Review: Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 12

I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to voice recognition software due to past issues such as not being able to pick up peoples’ accents, having to go back and correct misspelled or pronounced words, and taking time to get your diction right to meet the standards the software has set. And as I was to find out, that while the accuracy has much improved compared to past iterations, there is still a little way to before…

 

By Mike Wheeler

I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to voice recognition software due to past issues such as not being able to pick up peoples’ accents, having to go back and correct misspelled or pronounced words, and taking time to get your diction right to meet the standards the software has set. And as I was to find out, that while the accuracy has much improved compared to past iterations, there is still a little way to before I'm fully convinced that this product has reached its apex as something that can be solely relied on when putting together word documents.

Let's start with the setup. This is pretty straightforward and was easy to do. You download the software onto your computer and follow the prompts to install. This will take the best part of five minutes. Once that has been completed, it will then take you through several tutorials whereby it gets used to your voice and accent and also takes you through some of the commands you must say when dictating. Again, these are pretty straightforward and very useful as it tells you how to structure your commands when speaking.

So once I was all set up, how does it work in the real world? If I was to give an honest assessment I would say it is more hit than miss, but miss it does on occasion. For example, I am dictating this review using the software. There has been at least one mistake in each sentence I have composed (for example, the word 'composed' came up 'posed',  ',posed' and 'imposed' – I ended up typing it in). However, before I start getting all sniffy I should point out that in the paraphernalia that accompanied the instructions, it did say that over time it would get used to people's voices and the idiosyncrasies that come with it and get to 'know' how the owner of the software pronounces words. So words that it did not initially recognise, it would ‘learn’ over time. And as this is the first document I have produced, I would expect it to have some teething problems, which in turn, I would expect to decrease the more I use the software.

So who is this software aimed at? According to Dragon anybody and everybody, but this would be of particular use to those who do a lot of dictation work – legal secretaries, personal assistants, or CEOs of small companies whose typing skills aren’t that great. As it was, I currently type almost as fast – and a little more accurately – than Dragon. However, I would imagine over time that would turn around.

Overall, I think that Dragon’s latest dictation software is an improvement on the last iteration, with the company making sure that some of the bugs have been ironed out. Am I totally sold on it? Almost. They must be pretty close to getting it to 99.9 percent accuracy, and when that happens, it’ll sell by the bucketload.

 

Pros: Much improved accuracy, easy to use and install, can be a time saver for some
Cons: Can almost type as fast as you dictate

 

4.2 Shacks Out of 5

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