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First Looks

L & H Voice Xpress Professional 4.0
 
The new version of this popular speech recognition package offers an improved user interface and greater accuracy.
 
By Greg Alwang July 22, 1999

Although speech recognition software has improved significantly in a short time, lengthy enrollment and poor initial accuracy are two elements that continue to frustrate users. L&H Voice Xpress Professional 4.0, Lernout & Hauspie's flagship product, breaks down these barriers. Usability and interface enhancements, along with tight integration with Microsoft Office 2000, lead to a smoother speech experience that will appeal to new and seasoned users alike.


Click to view screen shot.

Pro 4.0 has a new XpressStart feature that gets new users up and running in about 5 minutes--a far cry from the 45-plus minutes required by previous versions. We installed the software, enrolled, and began dictating in less than 15 minutes on our Pentium II/300 test machine. Initial accuracy was a decent 92 percent, but rose to 97 percent after only 2 hours of use and after running Vocabulary Extender, which learns the words and phrases that you typically use.


The enhanced accuracy and performance are results of an improved language model and a larger vocabulary (over 230,000 words). A new Recognition Advisor provides tips for positioning and tuning the microphone, extending the vocabulary, and creating dictation shortcuts.

We found the bundled Telex microphone far superior to those included with previous Voice Xpress versions. Pro 4.0 also works with the new crop of USB microphones.


Click to view screen shot.

Various dictation shortcuts simplify everyday use. You can now dictate keyboard commands with single words; for example, Enter instead of Enter key. When spelling Web addresses, you can say "dot com" instead of saying each character. Dictation macros can still be created, but now you can also create Personal Commands that can work globally or be categorized by application.


As with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and IBM's ViaVoice , correcting errors is the key to training Voice Xpress. Pro 4.0 makes better use of your corrections when it tunes the language model. With past versions, you could undo any dictation by saying "undo," but now you can also undo corrections and commands.

You can control the Windows desktop or any Windows application simply by saying the menu names and menu choices, such as "file menu" and "export" to start an export action. Pro 4.0 adds support for Microsoft Office 2000 features, such as text-label orientation, nested tables, and the new multilevel Office clipboard.

Bundled with Pro 4.0 is L&H Talking Tools, which includes a voice-activated WebFinder, calculator, clock, address book, and scheduler. If you aspire to do most of your daily work by voice, you'll find these tools quite helpful.

The new XpressRecorder lets you record and edit voice files in WAV format on any PC with a microphone. You can transcribe these WAV files or recordings from a hand-held unit into text with XpressPad Mobile. These tools let mobile users record anywhere and still have the flexibility to use Pro 4.0 to transcribe the results.

L&H Voice Xpress Professional 4.0's abbreviated enrollment appeals to users who want to dive into useful dictation without spending hours in training. The improved accuracy and breadth of its features make Pro 4.0 a powerful voice recognition contender.

L&H Voice Xpress Professional 4.0.  Lernout & Hauspie, Burlington, MA; 800-380-1234; http://www.lhsl.com/.