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A Computer that Hears You

New advancements in speech recognition software mean better voice navigation, surfing, formatting and more.

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This story appears in the December 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Talking to yourself may be a sign of madness, but talking to your computer is a sign of progress. Speech recognition software has come a long way over the years. Microsoft Vista users can find it built into the OS. It's fairly intuitive once you make it through the tutorials, and accuracy is pretty decent, making it an easy choice for Vista users on a tight budget.

Nuance Communication's Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10is the latest version of the gold standard speech recognition program. Pricing starts at $99 for the Standard Edition, which handles basic dictation needs; power users, however, will want to look to the $899 Professional Edition with included headset microphone. Users should be prepared to spend some quality time with Dragon to train the program, get accustomed to the interface and learn the commands. Once you get going, you'll be dictating, formatting, opening programs, surfing the net and navigating documents with your voice.

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