If you have ever tried voice recognition software and been horribly disappointed, you are not alone. In the past few years I tried two different brands and neither were good for anything but a laugh about how inept they were. But the third time has been a charm.
The last time I tried Dragon, it was version 5, which was little more than a paperweight. NaturallySpeaking at the time was so innaccurate that it was impossibly easier to just type the words than to continually correct the software. And that was after about 15 hours of training the software on my voice. Somehow the Dragon folks found whatever magic formula it was that makes voice recognition actually work and have incorporated it into their software.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 does deliver on its promises. Using it is much faster than manual typing. As a matter of fact, I am dictating this article with my Dragon software. For freelance writers, this is a godsend. Even if you do enjoy typing, for times when hand cramps are a problem this software steps in effortlessly to help you get projects finished.
Dragon 9 is not perfect, but it is startlingly accurate compared to other voice recognition software. So far in this article I have had to correct it three times, but even doing so it has been faster than if I typed the entire article myself.
The voice training time for version 9 is only about 15 minutes, compared with the hours required of earlier versions. It can be used in conjunction with e-mail, Microsoft Office, as well as with its own text notepad can be copied and pasted anywhere. There are several other web applications, but some are impractical. You can use it to type in urls, but I have found that to be quicker with standard typing.
For those of you working on manuscripts, it brings a whole new dimension to creative writing. Imagine being able to lean back in the chair with your eyes closed and dictate your manuscript the way you see it in your mind. There may be a few mistakes in there, but being able to get the words down as quickly as you can think them makes it worthwhile. The mistakes are really few and far between, but the text does have to be proofed carefully for this reason.
I imagine this is also extremely effective for people with limited eyesight, or for those with carpal tunnel or arthritis. It is not good for multiple users, as it does have to be trained to the user’s voice. It also cannot be used effectively if there is a lot of noise in the background. But for quiet times with a user who is trained it, it’s almost like being on Star Trek.