With Dragon Premium voice recognition software, you can dictate either with a microphone headset or just speak into your computer’s microphone. You can pre-program the software to add commands that may not be pre-installed. You can also set preferences so tricky dictation, like spelling out numbers versus writing numerals, will be automatic. This software dictates and transcribes documents very accurately. In our tests, the software downloaded relatively slowly, but it performed well once everything was set up and ready to go. Its command capabilities, accuracy and user-friendliness are reasons why Business.com has selected it as the best voice recognition application.
The software comes with plenty of commands, but Dragon Premium still gives you the ability to add more. Most of the commands are associated with grammar and corrections or moving the screen, but you can program the software to open your email, open projects and begin games.
The command feature also gives you the option to specify further if it gets confused about what you mean. If you are asking it to perform a task that lends itself to multiple options, it numbers your options on the page. All you have to do is say the number and the program will perform the appropriate task.
Transferring speech to text is tricky, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium rises to the challenge. This software scored high in our accuracy tests, and the errors it made were minor. While the average program in our comparison scored slightly over 70 percent, Dragon Premium was 92 percent accurate. Some voice-to-text programs have features to help the software become accustomed to your voice, and Dragon Premium is one of them. In addition to the voice profile you create when setting up the program, there is additional voice training. The profile establishes a basic familiarity with your intonation and distinguishing characteristics, but the voice training goes a step further, getting a more in-depth feel for your accent and the peculiarities of your speech. The voice training involves having you read text provided by the program into the microphone out loud while it records your voice. It takes that audio text and dissects it. After the initial training, the program grows more accustomed to your voice over time and thus increases in accuracy.
While this software dictates better than most of the programs we reviewed, you should keep in mind that simply saying sentences the way you speak them to other people is not going to give you a neatly written document. If you want to add punctuation, you need to tell the software to add it, or else your writing will look like a jumble of words with no breaks or stops. This took some getting used to, but once you’re accustomed to inserting commas, periods and question marks, it goes smoothly. If you forget to insert them during the voice dictation process, you can easily go back and insert them after the fact. You simply give a command like “insert comma after gelatinous,” and it goes in and inserts the comma for you. If you haven’t used voice recognition software before, practicing on the tutorials a few times gives you good practice, and you will grow accustomed to verbal composition.
Other corrections are also easy with Dragon Premium. If you have an advanced vocabulary or need to take notes that have specialized terminology, from something such as a medical class, and the software does not transcribe some words correctly, then you can go back and spell out the word. A dictation box shows what the software has written, and you can transfer that text to another part of your computer, such as your email or Microsoft Word.
Dragon Premium has more features than most of its competitors, so you can learn more advanced voice recognition tools than if you decided to get a low-ranked software system. However, some tools are automatic so they don’t require you to master anything.
One of these features is voice transcription. You can record yourself or someone else talking on your smartphone or a digital recorder, and then hook up the device to your computer or download an audio file, and the software will dictate the words being played. This often works better than trying to, for instance, transcribe a professor’s lecture as she gives it, using your laptop’s microphone. If you can produce a quality recording that you can transcribe, you will have better results. When it comes to transcribing, this software will do well with single-person recordings as opposed to interviews or discussions involving multiple voices with varying accents and intonation. Trying to decipher multiple voices on a recording would confuse the program. This is a task beyond what this type of software can currently do.
Dragon Premium has accent support for different dialects of English. You do not need to worry about trying to pronounce your words in a different way, because the software will be able to discern your speech. Also, as the program learns your particular speech patterns over time, it will increase in accuracy even more.
There is also a helpful status icon in the system that gives you access to the software’s main tools. It shows you whether or not the microphone is on and whether the software is in command mode or dictation mode.
You may need a little extra help upfront when you are setting up the program. The setup took a little more time than most software packages. This can be expected with such complex software, so we had to be patient. It’s nice to have technical support if you need it while setting the program up.
Getting help with the software is easy. The Nuance website is laid out neatly, with each type of software given its own page with technical information and tips about how to learn the program. There is also an online chat service that connects you to representatives from Nuance, all of whom seemed well informed and polite when we contacted them.