I was having one problem after another recently with the Andrea Superbeam microphone and its drivers. So, even though my budget kind of hurt for it, I bought a SpeechWare 3-in-1 TableMike.
The TableMike was actually my second attempt; first, I tried a SpeechWare TravelMike, which is made for plugging into a laptop and being able to move around without disconnecting it. However, I had to return it. The biggest reason was that the soundcard/microphone combination has to plug upright into an L-shaped USB adapter, and the whole thing became so top heavy that the adapter kept pulling out of my USB ports, which meant my dictation and commands kept cutting out on me. A smaller reason was that the microphone wasn’t on automatically when I plugged it in; it defaults to Off, and you have to change modes by pressing a button that’s more of a bump, which took more force than I would like. My accuracy was great when the microphone actually worked, though, so I figured I’d give SpeechWare another try with the desktop microphone and built in soundcard.
I bought the 3 in 1 TableMike primarily because of my budget, but it’s working extremely well for what I want even without the extra features of the 6 in 1 or 9 in 1. Its first important feature was the switch underneath the base that allows you to choose to have the microphone on constantly, so that all you have to do is say, “Wake up” or “Stop listening.” (Be aware that this will disable the blue “Push” on/off button in the base; to turn the microphone off, you will have to use the voice command. To start using your voice again, you will have to click the microphone icon or use the shortcut key.) If you don’t use the always on feature, the blue on/off button is membrane and fairly easy to press, as are the volume and mode buttons.
The second feature is its automatic gain control, which is very very good for me. The microphone arm is long and flexible, which gives a good range, but even so, my voice can be hoarse or I’ll be sitting not quite upright. The gain control, if you choose to use it, compensates for a soft voice by boosting the microphone if necessary.
The microphone is also pretty compact, so if you want to go from room to room or put it in a bag or something, you can just detach the microphone arm. I generally keep it plugged in because I’m trying to spend more time upright at my desk instead of carrying everything onto my bed to get away from the neighbor’s music. The latter is bad for my posture and breath control. I haven’t yet noticed any problems with disconnecting or reconnecting this microphone.
I think the TableMike has enabled me to use Dragon with less effort; I’m not constantly straining to be sure I’m heard, and a stable base means I’m not fiddling with the mic position or knocking it over. If you need more features, like built in switch control of Dragon macros, then the 3 in 1 might be basic for you. But if you can make do, or you already have ways to activate the hotkeys, then this might be all you need.