This is a quick review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, one of the best dictation software applications available. Well, so far as my own experience is concerned, this is THE best dictation software application, but if there are other dictation software applications existing that are in the same league, I’m not aware of them. No, the speech dictation feature that comes with Windows 10 is no match.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the dictation software from a company called Nuance. The dictation software application isn’t the only application they have in their kitty. They offer many documentation management software applications but my main concern is the dictation software.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, dictation software allows you to type by speaking. You dictate. For example, when I’m writing this blog post, I’m actually speaking into a microphone and it is being typed in MS Word. This can increase your typing speed by 4 or 5 times, depending on how fast and how clearly you can speak. I use it because I have cerebral palsy so I cannot type as fast as “normal” people do. I can use just two fingers of my hands so by using Dragon NaturallySpeakibut I can type as fast as anyone could.
This is a quick review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking but at a later stage I would also like to write a comprehensive review. Here are the main points of my quick review:
1. Dragon NaturallySpeaking can work out of the box
Although a little bit of training is required Dragon NaturallySpeaking can work out of the box. “Out-of-the-box” means that you can start using it as soon as you have installed it without much “training”.
“Training” in terms of a dictation software means you run a module that makes you read some text out loud. You need to read the text in your natural way of speaking and while you are reading the text out loud Dragon NaturallySpeaking is gathering your voice data. It tries to understand how you use different words, word combinations and sentences and learns to integrate them as accurately as possible.
Since different people in different parts of the world speak English differently (Dragon NaturallySpeaking is also available for other languages), when you are setting up your account profile you can select to which region of the world you belong.
Unlike many other dictation software applications, you don’t need to train Dragon NaturallySpeaking much. For example, I could have written this review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking with the same ease if I had just installed it. But of course, you need to have a clear accent and a lot depends on how you speak into the microphone, and also, what’s the quality of your microphone.
2. Dragon NaturallySpeaking learns along the way
As I have mentioned above, you don’t need to “train” Dragon NaturallySpeaking but it doesn’t mean you don’t get to adapt it according to your speaking style. It is constantly learning. Even when I’m typing this it is learning.
3. It has a very comprehensive vocabulary
As far as English words are concerned, I have really come across a word Dragon NaturallySpeaking cannot understand. Even the most complex words it can type provided you can say those words with clarity. Yes, there is some confusion sometimes when similar sounding words are spoken but that would be a problem with most of the dictation software applications. For example, sometimes if I say something like, “I’m going to the market”, it may type “I’m going two the market”. But it mostly happens when there is a break in my sentence, something like “I’m going”, “to”, and “the market”. The same thing can happen between “for” and “four”.
4. You can train Dragon NaturallySpeaking to say custom words
Let’s say I want to write “Kangana Ranaut”. Now, it is not an English word. So in a section called “Add a new word or phrase…” you can add such words with great ease.
5. You can assign hotkeys for various Dragon NaturallySpeaking functions
Although you can fully control how Dragon NaturallySpeaking functions, with your mouse, but repeatedly using your mouse can be a hassle. For example, I don’t want Dragon NaturallySpeaking to process what I’m saying all the time. I want it to process my speech only when I’m dictating. So you can switch it on and off. Normally it can be toggled. You take the cursor there in the system tray, and click it. The icon turns green and Dragon NaturallySpeaking dictation is turned on. You click on the icon again and it turns red which means Dragon NaturallySpeaking dictation is turned off. But instead of having to click on the icon in the system tray, I have simply assigned the “F4” keyboard key to this function. You can assign hotkeys to almost all the functions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
6. Dragon NaturallySpeaking works with almost all the devices
You don’t just use MS Word. You might be using a text editor. You might be using Google Docs where you work within a browser window. You might be using some other software to enter text. There are compatible applications and there are incompatible applications but Dragon NaturallySpeaking can work in almost any application. It is compatible with MS Word – there is a Word add-on that brings all the functionalities of Dragon NaturallySpeaking within MS Word and other MS Office applications. There are Dragon NaturallySpeaking extensions available for all the major browsers like Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
7. The Dragon NaturallySpeaking support is not very good
Online support these days is very important and Nuance provide support as if it is still early 2000’s. They have no presence on Twitter and they don’t have online chat support. People complain that even on their help forum, they rarely respond. Although you don’t come across many problems while using Dragon NaturallySpeaking, sometimes there are some compatibility issues that are quite nagging. For example, when I keep the Dragon NaturallySpeaking add-on in MS Word activated, Word keeps on crashing. So I never use the main Dragon NaturallySpeaking functions within MS Word.
The final verdict of my quick review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking
As I have already mentioned above, when it comes to choosing a dictation software for some serious work, as of now nothing beats Dragon NaturallySpeaking. You can also dictate in Google Docs but dictation in Google Docs is nothing compared to the way Dragon NaturallySpeaking integrates your words and your punctuation command. Having said that, a great thing about dictation in Google Docs is that you can dictate in many native languages, which you cannot do in Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
It’s a bit on the expensive side but considering the amount of work that can be achieved in just a small amount of time, it pays for itself within a week. If you want some serious dictation software application for your PC or laptop, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the only choice you have got. There might be better dictation software applications out there, but I haven’t been able to find them.
My greatest peeve with Dragon NaturallySpeaking is that it is not available in Ubuntu. Don’t believe in all those tutorials that try to convince you into believing that you can make Dragon NaturallySpeaking work in Ubuntu; you will end up wasting lots of time. This is a big reason why am stuck with Windows 10.
This is a quick review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I hope to write a bigger, more comprehensive review within the coming months.