Speech Lessons - 2011 Infiniti M56 Long-Term Road Test

2011 Infiniti M56 Long-Term Road Test

2011 Infiniti M56: Speech Lessons

April 07, 2011

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It's Distracted Driving Awareness Month here in California, and every highway sign warns us (with terrible apostrophe abuse) "Texting Ticket $159+ Its Not Worth It." The CHP and more than 200 other police agencies are taking a zero-tolerance approach to drivers who hold their phones for chatting or texting as they drive.

So yesterday was a good day to test the voice-activated dialing command in the 2011 Infiniti M56. I used the touchscreen to pair my phone before setting out -- that was a snap. On the road, I followed the voice commands to access my iPhone's contacts. So far, so good. When asked who to call, I said, "Cheryl's cellphone."

And that's where the trouble started. The system heard it as "Sheryl," and the options I got all started with "Sh": Shankman, Shay, Shilo, Shingleton. Cleverly, I noted the last-name trend and I tried again with Cheryl's last name, which starts "Do." More like d'oh. The system wouldn't display her listing.

So when traffic came to a halt on the freeway, I used the touchscreen to make the call. (The M56's touchscreen dialing commands are locked out until the car is slowed to a crawl or, better yet, stopped. The CHP likes that, I'm sure.)

After I got home, I took the system up on its offer to analyze my voice to see if we could improve communication. The M56's screen and voice commands prompt you to say a specific phone number. The system records and analyzes your voice for volume, speed and start of speaking. If you talk too softly, too slowly or start your commands too early or too late, the system might not understand you.

In several tests, the system told me that my volume and speed were good, but I was starting to speak too soon after the system's prompt. I thought I was waiting, but finally, I did a silent count to three before I started speaking. That was a tad too long, as you see in the screen shot. A two-count turned out to be perfect. And when I tried my voice commands again, I had better results in getting the contacts I wanted. Thanks for the elocution lesson, Infiniti.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @6,562 miles

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