Earlier this week Philips held the formal UK launch of the company's new SpeechMike Air, the wireless version of the company's widely used digital dictation mike and PC navigation device. The device has all the functionality of the standard SpeechMike – but without the constraints of a cable. Here's what we wrote about the SpeechMike Air earlier this year in the Insider newsletter – the only difference is Philips has now made some changes to the slider version options – and the device is now starting to ship…

Philips manager Wolfgang Spannlang said the new device had been under development for a long time (Philips first looked at wireless 10 years ago) and was only being launched now because the company had overcome the problems with Bluetooth pairing, data buffering, power consumption (upto 8 hours on one battery charge) and what happens when a user moves out of range (the Speech Mike Air has a range of 10 metres) that other wireless mike devices had struggled with in the past. SpeechMike Air, which comes in two versions – the push-button Pro and the traditional slider-switch Classic – will be available from this autumn, price circa £400.

Speaking to people at the launch (which included representatives of all the better known legal market DDS vendors, including Bighand, nFlow, SRC, Winscribe and Voice Technologies plus vendors, such as FWBS, who integrate Philips into their systems) the view was that while the Air was unlikely to be a mass market option, it would certainly find an audience. It was also agreed that Philips were right to put the extra R&D into overcoming the pairing issues with Bluetooth rather than rushing to market prematurely with a device that was a flaky to pair as some mobile phones are with car hands-free systems.



Its also worth nothing the event took place on the top floor of the Gherkin building in the City of London – and a spectacular venue it was as well. Oh Philips, you did spoil us. There again Philips does have a reputation for putting on more imaginative product launches: the European launch of the Air earlier in September in Saltzburg was timed to coincide with a Red Bull air race.