The Voice of Authority – Software Review – Evaluation
L&H Voice Xpress 5 Professional HOC RATING: 8
Requirements: Win 95/98/NT 4.0/2000, 64MB RAM, 250MB hard disk space, 16-bit/22KHz sound card List Price: $150 Manufacturer Lernout 8, Hauspie, 800-380-1234, www.lhs.com
We, um, er, don’t know what to, ah, say … but L&H Voice Xpress 5 is the first speech recognition program that’ll let us say it. Besides being smart enough to skip hemming and hawing sounds during dictation, this upgrade combines impressive accuracy with enough voice-controlled convenience to blow away former favorite Dragon NaturallySpeaking–even if L&H hadn’t made the contest moot by buying Dragon Systems.
If you have a high-powered PC (even our 750MHz, 128MB Athlon hesitated occasionally), Voice Xpress 5 lets you start dictating with pleasing accuracy in 20 minutes, from opening the box to plugging in the included Plantronics headset to reading one or two practice articles. Rather than slogging through tutorials right away, you can visit an animated “cafe” for periodic, bite-size lessons and tips.
Once you master the rhythm of flowing speech and slight pauses, the program is remarkably sharp at distinguishing dictation from commands (you get conversational commands for most office favorites plus menu control for any Windows application). It swiftly increases accuracy both from noting corrections and scanning existing documents. A new context-sensitive list of sayable sample commands is a big help, while voice-controlled desk accessories and Internet Explorer browsing are fun extras. An improved, less robotic-sounding (though still not human-sounding) voice reads back text for editing.
After an hour or two, you’ll be comfortable enough to start dictating actual letters or e-mails. After a day or two, you’ll find yourself spending an hour or more without touching your keyboard, especially once you master the command recorder that lets you automate even fancy formatting or mouse movements.
It’s not a perfect, science-fiction secretary, but Voice Xpress 5 Professional is by a big margin the best speech recognizer we’ve tried. If you’re on a budget and want to talk to Word instead of the whole Microsoft Office suite, Voice Xpress Advanced is a steal at $80.
[up arrow] Takes dictation to new heights
[down arrow] Devours PC power; still not psychic
COPYRIGHT 2000 CURTCO Freedom Communications
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group