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Voice Recognition Software

Rita Risser

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Do you use voice to text (dictation) software? Which type do you prefer? The two products available are Via Voice and Dragon.

-- Ron Jasnioski

I tried both and returned both. Speech recognition is a fascinating and fairly accurate technology. But correcting the inaccuracies takes almost as much time as typing the text. Another problem that is less often discussed is the challenge of thinking and speaking written text. Speech recognition types everything you say so you need to collect your thoughts before you talk, and that also slows down the process. Both Dragon and ViaVoice tech support expected me to get better accuracy so it may be my laptop isn't set up to work with speech recognition software. But they did say laptops often have poor sound cards.

-- Nanette Miner

I use Dragon Naturally Speaking (the $99 edition) and it is the BEST investment in technology I've ever made. I write articles so much more easily now! The "training" is really simple and within about 10 uses this software is totally up-to-speed on my diction and RARELY makes mistakes. I highly endorse it. (Note: to speed the comprehension, you have the option of uploading typical documents so that it immediately recognizes words -- this works wonders since I use a lot of trade-industry buzzwords. I uploaded a lot of articles I've written in the past and that speeded things along greatly).

-- Mike Podolinsky

I worked with Via Voice for 6 hours. It takes about that long to get it running near the claimed 95% accuracy.

Not really intuitive.

If you are a slow typist -- 20 WPM -- it would be a fantastic savings. I type 40 WPM and found that by the time I make all the corrections, I could have typed it as fast or faster myself.

I don't like wearing headsets. If someone does for the phone, hey, no difference.

Just sold my copy for $3 to a used bookstore. :-)

-- Linda Brakeall

I've used Dragon off and on for five years. The newer versions are amazingly accurate if you take the time upfront to thoroughly train them (2 hours of reading their text into your computer) and use a good quality mic.

Dragon's accuracy is 95% or better.

-- Rosemarie Rossetti

I have been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Version 7, the professional version, for about two months. There is a long learning period for me. I hired a trainer in my office to coach me. I have had about 8 hours of personal training and use the software about a few hours a week to get myself used to it. I need to spend more time to get good at it. My assistant has been using it for months and is very good. It works with Word, ACT, and AOL. Some tweaking is needed to develop commands. I can put words on a page three times faster than when I type. Looking to get more accurate now.

-- Lilly Walters

The three main drawbacks of voice activation software are:

  • the time it takes to program
  • the noise to others working around you
  • the strain on the voice

One person told me after using voice recognition for 6 weeks, she lost her voice and it's never been quite right since. It turned out to be a bigger problem than it was a help.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions