• FS2Crew 737 Wilco Voice Commander Edition

    Review: FS2Crew 737 Wilco Voice Commander Edition

    By Gustavo Mercado (30 March 2010)

    Intro

    It is the second time I have the honor of reviewing a FS2Crew product, and yes I think FS2Crew is already at a level where I actually feel honored to try one of their new products. I had purchased the Level-D 767 FS2Crew product a while back and wow, how did it change the way I looked at flying the 767, and at flying in MSFS as a whole. The second time around I was lucky enough to win the commission to review the FS2Crew PMDG 747 queen of the skies version, and as I remember today although I didn't feel it was possible to improve significantly such a great product, I was proved wrong. It turns out FS2Crew improved the user interface and game play significantly and once again I was amazed at the quality and attention to detail of their product. This time around I was browsing FlightSim.Com as I religiously do every single day for new stuff to get my hands on and there it was... FS2Crew answered my requests to do a version for the Wilco 737 PIC, and not only that, they did it with voice recognition.

    I don't think that I ever accessed my email and wrote an email as fast as I did that day. The email was to Mr. Nels Anderson and the message short and sweet.... IF POSSIBLE THIS REVIEW IS MY NEXT ASSIGNMENT! It's a good thing Mr. Anderson usually answers his email relatively quickly and after a couple of hours I was assured this would be my next project. Next task is to go to the store and buy a good headset so the voice recognition works like a charm and let's take to the skies ASAP. The software worked like a charm on the very first try... Just a quick review of the basic commands so the voice recognition engine understands me and off I went. I'm 32 and I have had a couple of moments where I asked myself, how did I ever survive without a Blackberry? Or how did I ever pick my clothing before finding my beautiful wife? Or how did I ever fly without ATC or AI traffic? Well we can add a new one to the list... How did I ever fly without a voice commander? I tell you all there are things that are HARD to get used to, switching from 2D to 3D cockpit was something I cried tears of blood over but got it done, but this transition was easy and rewarding thanks to FS2Crew.

    Technical Stuff

    The software is available through direct download at the FlightSim.Com Pilot Shop. The file comes in a 254 MB compressed ZIP folder. You will need to have the speech recognition in your Vista or Windows 7 OS system in English for the program to work correctly. If you have an XP system you will need to download additional software which is listed in the manual. Windows Vista and 7 users will also need to turn off the User Account Control feature for the software to work.

    It is also highly recommended to get a good quality headset, and if you have not used the voice recognition in Vista or 7 you run through the tutorial and training program that comes with the OS so the speech recognition system works better with your voice. The program also brings a newly redesigned configuration manager which you will need to use for a couple of things. First you will need it to activate the license so the software will work in your system, and then you will use it to activate the FS2Crew panel in all versions of the 737 you might have in your system. The whole process is simple and should not take very long before you can give it a try.

    737 Voice Commander

    I think the best way to go at it the first time is to print out the manual, which is very good by the way. It's about 42 pages with all the details you need to use the software and for it to work appropriately. This way you can go through all the checklists and understand what is needed to answer every time the FO calls a checklist item, a lot of them we already know, but some are a little tricky and it takes good memory to recall and get right.

    As in all FS2Crew products there are key click spots in the cockpit that you use to access the menus. This version has only two and they are in the same place. They both are in the upper section of the RMI gauge and are basically side by side. The first one is the main panel and the second is the configuration panel.

    The main panel is the one you will mostly use throughout your flight. It will let you know in what stage of the flight you are and what checklist is coming up, and it will let you control actions such as toggling speech recognition on and off, headsets, calling the flight attendant, adjusting the volumes of the speech system, night lighting, etc. You will not be touching this panel very much and it can be kept hidden throughout the flight since you will be controlling checklists and giving the FO orders with your voice.

    The configuration panel is the one you will set prior to starting the flight to control certain functions much like the ones that are in the older versions of FS2Crew. You can setup the region of the audio of your crew, volume, start the preflight events (which is optional) fast forward time, let FS2Crew control the jetways before push and parking, select whether you will have a pushback, and the parameters for it, select a FO takeoff (which I have not tried to be honest), enter all V speeds, and arrival elevation data.

    Operationally there are really three things that you control with your voice which seem to be independent of each other. First you call the checklists with your FO, and interact with him through the voice recognition system, second you can order your FO to operate certain aircraft systems, and third you communicate with other players in your flight such as the pushback and gate agents, and flight attendants.

    Checklists work like a charm. According to FS2Crew they are based on real life operations (much like all of their products) and the flows work great. They are a little too short; it feels so great to call out the checklists with your voice that it leaves you wanting longer checklists, but if the checklists are that long in reality then no problem. Checklists include pre flight, before start, before taxi, before takeoff, after takeoff, descent, approach, landing, shutdown, securing. As I'm sure it is in real life not all are called and performed by you. Since you are the pilot flying, some are read and executed by the FO, such as after takeoff, descent and approach. I would have LOVED to have all of them done by me, but in the interest of making it real we will look the other way.

    You just took off and the FO is going through the after takeoff checklist... Just when you think how cool it is to be doing all of this without clicking the mouse or hitting a keyboard you realize that's not all this program does. After hearing the call positive rate of climb you say "gear up" and the First Officer does it. The FO can operate most of the autopilot parameters such as speed hold, auto throttle on, autopilot master, approach hold, VNAV hold, LNAV hold, heading select, VOR hold, flight director on off, climb thrust, heading XXX, speed XXX, course XXX, flight level XXX, altitude hold, and call flaps. You can pretty much start the descent and land without touching the mouse except for setting the FMC for landing.

    Last but not least you control with your voice all the pre departure events that are a trademark feature of the FS2Crew products. You answer the engineer for receiving and turning over the plane, you can ask for coffee, you have full communication with the pushback agent while pushing and all the way through disconnecting and saying good bye. All of this is optional of course; if you wish you can go direct to the preflight checks and get going which is what I do since these days I don't have that much time. If you do choose to do the before departure dance, there are many items that the FO does for you much like in the older versions of the software so make sure you read and understand who does what in the panel configuration prior to the preflight checks.

    All in all I can say the program was incredibly easy to use and get accustomed to, and it is so much fun using it. Until you actually try it you have no idea how much fun and how good it feels to go through checklists and order the FO to do tasks with your voice. I am not American and although I speak great English I have somewhat of an accent, but I have had no problems whatsoever with the voice recognition. The 737 PIC was always one of my favorite birds, but I had left it in the hangar for some time to focus on the Captain Sim 757. But since this product came up I have been sucked back into the 737 PIC, and not only that, now I can't wait till FS2Crew comes up with one for the Captain Sim 757, Level D 767, and Wilco Ejets. Mr. Bryan York you have done it once again, congratulations.

    All Said And Done

    Highs - This one is a game changer, incredibly fun and easy to use, it came to bring our hobby once again to a new level of realism. The newly redesigned configuration manager is top notch. It seems every time they come up with something new they go all out and the end product is always the highest quality, great to use, at an affordable price. It is because of companies like this that although Microsoft cancelled the ACES Studio our hobby will always live on.

    Lows - You kidding me? I want more and longer checklists! And please hurry up coming up with versions for all the payware birds out there! Forget about the defaults!

    The Verdict - No need to bore you anymore than I already have... Spectacular!

    Requirements

    Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or Windows 7
    Flight Simulator X or 9 with Wilco 737 PIC installed
    Headset or microphone (the higher the quality the better)
    Microsoft Direct X (March 2009 or later) *
    Microsoft Net Framework 3.5 or later *
    * Automatically installed by the installation program

    As Tested

    Microsoft Flight Simulator X (SP2)
    Windows 7
    3.22 Quad Core Extreme Processor
    4 GB high speed RAM
    526 MB Nvidia graphics accelerator with DirectX 10

    Gustavo Mercado Filer
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here

    Other Reviews By Gustavo Mercado:

    Air Hauler
    Zinertek Ultimate Airport Environment X
    FSX Missions Eurowings CRJ-700
    Captain Sim Boeing 757

  • Recent Forum Activity

    hjwalter

    Wide turning circle of two AI tail draggers

    Thread Starter: hjwalter

    Hi all, Two of my AI tail draggers, a Piper Cub and a Tiger Moth, don't seem to be able to make some of the tighter turns on taxiways on their way...

    Last Post By: GKKnupper Yesterday, 08:22 PM Go to last post
    n697dt

    FSX/Prepar3D Global AI Ship Traffic V2 by Henrik Nielsen

    Thread Starter: n697dt

    Does anybody know any reason why this wouldn't work in P3D v5, the aforementioned title; https://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/fslib.php?searchid=77761848...

    Last Post By: n697dt Yesterday, 07:19 PM Go to last post
    Tendet

    Joystick Throttle problem

    Thread Starter: Tendet

    Hi Not sure if this is the right area for my question? If not please move it to the correct one! I have bought Thrustmaster Flight Hotas X. Set...

    Last Post By: Tendet Yesterday, 03:17 PM Go to last post
    REDDAIR

    Instrument Landings (ILS)

    Thread Starter: REDDAIR

    Hello All, I have not been as loyal to FSX lately, but maybe part relates to my frustration about ILS landings. Not something earth shattering...

    Last Post By: PhantomTweak Yesterday, 02:17 PM Go to last post