Dragon NaturallySpeaking is an advanced system for turning speech into text. You are supposed to be able to just start talking and it will transcribe your words instantly into accurate text. It can even recognize big words, and hard to spell words, speeding up the process of getting text onto a page. But does it really work like it’s shown to?
Dragon is the most popular mainstream voice recognition software on the market, and is designed to allow you to free up your hands so you don’t have to type. When you see it in action it’s pretty impressive, the person starts talking and words quickly follow. When compared to typing it’s clear to see the advantage in just speaking and having your words show up automatically. Especially if you have any sort of disability that prevents you from using a keyboard or a mouse.
They claim that using their software is fast, fun, and more convenient than typing or using a mouse. By just talking to your computer, and having it follow your commands, and turning your text into words, their claim is that you can get more done, with less effort, and in less time.
They say that speaking is many times faster than typing. What we discovered though, is that by the time you go back and make the corrections, either by using the software or with the keyboard and mouse, the time is about the same.
Many people say Dragon has helped them speed up their article writing, or their paper writing, and medical transcription seems to be one of its uses. There isn’t really any other voice software on the market that gets as much attention.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is marketed to individuals, businesses, and the healthcare industry, and comes with different price tags depending on which type you go with. For individuals the prices start at $100 for the Home edition and twice that for the premium edition. If you go the business route they have customized solutions for whatever industry you’re in, and they want you to contact them to get an idea of how they can help you, and a personalized quote.
You definitely have to put the time in to training the software to get used to your way of saying different words. This can be pretty boring and involves speaking samples of text for several minutes per training session. The accuracy is supposed to improve the more you train it, so if you want to have a less aggravating time with it, it’s recommended to train it as much as you can.
Dragon Naturally Speaking claims to work well right out of the box, but even this requires a few minutes of training. Once you finish that it starts generating text from the words that you speak, which can be pretty mesmerizing when you first use it.
The biggest pro is that this provides instant relief to tired hands, fingers, and wrists if you do a lot of typing for your job, or as an author. The con is that you will now be using your voice mostly, and your voice can wear out just like your hands and fingers. You also have to get used to putting your thoughts into spoken words, which is different than staying silent and just typing what you’re thinking.
The software works best when you make complete sentences spoken in a natural voice. But, it can be hard to formulate full sentences in your head and speak them all in one go without chopping them up. Usually what ends up happening is you say a few words and then see if it got it right, and then you say a few more words.
Another pro is that with the premium package you can speak into a voice recorder and Dragon NaturallySpeaking will transcribe that for you into a text file. Then you just have to go through and make sure they got it right, making corrections and edits instead of using it line by line directly.
They have settings you can use that will automatically punctuate sentences for you, like adding commas and periods, but this seems to still be in its early stages and get it wrong most of the time. This means you’ll have to say the word comma when you want one in the word period when you want to end a sentence.
Getting It Wrong
No matter how accurate they claim it to be, Dragon will habitually get words wrong, especially particles, which can make a sentence sound wrong, or be completely opposite if it leaves out a “not” or puts “has” instead of “hasn’t”. While it may be true that speaking is much faster than typing, by the time you go back and correct all of the mistakes that the software makes, and read through everything you’ve just typed to make sure that it’s accurate, you could have just typed it once, corrected your typos as you go, and be done.
There’s really no easy fix to the problem that Dragon has with homonyms. They’re their there is almost an impossibility for it, although it will usually get them right if you speak the sentence fast enough, based on the context.
Final Dragon Naturally Speaking Review
Dragon is fun to use, mostly because of the novelty of seeing your spoken words show up as text nearly instantly. For important projects, or for business when you just can’t make mistake, it’s too unreliable to be able to used as they show it being used.
If you invest the time needed to train the software, and if you focus on what you’re doing while you’re doing it, correcting the mistakes when it makes them, it can be useful, and take the strain off your fingers and wrists.
Those with disabilities will find that the software is indeed helpful in using many features of the computer without the need of a mouse or keyboard. However, this will still require a lot of training and getting used to the different commands it comes pre-loaded with.
Dragon is pretty fun software, but don’t expect to be able to rely on it entirely for all of your typing needs. It makes too many mistakes to be used for things like instant messages, important schoolwork or business emails. For things that are less important, it can be fun to get your computer to do things, like search on Google or post to Facebook just using your voice. Whether that novelty is worth the price is up to you.