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Voice-Activated PDAs: Brilliant? Or Just Silly?

This morning Microsoft announced a new product called Voice Command, an add-on piece of software that allows PocketPC users to control their PDAs using natural language commands. Priced at just $39.95, it’s a cheap added feature that should thrill early adopters. But is it really an improvement on existing technology? Does it actually improve the functionality of a handheld organizer to tell it, “Go to my calendar,” rather than simply tapping the calendar button? In short, are technology companies creating new products with their customers’ needs in mind — or are they continuing to produce new gadgetry purely for their “gee whiz” factor?

Scott Kirsner asked this very question in his October Tech Support column, in which he extolled the virtues of his old-school, workhorse Nokia 6160 phone.

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