Voice recognition software and voice synthesis software are both finding their ways into more and more gadgets from navigational systems to cellphone, but sometimes this feature does not really work out all that well. That's the case for Hewlett Packard's new HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger. The HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger has high ambitions but does not quite meet them in a way that makes it a practical choice for most people. The HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger is basically a smart phone with some pretty impressive features. It has a two inch color LCD screen, a pretty standard keypad for a normal mobile phone, a one point three megapixel digital camera built in, and comes with Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.0. The HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger also has a fast and easy to initiate WiFi connection that can allow the built in mobile version of Microsoft Internet Explorer to explore the Internet with ease.
Most of the HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger's design emphasis was placed on its voice recognition and voice synthesis features, and in many ways that was the source of the device's failing. For example, like many other voice recognition systems, the HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger does not to a very good job of recognizing voice commands in places with a lot of background noise and unusual word- especially names- are often misheard by the device. This is pretty much par for the course with most voice recognition systems, whether they're part of a portable device, a full blown computer system, or an automated customer service call center. The real failing of the HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger though is the fact that the device relays on voice commands to initiate a lot of functions and does not come with an alternative way to initiate those same functions with something like a track ball or scroll wheel . The fact that the unit lacks the controls to make it work without voice commands obviously makes it difficult to use under conditions where the voice commands are not as effective.
The other problem with this device is that it relates on voice to compose emails. Besides the problems already discussed with using voice in a crowded area with lots of background noise, this is even more frustrating because of the fact that instead of converting voice to text, the messages are simply recorded in WAV format and attached to the body of the email. This would obviously be frustrating for anyone receiving such a email, and the fact that the device does not have a good physical or virtual keyboard really does not leave much of an alternative. The HP iPAC 510 Voice Messenger also has voice synthesis capabilities which can be used to read emails, but with a very robotic and flat female voice, this will hardly be a pleasant experience.
It's kind of a shame in many ways that this device is not better thought out. After all, it does have excellent Internet browsing capabilities and even the voice features could come in handy under a lot of circumstances, but the lack of a decent pointing device as a back up for when the voice features do not work, is a serious omission.