It’s no coincidence that Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the most well known name in voice recognition software. If you haven’t heard of it, then you probably haven’t searched for voice recognition software before. That kind of brand awareness is well earned because this is a phenomenal product. In fact, it’s the best one out there for the PC platform and easily earned the TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award in our review of voice recognition software.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking combines a nice palette of features with excellent accuracy in translating your voice to commands and text. In fact, it scored better than all but one of the other programs in this review. That accuracy is just one indication of how well the speech engine in this program works. Another consideration is how well the program responds to commands and how quickly it recognizes those commands. Some other products in this review required several seconds after each command to interpret it before acting. Dragon voice recognition software, on the other hand, executes commands smoothly. Something that is a definite plus in a voice recognition software.
There was one other key feature that helped this product make it to the top of the list: its navigation capabilities. Only one other program in this review even came close to being able to interpret what buttons or links you wanted to click in a program. The other programs only come with a limited number of commands and then require you to create your own customized commands for any other operations you want to perform. It doesn't need any customized commands, instead identifying any buttons or links on the screen that might correspond to what you just said.
It’s the convenient features like these that really helped the Dragon Premium Edition stand out above the rest of the programs in this review.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition comes in ahead of our No. 2 product, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home Edition simply because it has added features such as customizable commands and being blue tooth compatible.
Possibly the most imperative step in using voice recognition software is creating a voice profile. This allows the program to adapt to your voice, your accent and your verbal idiosyncrasies so it can better understand what you say. So it should come as no surprise that Dragon does an excellent job of creating a profile for each user and providing the tools to make the program more accurate.
Upon starting, you read some text in order to listen how you say common words. The computer then takes what it learned from hearing you say those words and uses that information to augment your voice profile and more accurately identify what you say. Even after you complete your voice profile, the application provides more voice training so you can continue to improve your voice profile. The sample text gets denser and uses more obscure words as you go so that the software can understand what you say even if you are using jargon or uncommon words. We highly recommend completing all the voice training modules, even though it is a little time consuming at first. The benefits are worth spending the time because the program improves with each module. By the time you finish, the program will have a solid understanding of your voice and commit far fewer errors.
This voice recognition software program utilizes an unobtrusive little taskbar that allows you to customize commands, and it also shows you the status of the microphone (off, live, on standby). While it can get in the way occasionally, it is movable and can even be minimized or hide behind windows.
Dragon voice recognition software has one of the most versatile command systems of any of the programs we reviewed. Unlike some of the programs in the bottom of the review, it actually syncs well with all the standard programs you have on your computer and allows you to use the Windows menu system well.
You can open and close programs, change settings in the program, navigate the Start menu and use a web browser. It doesn’t matter what sites you go to either. For instance, I can go to my web-based email account and simply say the name of the links I want to click: log in, check mail, trash folder, etc. Dragon NaturallySpeaking is able to identify what you want to do by the words associated with each button or link. The same holds true for most websites, although it does have some problems with Flash-heavy website navigation.
If you say a command and Dragon NaturallySpeaking thinks there is more than one option on the screen that applies to what you said, it numbers the possible responses. All you have to do is say the number corresponding to the command you meant. This is an exceptionally good design feature because it allows you to navigate complex sites and menus without the program bogging down.
One of the main reasons for using voice recognition software is for dictation. Even though everyone knows how to use a keyboard these days, a large majority of the population can still speak faster than they can type. That’s where voice recognition software becomes so useful. Fortunately, the product doesn’t disappoint in this regard either.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking was accurate enough and fast enough to keep up with use speaking at regular conversational speeds, meaning you don’t have to talk slower or enunciate more than you normally do when using the product (unless, of course, you are a chronic mumbler). In fact, it actually seemed to perform better at normal speaking pace than when we slowed down and enunciated. We noticed that at standard conversational speeds, the program occasionally missed some short words altogether, like “the” and “to,” so you may still need to emphasize those shorter connecting words a little more than normal.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking also handled our punctuation commands nicely, so that there was very little editing needing to be done before the document was grammatically correct. In fact, if you seldom use more than the standard period, comma, question mark and quotation mark, you’ll almost never need to edit your punctuation commands.
We conducted a test to see how well Dragon NaturallySpeaking performs dictation, and it did so admirably, with a final score of 93% accuracy. The test was performed at two speeds, the first at a pace slower than natural speech with enunciated words and punctuation commands. The second round was done at a conversational pace in a normal tone of voice. Dragon did well in both tests, even seeming to perform slightly better at the normal conversation speed. The program even caught a lot of the jargon we threw in to make it difficult, though it didn’t catch everything. Overall, the accuracy is such that it requires very little editing of the document, certainly no more than the average person requires from typing a document.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software was fairly easy to use, although there are a lot of commands that you need to know before you become truly proficient with it. While the learning curve is steep when you first begin, after sustained use you easily grow accustomed to the commands and it becomes very easy to use.
The menu bar allows you to access program settings, help menus and lists of commands if you need them. And the accuracy of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech engine adds greatly to its overall ease of use because the program usually understands you the first time you say a command. You don’t need to yell or repeat yourself, as we found ourselves doing with other programs.
The Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software is produced by Nuance Communications, Inc. Nuance provides a lot of information about the product on their website, so you can often find answers to your questions there.
In addition to feature lists, you can find a FAQ section that covers common problems and questions, a knowledgebase that covers technical problems other people have had (in case they relate to problems you’re having) and a user guide to help you use the program more effectively.
If you have further problems, you can contact the company by phone or email to speak to tech support.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software manages to get it all right when creating a voice recognition program that provides everything you need to free yourself from the keyboard and the mouse. The combination of excellent features, accurate voice recognition and simple commands make it easy and effective to use, no matter what you use it for.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition offers excellent features.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition is at the high end of the cost chart.
If you are willing to spend the extra money Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition is a great product.