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Review: Philips SMP4000 SpeechMike Air and AirBridge Wireless Adapter
I've been using a Philips SpeechMike Premium Air (SMP4000) for over a year now. It's been an amazing microphone. Speech recognition has been excellent with it even while working in a very busy emergency department with a lot of overhead pages and loud background noises. I cannot even begin to describe how noisy the environment is where I work. Despite this, the microphone has done a superb job filtering out all the background noise and allowing DMPE to recognize my voice with very high accuracy.
I've mastered button programming with the Philips Device Control Center (PDCC) assigning them to various commands. F1 inserts my name into the billing credit of Epic's EMR, F2 clears all the delimiters, F3 refreshes the chart, F4 puts hard stops into Epic for further documentation, "i" brings up the dictation box, ins/ovr transfers text from the dictation box to Epic, and EOL closes the chart.
Things have worked well, but working on a laptop in a cramped space doesn't allow much room to use the cradle that comes with the microphone. It was also awkward to set things up at my workstation with a laptop, cradle, USB cable from the computer to cradle, and the recommended USB cable to a power supply. Philips recommends that the cradle be powered by a power adapter. I later found that one of my laptop USB ports was a PowerShare port that provided the same amount of power as the included power adapter. Even with that, connecting two USB cables along with the cradle became a hassle. (For the record, I was able to use the cradle and charge the microphone with only one USB cable connected to my computer and no separate power cable, but Philips does not recommend this.)
I've been using the AirBridge for the past month and the results have been phenomenal. It was very easy to pair and has remained paired despite me switching between the AirBridge and my cradle attached to my laptop docking station at home. The reception seems to be better. With the cradle, I would occasionally get a vibration from a connection issue every so often (three to four times per shift) for a split second. I'm sure it was interference from our massive telemetry network. Working in the fifth busiest ER in the nation, we have a lot of monitors that have wireless connectivity so that a patient can be in a CT scanner and their vital signs are still displayed on the monitor screen in their now-vacant room and simultaneously in our telemetry monitoring station.
The AirBridge has not had a single episode of interference during the entire month I've been using it. The reception has been great. I once kept dictating while walking from the doctor's area to the pharmacy area (about 20 feet away) and came back to find that DMPE4 did not miss a single word. This was through a thick wall.
Several physicians in my group dictate. Some have the AirBridge and some still use the cradle. We can be sitting beside each other and dictate simultaneously without interference.
Initially, I was skeptical of the SpeechMike’s battery life since I didn't have a cradle to dock the microphone into during my shift. With power settings set to never go to sleep and never power off, I was able to get two full shifts (10 hours each) out of the microphone before the red light came on indicating a low battery.
I had been skeptical of changing the settings because Citrix (which we must use to connect to Epic) likes to grab hold of any USB device that is unmounted and is remounted. So, if the microphone became disconnected and then was reconnected, Citrix would mount it over the network and not allow the laptop to mount it locally. I thought if the microphone went to sleep, whenever it awakened it would be mounted by Citrix. This turned out to not be the case.
I set the sleep mode timer to 10 minutes and the power off timer to 2 hours. Despite several busy shifts, I was able to go 4 shifts without the red light coming on. I started to push it further, but feared the dreaded overnight shift that was coming up and not being able to dictate. I finally caved in and charged it. I probably dictate about 10-15 minutes each hour during my 10-hour shift. The sleep mode definitely extends the battery life, and to my surprise, Citrix hasn't mounted the microphone a single time. The microphone awakens very quickly when you pick it up. It will awaken if someone bumps into the counter. It only takes a few milliseconds for it to reconnect -- I literally pick it up and immediately start dictating without it missing anything.
Charging the microphone takes a few hours sitting on the cradle. You can plug a micro USB cable to the microphone for faster charging and for charging without the cradle if necessary.