As I’ve written numerous times here on the site, I am a huge user of voice recognition software. I’m blown away by Dragon Dictation on the iPhone, use Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my Windows 7 machine, and I have MacSpeech Dictate on both my iMac and my MacBook Pro.
When I upgraded to the current version of MacSpeech Dictate I discovered that it isn’t configured to allow you to use the built-in microphone for dictation. Turns out there is a reason for this for as good as the microphone is, it isn’t ideal for voice recording. Without a proper headset, there will be more errors than normal. That isn’t good for the company making the voice recognition software since, if people go to use the software and it doesn’t offer the proper accuracy, they will blame the software… even if the lack of a proper microphone is at fault. The company knew there would be a loss of accuracy without a headset and therefore made sure that the software would require one.
Fortunately, there is a workaround that I have been using that lets me use my MacBook Pro without a headset. I have found the accuracy to be “good enough”, but after last night I now realize the wisdom of MacSpeech’s ways. A proper microphone makes ALL the difference in the world. That’s where the Plantronics .Audio 467 DSP headset comes into play.
During CES, Plantronics was kind enough to offer Judie, Larry, Kevin and I one of their .Audio 476 DSP headsets. The headset is designed for use with Skype, dictation and gaming. It offers
Experience enhanced sound mobility with the foldable .Audio 476 DSP Stereo Headset, noise canceling microphone and wideband act of translation deliver clear voice calls. Acoustically tuned equalizers provide rich, resonant stereo sound for music, video and games. Soft foam ear pads, and intuitive foldable design and easy-to-use controls make the headset perfect for your on the go audio needs.
The headset is USB plug-and-play and works with both Windows and Macs. It offers digital signal processing, allows for Echo cancellation and provides 24-bit hi-fi stereo sound. The result is excellent sound quality. It has a boom microphone that offers noise cancellation but also flips out of the way when you’re listening to music. In-line controls make it easy to use and the fact that the whole unit folds up means you can pack it up and go.
To be honest, the headset isn’t all that impressive to look at. It doesn’t have a fancy design. It doesn’t have a stunning look that screams “Wow!!! look at me”. It doesn’t have “style”. It just looks like a USB headset that can fold down into a smaller package.
Nope, in the “looks” department the headset is ho-hum. In the “use” department, however, it is anything but.
This headset is absolutely fantastic. It is comfortable, easy to use and works beautifully with voice recognition. Last night when I got home from our evening’s activities I trained MacSpeech Dictate to work with it. Today I’ve been using it on and off and am incredibly impressed. Because it’s foldable, I was able to throw it in my bag and bring it with me wherever I needed to go without fear that it would break. And when I had a minute to “write” something, I simply grabbed it, unfolded it and plugged it in.
How does it work? Well, I wrote this while in the hallway of the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, waiting to enter into our evening activities with Larry. The hallway had a tremendous echo. People were coming back and forth in the hallway because there were a number of meetings taking place right now. Larry and two other writers were sitting right next to me. And with all this noise in the background… recognition accuracy with MacSpeech Dictate was close to 100%.
That’s how good the headset is. The noise around me seems to matter little, thanks to the noise cancellation of the unit. Add to that the fact that it is super comfortable, and after using it just for a day I will be carrying it with me on the go. It is that good! Thanks to Plantronics for providing the units to us, and for transforming the way I use dictation on my MacBook Pro.
The .Audio 476 DSP – Digital USB Foldable Stereo Headset is coming soon and will have an MSRP of $54.95. Check them out here: Plantronics Headsets and Accessories.