Voice-recognition software has come a long way since the days when it would understand only about one word in 50. Powerful processors and more sophisticated software mean that talking to your PC to create text onscreen is now a reality. And ScanSoft's Dragon NaturallySpeaking software is among the best-known packages available.

It promises recognition speeds of up to 160 words per minute and allows you to control Windows apps by voice. The Mobile version is designed to be used in conjunction with a digital recording device. It comes with a Philips Digital Voice Tracer 7630 - use this for dictation on the move, then plug it into your PC to put your words onscreen.

This is a really useful tool, particularly for professionals, such as surveyors, estate agents or journalists, who make voice notes.

I found the software impressively accurate. In fact, to test it out I used it to write some of this review. And while I won't be giving up my keyboard just yet, for those who can't or won't type it's a viable alternative. You will have to train it (and yourself) to get the best results, and a quiet environment is a must. But if you put in the effort, you need never be a struggling typist again.

ScanSoft promises accuracy ratings of 99 percent. While I was pleasantly surprised by the program's effectiveness, the results achieved were way off this figure, and making corrections by voice is tricky. But there are tutorials to help you, so with a bit of patience you could probably achieve something nearer to the quoted figure.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking : Specs

  • 500MHz Pentium III processor
  • Windows Me/2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 500MB hard disk space
  • CD-ROM drive
  • 16bit sound card
  • speakers
  • 500MHz Pentium III processor
  • Windows Me/2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 500MB hard disk space
  • CD-ROM drive
  • 16bit sound card
  • speakers

OUR VERDICT

At £200, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8.0 Mobile doesn't come cheap, but the package does include the voice recorder and headset. It's impressively accurate and, as long as you put in the effort to train it and learn how to use it to best effect, you might be able to give up your keyboard for good.

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