UK set top box maker TVonics has teamed-up with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to update its DTR-HD500 Freeview PVR with optimisations for blind and partially sighted users.
Going much further than the accessibility tweaks offered by most lounge-bound gadgets, the TVonics DTR-HD500 uses text-to-speech software IVONA to effectively read out channel names, the built-in EPG, and recorded programmes. Naturally, it also supports audio description within programmes, when available.
A great PVR just got better...
The software is designed to take a step back as you learn to use the TVonics DTR-HD500's interface, too. IVONA offers a number of guidance levels, from "beginner" to "expert", which gradually cut back on the amount of synthesised speech used when navigating the interface. The former will give you the full works, while we imagine those designed for TVonics veterans will leave out the more basic menu signposting. We'll be checking out the service first-hand soon.
RNIB is fully supporting the new version of the TVonics box, selling it on its website. RNIB's Fazilet Hadi said, "This is the first box which will allow blind people to independently record programmes and pause live TV. This box will enable people with sight loss to get a great digital TV experience without paying a premium." In a highly-competitive consumer electronics market that generally favours box-shifting over altruism, it's good to see TVonics cater for an under-served group not generally thought-of as having wallets bulging with cash, waiting to be spent on shiny black boxes.
The TVonics DTR-HD500 sells for £179.95 and is available now. It offers a 500GB hard drive, dual Freeview HD tuners and a rather fetching lounge-friendly design. Existing owners will be able to download this new functionality as a software update. It's also available for the TVonics DTR-Z500HD.
For more on the PVR, read our full TVonics DTR-HD500 review.