Hands-Free Computer Control – ViaVoice Millennium Professional from IBM – Evaluation
ViaVoice Millennium Professional
Requirements Win 95/98, 48MB of RAM, 310MB of hard disk space,
CD-ROM drive, Internet Explorer 4.0 SR2, 233MHz
Publisher IBM, 800-825-5263, www.software.ibm.com/speech
PROS Excellent sppech recognition that adapts as you use it
CONS Difficult to learn; requires a powerful PC
EVER WANT TO SIT BACK and simply tell your PC what to do? IBM’s ViaVoice Millennium is an impressive speech-recognition agent that can give you that power.
While available versions of ViaVoice Millennium range from a $60 Standard package to an $80 Web edition with commands for popular browsers, we tried the $179 Professional package, which adds voice control for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook as well as speech-to-text, Web-browsing, and Windows-command capabilities.
The new ViaVoice offers significant improvements. For instance, there’s a larger vocabulary than ever before (IBM claims up to 2 million words, disk space permitting), including updated vocabularies for business, online “chatter’s lingo,” and technology. You can also buy optional legal and medical dictionaries.
Most improved, however, was overall voice-recognition accuracy–we rarely had to correct dictation or commands. New features include ViaVoice Outloud, which can react your documents back to you and made our proofreading a breeze.
You pay for this functionality with the power you need to run it. On our 466MHz Pentium II-based PC with 64MB of RAM, for example, it took twice as long to open Word with ViaVoice than without it.
The program also has a relatively steep learning curve. Dictation was easy, but the rare corrections were time-consuming. In addition, navigation through text was awkward. Editing sped up when we replaced typing with dictation, but still used the mouse to navigate.
HOME OFFICE COMPUTING’S product scores are weighted averages of 1- to 10-point ratings for: Value (30 percent of total), Performance (30 percent of total), Ease of Use (20 percent of total), and Suitability for Home Office Use (20 percent of total).
V = Value
P = Performance
E = Ease of use
S = Suitability for Home Office Use
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