toward the outside. (most materials would not stay inside and thus would not work.) The only material I can suggest is called "egg crate". Working functions: With the antenna set up for my area, the FM is mostly clear. The HD is mostly without break ups. The AM is not a strong feature of this radio. Luckily the two AM stations I would want are available as HD side channels of strong FM stations, thus easily available to me. The power, Source, Alarm, Snooze, Volume, Seek, Display, tune, and Preset buttons all talk. The Menu, Select, and Bookmark buttons *do *not *Talk! Not at any point, or in any way! You can not perform the functions that require these buttons without vision. In fact, in the talking mode, these buttons do not only "not talk" they "do not function at all". However the "time" and "alarm" features are accessible without the menu and that is very helpful. The "snooze button" can be pressed at any time to get this radio to tell the time.thus, turning the unit off, and pressing "display" is not necessary. The presence of the alarms activating either AM, FM, or beeps, makes this a "2 alarm talking clock radio". Information: This unit comes with a print manual and a standard CD. The CD is read quickly, (too quickly for taking notes comfortably) I'd say too quickly to follow with the radio in hand. But that doesn't matter one lick. The CD is *not oriented as an instruction for the users who wish it as a talking device. The CD is a quick, maybe abreviated, read of the print manual. See above, that means one cannot operate the radio when the CD is discussing the "menu", "select", or "bookmark" buttons as they do not talk. It is late in the CD that the material regarding the use of talking features comes up. I also want to mention, that though the word on this unit is that it has 10 AM preset capacity, and 20 FM preset capacity; the print and CD manuals refer to "Unlimited presets" more than once. I'm not going to play with it to find out which is correct. Finally: I was frustrated, defeated, and angered that I could not use my HD radio called Insignia Narrator, to its fullest, advertised function. (No, I do not expect to view album artwork if provided, as displayed). The single thing that would have made this better.? To have the Bold print statement "This unit is not fully talking, as the Menu, select, and Bookmark buttons do not talk and their functions do not talk." The second statement, "The menu is not available in talking mode." Would have helped. Even "please disregard references to the menu, select, and bookmark buttons if you are always going to require this in the talking mode and do not have sighted assistance." Is that being extreme? No, for having that in the beginning of the booklet would have put that in the beginning of the CD. I had to *guess that the buttons might work if I took it out of talking mode. They did, but didn't talk. There are maybe 6 choices there, and some of them have choices within choices. One of them has 2 choices that one doesn't even enter, but some kind of odd choice method is used. Having the Insignia folks say that "all", "most" or even "over half" of the functions are accessible is untruthful. In fact I quote the CD, "pressing the menu button gets a beep to indicate that this is an invalid key press." (in talking mode). (they say the same about the "select" and "bookmark" buttons) (Okay, so is it an invalid expectation, invalid button, or an invalid press? "Expectation and press" are the correct answers to that question.) This statement regarding "invalid button press" , and most of the helpful information regarding the limited talking functions are not read until the end of the CD. The detail of these buttons is complete, telling both "press" and "feedback" for the talking buttons. But, as many to most items bought today (in fact this unit, if one is sighted, and the radio is out of talking mode) allow for one to start use with the beginning of their read of the manual; the frustration factor, (even as a blind person trying to treat this as a standard unit interaction) will be a challenge. I do find it better than advertised that the "snooze" button makes this a talking clock radio. As well as acting as a "time button". I'll keep it. But think that the advertising on this item is much much more bluster than straight truth. Does anyone hear the whispering "Corporate America Strikes Again"? By the Way: I responded to the "we hope you enjoyed your experience" email. I wrote, "my menu button doesn't talk, it beeps and nothing happens, the screen doesn't change as the print manual says it will, and I cannot activate the functions related with the menu button. Please help." I sent that email late on the 7th sent it again on the 9th, before I listened to the end of the CD this last Saturday the 12th. I have not received a return email to relieve my stress., to this date. No, "we are sorry to inform you", "Please read to the end of your included CD", or "may I talk you through the requested function?" I as a store manager, have stopped selling a particular clock that was so very difficult to operate that I could not figure it out without sighted assistance, due to its combination "non-talking" button pressing requirements. Am I the smartest, most "rehabilitated" or most patient person? No. but that means, I am more like most people. I recommend folks buy this item for what it can do, I like what it can do.It is great the common market has this item. I think this is the best talking clock radio I've ever heard. The Dream Machine by Sony sounded a little better (and had a CD player, at twice the price) , but had no batterry compartment to keep settings in case of a power failure. The presence of a compartment for 4 AA's is welcomed in the Narrator. (though they refer to these as "Keeping clock settings", I hope it keeps station presets too. One additional oddity: When listening to several, not all, FM broadcasts in which there is a telephone call, (call in talk show, telephone contest etc) there is an annoying "ducky" sound. It is much like sideband. It is a distortion that nearly overpowers the actual voice transmitted. It makes the caller sound as if they have a deformity of the roof of the mouth. Obviously not all callers have this, and if listening to the actual voice it is equally obvious. But it is maybe due to the digital decoding that this otherwise easily overlooked distortion is greatly increased. the voice doesn't quiet down as much as the radio does, so if in a room with anyone else, it might not be good in the middle of the night. : ) The volume buttons are also slow responding, so fast multiple taps do not make as much difference as one would assume. The tune and preset buttons are different in this. A 4 tap fast multiple does seem to have corresponding effect. Lastly, the high frequency response is crisp and clear without being "sizzly" "sharp" or "hishy". I think it is good enough there.

Thanks, Bill. Do you have comments on this radio? Leave them in the comments.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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