Voice recognition software has come a very, very long way over the last decade. Put another way, it’s now usable.
The latest version of Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home software, version 11, is the best yet, and is light-years ahead of earlier versions that were spotty and often frustrating. It’s also more affordable, currently $65 at Amazon.com (MSRP $99).
In addition to having your computer type what you say, NaturallySpeaking also adds voice interaction with your PC like “Open Word” or “ Send email to…”
Who would enjoy receiving Dragon NaturallySpeaking as a holiday gift? Mostly people who don’t type fast or well but who use their computer a lot, older PC users, and those who dictate often for their work or home projects.
Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking $99 @ Nuance.com
Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking $65 @ Amazon.com
Buying for a Mac user? Check out Dragon Dictate 2.
Tablets have been very popular this year and while the Kindle Fire isn’t the best tablet you can buy (or give) this holiday season, it is the most affordable tablet that actually works.
And it’s a unique gift because it can benefit users in many ways; its users can read books and magazines, watch video, listen to music, browse the web, check email, and even play games. And at $199, it’s not only one of the most affordable tablets, it’s better than many Android tablets twice its price.
The Kindle Fire is a great gift idea for just about anyone – except the tech-phobic or current iPad owners. But be careful when gifting to young children; you can make purchases right from the device, so you have to be vigilant…
Kindle Fire Android Tablet $199 @ Amazon.com
Blu-ray came into its own in 2010; although the technology has been around for years, this was its best year yet. In the past, finding a movie that wasn’t on the new release list was a challenge, but now there are not only new movies on Blu-ray, but many older – and even classic films – as well.
Blu-ray, if you don’t know, is like a DVD, but with much higher resolution. If someone has a TV larger than 40”, they will certainly appreciate the difference. And if the person on your list is movie buff, they’ll enjoy your gift for years to come.
This Blu-ray player from Samsung offers not only Blu-ray disc playback, but DVD as well. It even upscales standard definition DVD video to look better on HDTVs. Plus, there are built-in apps which allow you to watch Internet video from multiple sources like Netflix, Vudu, and Blockbuster, not to mention audio from Internet radio services like Pandora. And with Samsung’s app system, the player can be updated over time with additional sources of online content.
The Samsung BD-C5500 is relatively inexpensive at $111 @ Amazon.com.
Any person on your holiday list with a computer will appreciate this handy (and inexpensive) gift. It’s the 16GB USB flash drive from SanDisk, the Cruzer SDCZ36-016G-A11.
It works with just about any computer – Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS 10 and Linux – and is a great way to keep and move files, watch video on a PS3 or DVD player, or keep a collection of mobile apps you can use anywhere.
Amazon has the 16GB SanDisk Cruzer for just $19, but you can also find it for less on eBay – just make sure the seller has high ratings.