LOS ANGELES -- Speech-to-text programs have been around for a while, but there have not beenmany offerings for Mac users. MacSpeech Dictate is specifically made for Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report Mac and contains a hardware/software package. The software is based on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition engine (a staple for PC speech-to-text users). The recognition is stellar, and its voice commands, that allow you to open programs and reply to emails, are enormous time-savers.
Next up, there are a few of these coming to the market: Watch phones. Gadget Grrl says this watch phone, while somewhat bulky, has built-in Bluetooth and a touchscreen. With some other models, you have to use a small stylus in order to get it to work, so keeping track of the stylus becomes a problem.
Now more about the MacSpeech.
MacSpeech Dictate is specifically made for Mac and contains a hardware/software package. The software is based on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition engine (a staple for PC speech to text users).
The hardware includes a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone. The headset is manufactured by Plantronics.
A couple of notes on the headphones:First, they fold up and would not take up much room in a laptop bag, if you were using them on the road. Second, the microphone does not sit on or too close to your face, making it easy to dictate into.
On the software, you start out using a Data Disk that takes you step-by-step through a set-up. What this set-up is doing is creating a speech dictionary and recognition in order tobetter recognize your commands. If you have never tried speech-to-text, it takes a littletime to get used to some of the commands, like "new paragraph," "caps on," or "asterisk," but once I was on a roll with this it was not a problem.
A few tips on using the program: I found it was best when I was not looking at the screen.Depending on what you are dictating, it seemed to flow better when I wasn't worried about what was coming up next on the screen.
Overall, the recognition was stellar, especially with the included microphone. I wouldn't ditch the microphone in order to use the one on your MacBook, though, because I don't think you'll get the best results.
What I really like about this program is the ability to open up documents just by saying, "Open Microsoft Excel." Also, answering all my email by voice, instead of typing it, was an enormous time-saver.
There are a few of these coming to the market: Watch phones. This SpecialOPS one, while somewhat bulky, has built-in Bluetooth and a touchscreen. With some other models, you have to use a small stylus in order to get it to work, so keeping track of the stylus becomes a problem.
The keypad is built into the wristband and there is also an MP3player and MP4 player (for movies).
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Diana Forbes is a Los Angeles-based writer and media personality. Her "Gadget Grrl" reviews appear in various national print and online publications, and she demonstrates consumer products on national and local television shows. Click
to visit her Gadgetgrrl Web site.