Problematic Organizer

Motorola Inc.'s new StarTAC Clip-On Organizer is based on a fundamentally flawed idea, that a complex device that does many things is better than simple ones that do one thing well.

The Clip-On was developed by Starfish Software Inc., a small company acquired by Motorola last year that developed the credit card-size Rex line of organizer hardware. What Motorola has done, essentially, is put a Rex into an L-shaped case that fits around the backside of its StarTAC mobile phones.

The Clip-On has a spring-loaded bracket, so the 2.3-ounce device can be quickly removed from the StarTAC for viewing while talking. But the slender StarTAC acquires an uncomfortable heft with the Clip-On attached.

What's more, the benefit of mating this organizer to a StarTAC is minimal. The only added feature is a button on the front of the Clip-On that automatically dials any phone number highlighted on the organizer's screen. That trick notwithstanding, the Clip-On is a second-rate organizer.

-- Mike Langberg, San Jose Mercury News

StarTAC Clip-On

by Motorola Inc.

1-800-331-6456

www.mot.com/GSS/CSG/Products/cliponorganizer

$249

A Program That Hears

NaturallySpeaking 3.5 comes as close as anything on the market to delivering on the promise of computer speech recognition. But don't assume these powers come easily.

Despite claims on the box that the software handles ordinary conversational speech, the reality is that you must speak clearly and a bit more slowly than is comfortable to get best results. And you can expect one error for roughly every 10 words you dictate.

Don't bother buying this unless you are willing to invest a fairly substantial amount of time and effort learning how to make it work.

Perseverance starts with training sessions in which you must read long selections of prose that flash on the screen while the software analyzes your unique speech patterns. Happily, the rewards are great, particularly for those with a serious need to bypass the computer mouse and keyboard.

-- James Coates, Chicago Tribune

NaturallySpeaking

by Dragon Systems Inc.

www.dragonsys.com

$200

For Windows 95 and 98