This is the latest version of the excellent voice recognition software from Nuance. Dragon were at one time a competitor and some years ago they became a Nuance purchase, now it is not only the best speech software but the easiest to use.
Installation is straightforward, it took 12 minutes and installed 3.5GB of files including extra Microsoft files not already on the PC, you will need to speak into the provided headset to test your audio, and somewhat surprisingly to me it said my audio test failed. I repeated it and it failed again but I saw it also said I could continue. While ‘training’ is no longer essential you do really need to speak some sentences to allow it to get used to your voice.
Prize won for the first to mention 2012 not in terms of the Olympic Games, however when people launce 2012 versions half way through 2011. Second a different approach from Viper offering whole (PC) life cover for a single fee.
Not quite sure what people think they gain by giving a year date like 2012 half way through 2011. Mind you some magazines do it with the month, as I write this at the start of August October issues are already in the shops. While most of us still think of these packages as Anti Virus most now do far more including Firewall, Identity Theft and even Parental control. Installation from the CD took only two minutes on a reasonably fast PC.
Wireless technology has allowed users the freedom to work untethered with their keyboard and mouse. The same technology can also give greater freedom when listening to music.
When checking out a new headset I usually take it for a walk and/or visit to a location where there would be plenty of noise before concluding with sessions in my favourite armchair listening to different types of music. These tests allow me to check out features such as audio quality, external noise elimination and how comfortable the headset is over a period of time while tethered to an appropriate source of audio content.
Tefal is well known for its kitchen ware but, if you buy it, are you just paying for a brand name? A test on stew pots from its Preference and Sensorielle non-stick ranges showed that they make it easier for the experienced cook and would probably enable the beginner to avoid disasters.
The pots were 24cm. This is a large size as the pots have a useable capacity of roughly 4 litres -- large enough to make a batch of soup for a fairly large family and yet could also be used for cooking far smaller quantities. Although the internal non-stick surfaces look the same, externally they are quite different. The Preference has the traditional vertical sides with a matt finish, a heavy machined base and weighed 1.3kg. The Sensorielle was a stylish design which is pleasing to the eye.
No obvious link but two very useful items, the latter can go on your keyring without damage risk. The first could possibly have saved my life at the start of the year, well certainly my sight according to an A&E doctor.
When I first saw this I assumed that the ‘heart rate’ function was a toy – based on the look of the watch – but I found it accurate and it may even have pointed out a heart problem I had that normal medical checks had not. The last fifteen months have been a bit of a health rollercoaster for me; a nasty virus last year took me months to get over and caused the loss of 20KG of weight.
While not as well known as some of its other products, Serif does have a website design package for those looking to create an online presence.
Continuing its policy of adding the suffix of “Plus” to all its products, Serif’s latest website designer package is entitled WebPlus X5. This product promises to allow the user to create professional-quality websites without needing any skills in the lingua franca of HTM. As with other products in the Serif family, WebPlus X5 comes without any printed documentation. You do get a User Guide but this is in PDF format which is located on the product CD.
This next title places you in the role of an inquisitive young woman as she tries to solve mysteries in foreign lands as part of a two-game pack.
As part of the Hidden Mysteries Collectives series, Lost Realms 1 & 2 is, as you might expect, a two-game pack. This dual offering consists of Legacy of the Sun Princess and The Curse of Babylon with both titles belonging to the Hidden Object Adventure genre. You will need to install each game individually from the same front end. Both games feature Alexia as your on-screen presence as you tackle hidden object scenes plus solve puzzles and riddles.
Two rather different sets of PC speakers both using USB one self powered and the other also needing mains connection. One pair looks kind of ‘normal’ while the other is definitely more on the side of being a designer product.
You get a pair of speakers that will be equally at home with a Desktop or a Notebook PC. They are predominately cream with silver grey base front and top. They are 3cm taller at the back than the front and 1cm deeper at the base than the top. Overall they are rectangles with the metallic grill stretching over the entire front. So the base is 8x7cm, the top is 7x7cm with the units being 15cm tall at the front and 17cm tall at the backs of the units.
A new headset from Sennheiser, aimed at the youth market, adds a splash of colour with Adidas Blue.
One of the first names that usually spring to mind when considering headsets is that of Sennheiser. This is a company that has a long-established and well-deserved reputation in this particular field. I am regularly accompanied on my daily walks by the Sennheiser PX 200 model, which can be folded up when not in use, for providing my listening pleasure by delivering content from my Clip+ MP3 player.
A lot of software products are now in their mature stage especially when the number gets to double figures. In the case of OmniPage it probably means it’s been around for around twenty years, so surely it should do things right?
Often software was judged by the weight and size of the box here its smaller than a book and the contents consist of a single A4 sheet of paper folded into four ‘notes before installing’ in six languages and a CD-ROM with the program and manuals. The box with contents weigh just over 50 grams that’s less than a small letter.
Not so much a sat nav – although it can do that – but a tool to guide you around the countryside for what I am told is a new craze Geo Tagging. People hide clues and you then go on a search for the next and so on using this tool.
Sometimes you will need to prove you have been somewhere so the built in camera can do that with time and place information. It is 12.5x6.5x3cm and weights 225grams. It is powered by two standard ‘AA’ batteries. The base of the face has a gap that either a clip or thin cord can be passed through to enable you to secure the device to say a rucksack.
Usually data-on-the-move makes use of the various USB sticks currently available. Now Verbatim is offering this kind of portability with an SSD device.
In the past I have looked at a number of offerings in Verbatim’s Store’n’Go product range. These items have been USB sticks, generally blue in colour, of varying capacities. The latest addition to the Store’n’Go range, however is totally different in certain aspects to the earlier products.
Another tiny (in size) PowerShot - the Canon PowerShot A3200is from Canon. Since going to the solid battery offering for PowerShots they have managed to fit everything into a body that means the whole unit slips easily into a pocket.
The Canon PowerShot A3200is measures 9x5.5x2.5cm with the unit off. With the lens fully extended the last figure the thickness extends by another 2.5cm. The total weight of the unit is 146grams. My unit was orange but they do more sober colours as well. The unit has 5x optical zoom and can capture images up to 14.1MP. The 35mm equivalent lens setting is 1.28 – 5.9. The bar flash is mounted to the right and above the lens with it being at least 2.5cm away from it.
They saw the camera never lies but some assistance a camera’s images can be edited to change the scene.
Utilities, and certain other types of applications, tend to fall into one or two main categories. They can either attempt to spread their functionality as wide as possible, in a kind of jack-of-all-trades approach (maybe master-of-none) which can give the illusion you are getting your money’s worth or take the one-trick pony route by concentrating on delivering one particular function. Fluid Mask from Vertus definitely falls into the latter category.
Vampires, and their blood-drinking propensities, continue to be a popular theme with games developers. The latest such offering to come my way is entitled Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock.
Developed by Alawar Games and Go Games, Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock is an excursion into the world of vampires and the undead. This game is yet another example of the popular hidden object adventure genre. The game opens with a series of comic book style scenes showing your character being involved in a motor-cycle crash which results in you suffering a bout of amnesia leaving you in a state of confusion.
This is the middle one of three security cameras recently released by Swann. The catchily named Pro-670 with the others 660 and 680. The 660 being wide angle and the 680 having optical zoom. So it fits between the others.
The overall dimensions of the camera are 18x8x7.5cm. It is supplied with 18 metres of twin cable, one for video the other for power, an adapter to allow fitting direct to the back of a TV, screws and raw plugs for three holes in the back of the fitting, some warning notices and a four side connection guide complete the items.
Do you defrag? If not then maybe your hard disk will not be performing at its full capability. This next product could help.
Whenever I set up a new computer, either desktop or laptop, one of the first applications that I install, once Windows is bedded in, is that of the current version of Diskeeper. This particular piece of software, which has been around for a number of years with a cut-down version formed part of earlier versions of Windows, has been developed to help speed up the performance of your system by organising the files on your hard disk.
Sometimes you discover a little gem; I did earlier this year at a twice yearly press event. They are a PC manufacturer who return your calls and even deliver exactly what you ask for, something certainly worth considering.
Unlike most manufacturers today you can have exactly what you want, find a unit that is close to what you require and then modify it to give you exactly what you want, the price updates with every change that you make. The OP3 Mars seemed a reasonable starting point, a small tower with a reasonable sized power supply a 3.06GHz processor (over clocked to 3.5GHz) an Asus Motherboard that has both USB2 and USB3 ports as well as eSATA, the memory was only 2GB so I doubled that.
I know we are at the height of summer but the round of Christmas offerings are already happening, the two jig saws I am talking about here were actually shown at the Toy Fair to the trade last January for sale for this Christmas.
Still with memories of the 5000 piece offering that defeated me early this year I reverted to the other end of the scale with a 100 piece ‘XXL’ puzzle. This is aimed at 6+ with the average piece size being around 6x3.7cm. The overall puzzle size is 49x36cm and features Dr Who and Amy Pond along with something that looks rather like one of my school teachers as well as a Dalek and what I think is a stone monster in a very blue scenario.
Dragon speech recognition software has been around for many years and is increasingly able to take advantage of faster processors and larger amounts of memory. The latest version Naturally Speaking 11.5 appears to have the same recognition engine as version 11, and so is also able to take advantage of today’s multiple processor cores and 64-bit systems, but has been enhanced to make it this more user-friendly.
One important factor with speech recognition is that it should be provided with the best quality input possible. Consequently, once the software has been installed the audio performance (level and quality) of the microphone and the PC’s sound card is checked prior to the user training the system to his or her voice by reading from a choice of texts. This only takes about ten minutes or so before one can start actually using the software.