1. Technology
Send to a Friend via Email
Voice Dial Lets You Talk to Your Cell Phone

See Also:
Test: What's Your Ideal Cell Phone?

See The Smallest Phones

6 shopping questions

Voice recognition is turning cellular phones into a portable secretariat. Impressed by the fact that software packages let you dictate text at your computer? Now, the same technology becomes a reality in the very hollow of your hand: in your cell phone.

Of course, voice dial has been around for a few years now, but users had to dial into their carrier's remote system - and that's if the option was available. But now, we're starting to see more and more companies, like Samsung and Ericsson, who manufacture phones that are powerful enough to do the whole job themselves: record your voice and recognize it.

How does it work? Let's say you want to add "Roger" to your directory. Typically, you will have to dictate up to three separate versions of "Roger" so that the phone can accurately sample the way you pronounce it and the unique characteristics of your voice. Then, simply dial the number for the last time...

As soon as you have a few entries in your directory, all you have to do is press a special key combination and dictate the name after the beep. Some phones are even quickies and as soon as you flip the cover off, a friendly voice asks: "Who would you like to call?"

Be cautious though: talking to machines can become very addictive!

Quick How To

Recently, I reviewed two voice-operated phones, Ericsson's T18z and Samsung's SCH-3500. And even though the people in my apartment building's elevator might think I am weird calling names at my phone, the experience has changed my mobile life... (until I had to return the phones). Especially when driving, there is no need to risk your life and pedestrian's lives trying to drive and browse through your directory when you can just say the name of the person you want to call. I was enchanted.

However, all voice-enabled phones were not created equal so here are the few things that you should keep in mind when shopping for such a device:

Memory
Can it keep 8, 10, 20 or even 30 names? You might find out that only 10 names is not enough to cover your numerous friends and contacts while 20 is sufficient.

Weight
More functions in phones adds more weight. Try to evaluate what you really need and the weight you are willing to carry. Ericsson's T18z only allows 10 voice dial names to be recorded, but it is much lighter than Samsung's SCH-3500.

Voice-operation
Some voice-enabled phones don't only let you voice dial but also access all of your phone's functions with voice. You can end up saying to your phone: "Internet" or "Schedule" to browse the wireless web or manage your appointments.

Help others make their decision about voice-dial. Is this an important feature? Take the following poll:

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.