This article at PC Magazine is a review of the new Iomega Rev35 drive, which stores 35GB of uncompressed data on a removable disk. The drive attaches via USB 2.0 to any PC with a USB port (it is backward compatible with USB 1.1, though the speed would probably preclude use on a non-USB2 machine). There are plans for a Firewire version that will support Mac OSX, but that is not yet shipping. The drive has some pretty impressive statistics, and according to the Iomega site, it is qualified to work with many of the major backup software platforms, such as Veritas Backup Exec 9.1, Dantz Retrospect, and CA Brightstore. The only real down side I see at this point is the cost of the media, coming in at around $50 per cartrdige. Anyone who needs more capacity and better reliability than a DDS 4 tape solution, though, would do well to consider this.
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I have had an opportunity to use Microsoft’s Voice Command software for Windows Mobile 2003 for a couple of weeks now. I do not think it is worth the $40 price tag for those who don’t use a phone edition device.
The built-in microphone on my iPaq 3970 does not recognize well enough in my car to provide accurate recognition. I believe this limitation would have a better result with a headset and microphone that can be used on the phone edition devices. It is still better than having to look up the contact with the stylus while driving, but it requires multiple attempts almost every time.
I am interested if anyone else has had a different experience.
Well, as promised, I downloaded the new voice command software from Handango today. The software costs $39.95 for all users, and it requires Windows Mobile 2003 on the device. That being said, the product is only usable to those with recent handhelds that came pre-installed with Windows Mobile 2003 or those, like me, who purchased the upgrade for their device.
I followed the very minimal instructions provided with the installation. My Pocket PC device is an iPaq 3955 with standard memory and the Windows 2003 upgrade installed. The installation recommended disabling the automatic microphone gain and setting it manually at 16 (20 is the default). After that minor adjustment, I updated one of my hardware buttons to be the “Voice Command” button. The application install had hijacked the calendar button (Button 1) on my device, but I relocated it to a more sensible location. The install appears to have taken up about 5.5MB of space on my device (Microsoft indicates it should take about 7MB of space for 500 contacts and 100 songs). I have 363 contacts and no songs currently stored on my device.
I have to say, overall I am very impressed with the product working as advertised. It does exactly what it says it will do. Immediately following installation, I was able to display contacts and query my calendar simply by pressing the voice command button and speaking clearly with the device about 8-10″ from my face. It worked with the device in the cradle on my desk, but not nearly as accurately. Everything is accomplished with no training at all.
The app performs relatively well. With my situation (363 contacts), I can find a contact in less than 2 seconds with one hand. The computer voice is a little hard to understand when reading calendar information – I am not sure how useful this feature will really be until they can improve the voice synthesis portion of the application.
I installed some music to my device to test out the media player functionality of the application. It was much less impressive in terms of response time than the contact lookup function. I had to repeat myself numerous times to get the right artist or genre to play properly. I do like the ability to play by album, though. The function to create a playlist on the fly like that is excellent.
After playing with the application for much of the afternoon, I believe it will be most suited for users with a Pocket PC Phone device. While it is somewhat convenient to be able to get contact information by speaking, without a headset/microphone combination, one has to hold the device to get the best results, thereby defeating the whole concept of hands free that the software was designed to enable. I will use it, though, to quickly navigate to contacts, rather than searching through my list with the stylus, especially when I am just looking for a quick number or address. Since I couldn’t test the dialing functions, I don’t know how accurate or useful they actually are, but I would surmise from my tests that MS spent the most time on the contact and dialing functions, and it would therefore be a very useful feature for phone users.
Please post your comments with your own experiences with the application. Here is a list of useful sites pertaining to Voice Command:
I sat down and tried to write a good review of iTunes for Windows, but I kept getting side tracked. There really are a lot of features in this program, and probably more than most people want to read. So, I decided to break it up and do little reviews on various features and discuss some overall topics.