Pros: It does recognize speech and is fun to use.
Cons: No Mac version. Head set broke in half.
Right now I'm using Dragon Naturally Speaking to write this review about Dragon Naturally Speaking, but I am not typing...I am speaking into my computer and the program is translating my words and typing it for me into a word document. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a program to replace typing into documents- simply by talking to your computer via a microphone. If you are slow or tired of typing, have arthritis, have carpal tunnel syndrome or just want to be more efficient you will recognize the benefits of being able to talk into a document instead of typing into it. My prediction is that this program will allow many people that have been unable to use their computers due to handicaps, the ability to now be productive and join the computer age.
It is obvious that talking is always faster than typing no matter how long you've spent being a secretary and that is why Nuance, the developer of the program, decided to create a program that could recognize speech from humans. Dragon Naturally Speaking is not the first voice recognition program out there, but it is by far the best.
You can use Dragon Naturally Speaking to type into Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Works, WordPad, e-mail programs, instant messaging programs, a myriad of other programs, or use it while searching the web. By command Dragon can also move between these programs by just saying, "Open" which ever program you want.
Even young children can use Dragon Naturally Speaking. My 11-year-old son wrote a letter to his grandma using Dragon Naturally Speaking. He was able to figure out most of the commands of the program easier and faster than me. Not only was he able to send a letter to grandma quickly, but he had a blast doing it. He is looking forward to the time I will let him write school reports with Dragon, but I am not sure I would allow that yet as he needs to improve the typing skill a bit first.
Dragon claims it is 99% accurate in recognizing the words you are speaking, with absolutely no spelling mistakes. Dragon learns your voice and will type your sentence in completely with very little mistakes-after it has been trained. Dragon also recognizes commands for programs like Microsoft Word such as "undo", "correct", or "paste". The program makes a lot of mistakes at first and may be a little time consuming to teach the dragon your voice. When I was using Dragon for my first document I would say that there was a mistake in each sentence where it did not recognize a word and typed in something else. I would have to say the command, "correct (the wrong word) " and then say the word that I wanted. There are many ways to correct words and mistakes, which you will learn by using the program.There are plenty of on-screen tutorials that teach you the commands easier. Most of the commands make sense, but if you have one that you prefer, you can customize your own. You can program Dragon to insert punctuation on its own and the program does it very well, probably better than the average person. Dragon will also recognize and correct major grammar problems. After my third document using Dragon, I noticed that there was only one mistaken word every two or three sentences. I have used it now on approximately 10 documents and I now notice only one mistake every four sentences. I have also noticed that Dragon is getting faster at typing in what I say now that it recognizes my voice and therefore I can speak faster.
Nuance claims that Dragon will increase your productivity by at least three times faster than typing. Nuance claims that most people type at a slow 40 words per minute but with Dragon they can type up to 160 words per minute. The program also claims that a 900 word document that usually takes 22 minutes to type will now take 6 minutes. That is probably only true if you are reading the document. If you are not sure what you are going to type, you have to stop and think before you speak or you have to go back and make corrections.
Professionals are recognizing the possibilities of this amazing program and you may see your Doctor or nurse using it soon. Dragon comes in three different versions including standard, preferred, and professional. Right now I'm using standard Dragon Speak. There are also professional, legal and medical versions of the program available.
On Nuance's web site, you can try to beat a man using Dragon speak as you are typing. I tried this and got a measly 48 words per minute. I was still typing while my Dragon competitor was finished with the sentence and onto telling me about the benefits of Dragon speak versus typing. While using this I can attest to the speed of Dragon speak.
With Dragon Speak you get a basic microphone head set, the installation CD and an installation guide.
Dragon Naturally Speaking version is able to recognize several languages, which are US English, UK English, Australian English, Canadian English, Indian English and Southeast Asian English.
Even though you will be speaking into a microphone and Dragon will translate and write your words into a document, you will still want to have a mouse and keyboard for some of the functions- it just makes it easier as sometimes you will use the mouse to make corrections.
When you are installing Dragon Naturally Speaking the program makes sure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements, if your system does not meet the requirements Dragon will not be installed. The minimum computer requirements are -
· Intel Pentium 1 GHz processor or its equivalent AMD processor
· 512 MB RAM or one GB RAM or Windows Vista
· 1 GB free hard disk space
· L2 Cache: 512 KB
· Supported Operating Systems: Windows server 2000, Windows server 2003, windows XP SP 2 or higher - 32 bit -home and Professional, Windows 2000 SP four or higher, Windows Vista or Windows Vista SP1, 32 bit(all editions)
· DVD -- ROM drive(required for installation)
· Microsoft Internet explorer six or higher
· Nuance -- approved noise -- canceling headset microphone ( included)
The recommended specifications are:
· Intel Pentium/2.4 GHz processor) 1.6 GHz dual core processor)
· 1 GB RAM
· L2 cache: 1 MB
(By the way... Dragon put the above bullets in for me in the above section- All I had to say was "bullet" before each line. Pretty nifty!)
After the program is installed on your computer, you will test your microphone by reading a script. Once your microphone is approved, you will go through initial training. Training is a process where you read text so that Dragon can more easily recognize your voice. Completing the initial training before you start dictating enhances your speech recognition accuracy.
Dragon naturally speaking 10 standard version is licensed on a per individual basis. What this means is, only one person is allowed to make a voice profile. You are able to install the program on several computers, but only one person is able to make a voice profile. You are allowed to have five profiles of your own voice. If you would like to have the license to have more than one person use the Dragon program you must purchase the professional program. Now I realize that the programmed is licensed for only one user, but I don't really see what is stopping a person from allowing someone else to start a voice profile, especially a family member that has similar voice inflections. As an experiment I made a voice profile for myself and also one for my daughter and the program still ran without any problems. Later, I let my son use my voice profile to write a letter to his Grandmother and Dragon seemed to recognize his voice as well as mine.
I really like Dragon Naturally Speaking, it gives me a break from typing and it is fun to use. After using Dragon, it feels odd to go back to typing. I kept trying to use the Dragon spoken commands when I was typing into Microsoft word. So, instead of back spacing to correct a word- I would say "scratch that" which is Dragons verbal command for back space. Dragon will not completely replace my typing, but I will use it at least half the time to give my hands a break.