I was wondering if anyone out there had any experience of using the new IBM via voice software.

Question: I was wondering if anyone out there had any experience of using the new IBM via voice software. There is a review of it in one of the computer magazines this month which looked very promising. It should only cost about £ 100, certainly cheaper than Dragon dictate. I was especially interested in whether or not it could be used totally hands free successfully, or at least with a minimum of keyboard and mouse use.

Answer 1: Those of us who work with Dragon Dictate will be rather annoyed on reading the review you saw. I guess you are talking about the one in this month’s personal computer world. Via voice does not work completely hands free. If you want to control your computer by voice, at the moment you need to decide whether you want to go completely hands free and use something like Dragon Dictate (as I do) which will let you control all your windows programs, and dictate into word processors, E-mail etc., but which uses discrete speech or to use continuous speech, but to lose the command of the windows interface.

Dragon are currently marketing both Dragon Dictate which gives you the control and Naturally Speaking which allows continuous speech together as one package. However if you just want to experiment, I suggest you try Dragon Dictate alone which is now selling at 85 pounds… 20 Perhaps I am giving you the hard sell here, but I lost the ability to use my computer due to RSI last year. I was faced with the possibility of giving up work… I am a professional scientist and I need a computer for everything I do.

Then I found Dragon Dictate… now I work even faster than I used to with my hands and I don’t have to give up work! There is a discussion group… voice-users@voicerecognition.com which discusses all aspects of using computers by voice. Occasionally we break out into arguments about who does the best software, most of us are Dragon fans but there are a fair number of IBM and Kurzweil users as well.

Answer 2: Yes, but I would not choose this unless you wanted a method of working which is essentially “voice assisted keyboarding”. The accuracy of Via Voice is impressive, but you need to use the mouse or keyboard to mark misrecognitions and then either click on the word or press a function key to make a correction.  If you are really after a hands free text dictation tool I would definitely advise you to consider Naturally Speaking which allows you to correct by voice (in a very intuitive manner) if you want to do some keyboarding with it you can, but the important point is you have a choice!  The discreet speech products (Dragon Dictate classic, Kurzweil) are still a good choice if you want to do things other than just write text.

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