Over the past several months I’ve been researching high and low for a new voice recognition microphone. My good old trusty Buddy Gooseneck microphone has finally started to show its age and no longer considered the top of its game. Since I use voice recognition technology for pretty much everything and it weighs in heavily to my overall happiness and productivity each day I need only the best! Keeping this in mind led to a far-reaching search across the net. I browsed the many voice recognition forums to see what people were using/recommending, looked at the Dragon NaturallySpeaking recommended hardware list, and called the good people at KnowBrainer to see what they suggest. In the end it seemed all roads lead to one product; the SpeechWare USB TableMike.
So what’s the big deal about this new microphone?
Seems there are some really revolutionary features and technology wrapped into the
SpeechWare USB 9-in-1 TableMike. A couple that really stood out to me:
- All-in-one package that includes an industry first 19″-24″ telescoping microphone boom, integrated speaker, microphone/speaker jacks, external foot pedal, high definition video camera, all that interface to a computer through a single USB port.
- Industry first integrated “Speech Equalizer” and “Automatic Gain Control Amplifier” automatically adjust microphone gain for use 10-20 inches away.
- Advanced digital signal processing removes external noise and increases speech recognition accuracy.
But the real thing that really sold me on this microphone was the only 5 star rating by Dragon NaturallySpeaking for a desktop microphone, and a very strong recommendation by Lunis Orcutt the owner of KnowBrainer. I have bought a lot of this voice recognition stuff from him over the years and have always found him to be spot on with his recommendations.
So I got me a SpeechWare USB 9-in-1 TableMike
I’m sure you’re all wondering… How does it work? How about I show you!
Watching the video above will show you how amazingly accurate the SpeechWare USB TableMike and Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 combination are. From my quick excerpt of text I achieved 100% accuracy, but don’t just look at the words as they type across the screen, listen to how clear the audio of this video is. Therein lies the beauty of the SpeechWare microphone with its advanced digital signal processing. My room was definitely not silent and without background noise, the microphone just filtered it all out!
Now I could go on and on about all the minute technical details, but that’s been done before and what I really want to focus on is the incredible difference this microphone makes for me as a quadriplegic user.
Difference the SpeechWare TableMike makes for a Quadriplegic
The SpeechWare USB 9-in-1 TableMike microphone is hands down the most accurate desktop mounted microphone I’ve ever used. Simply put it types what I say, exactly what I say, and with a level of accuracy similar to the best headset microphones out there. Big difference here, is I’m not wearing a dorky looking, uncomfortable headset for the entire day; huge plus in my book! So what does this extra accuracy mean for a quadriplegic… way more productivity, and probably the hugest thing for me… less frustration. You might not think about this much as an able-bodied user, but as a user who can not use my hands so well, every additional error means a frustrating, drawnout sequence of various dictation commands to “insert before…”, “select… “, “choose…” which after several corrections makes voice recognition not so fun. This doesn’t happen with the SpeechWare microphone; it is so accurate I find myself making corrections far less often.
The long, expandable boom and 10-20 inch speaking range lets me use the TableMike wherever I sit at my desk. I can move around, shift from side to side, back away from the screen, and still have excellent accuracy without having to worry about adjusting the microphone to keep it within a few inches of my mouth. Yes, I could get much of this flexibility and freedom from a headset, but with my limited hand dexterity this means I’d be wearing a headset for the entire day, with no break from the sweaty ear pad, and ever pressing headband. The additive effects of this quickly lead to a not so fun headache. Plus, headsets run out of batteries and fall off. I really can’t understate the difference the extended range of the TableMike makes for me as a quadriplegic. Before, I always had a microphone element right in my face that always made me feel like I needed to lean forward closer to get the best accuracy. Think about what all this leaning does to someone who once broke their neck… makes it very sore! With the new SpeechWare TableMike much of this neck stress and pain is going away as I learn that I no longer need to lean towards the microphone element. It’s really a relief to just sit here and dictate and not worry about the positioning of the microphone.
When I first decided to get this SpeechWare microphone I really didn’t think about much other than it being a great voice recognition microphone. Upon receiving, I realized that it could really be used for a lot more with the integrated speaker, optional camera, and headset, microphone, toggle switch ports on the back. I changed my Google Voice microphone and speaker settings to use this device as a VOIP telephone, and now have everything in one place when I use Skype with the optional HD webcam installed in the top USB port. Really makes for a nice package, and the user experience is far improved using a speaker mounted right on my desk instead of my home theater speakers broadcasting across the room. I also really appreciate the flexibility of having all the smarts of this device… the equalizer, digital signal processing, automatic gain control built into a tight package that is easily transportable with the detachable microphone boom. Gives me great comfort to know I can always take this microphone with me and use it on any computer as long as it has a USB port.
My Final Thoughts
The SpeechWare USB 9-in-1 TableMike is an incredible voice recognition microphone. Plain and simple, it types what I have to say with a huge degree of accuracy in a way that is very comfortable for me to use. If you’re interested in this product, it doesn’t come exactly cheap with a $379 price tag, but for someone who uses voice recognition technology 10+ hours per day I think the investment in productivity and lack of frustration is easily worth it. And, for those who want many of the benefits of the 9-in-1 product with a few less of the features there are the more reasonably priced 3-in-1 at $279 and the 6-in-1 at $329.
To wrap things up, a few pictures of the device, and one major caveat I learned when first installing this device.
Create a New Dragon NaturallySpeaking User File
One final thing I have to mention about the SpeechWare microphone is to make sure you create a new Dragon NaturallySpeaking user file! Upon receiving the product I was so excited to quickly get up and going that I didn’t bother with this step and instead adapted my existing user profile to the new microphone as I had done with so many products before it. BIG MISTAKE! My initial voice recognition results were far worse than I had anticipated. It actually seemed like this microphone was less accurate than the one I had been using before it. Little research, and it seems the speech model of this microphone is so dramatically different from almost all the microphones before it that it is absolutely imperative that you create a new user file that is based only on the speech model of this microphone. Once I did that, and trained my new user file I had absolutely incredible voice recognition accuracy.
Download and read the latest directions (http://www.tablemike.com/download.php), take the time to do things right the first time, and create a new user file!