Today, I review Dragon Dictate dictation software from Nuance including the Koss CS95 Speech Recogniton Headset
Not to spoil the review, but after using this dictation software, I can't imagine not having it and highly recommend it.
From a basic description, Dragon Dictate is translation software allowing you to dictate any type of message by simply speaking into a headset.
Before going further, I'd like to give a little background into some of my thinking here.
I've heard about dictation machines, dictation software, and voice activated software for speaking and dictating notes in the past. And as much as they all sound really great to start, they all seem to end up never doing quite what you expected. And when I first heard about Dragon Dictate, that's exactly what I thought was going to happen.
I first heard about Dragon Dictate, from a friend who is a completely non-Tech computer person. During a recent conversation, he began to tell me about a piece of software he saw at the computer store.
Based on my friend's recommendation and excellent review from top computer sources, I decided to dive-in and purchase Dragon Dictate from Amazon.com.
By the way, you can buy the software through the Nuance website, but I found a bundled deal -- software plus the noise canceling headset at Amazon.com.
When the package arrived, I was eager to try out the new dictation software.
I glanced at the QuickStart guide, inserted this DVD, and began to complete the setup in order to use the software headset.
Setup is a Breeze
Setting up and using Dragon was a breeze.
Put the DVD into the computer, plug in the Koss CS95 Speech Recogniton Headset and follow a few prompts. Done.
Dragon dictation software takes you through a short training session so the software can more accurately recognize your voice, cadence, and inflections.
What I found especially intriguing about the training session, was that the story they have you read -- which is actually an explanation about the software, its evolution, and how it works. Essentially, the software is learning how you speak while you learn how it works.
Dragon Dictate learns your voice. You learn how to speak more clearly and also learn how speech recognition software works. Pretty smart thinking.
Training was Fast
Training took five or six minutes at most. Which was a really nice surprise.
With a training session was done I immediately started using it. And I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was I amazed by its accuracy, but I was also shockingly amazed at the abundantly clear lack of elegance there was in my speaking versus my writing. Which is something to think about -- dictating is a learned skill.
In the days of yore, it was common practice for businessmen to dictate letters to their secretaries. So the more they dictated, the better they became at articulating what they wanted to say without much forethought.
I find when I'm writing with fingers on the keyboard, I tend to write slower because I'm thinking through what I want to say. In essence, I'm composing and editing in my head as I write -- which makes my writing more fluid.
With dictation, I initially found myself dictating in a train-of-thought mode. Speaking as the words came to me without giving much thought about the exact structure of what I wanted to say. Or how I wanted to say it.
Once I realized this difference, I simply slowed down and thought more about what I was going to say before I said it.
Tripled My Productivity
That said, even with slowing down my dictation speed, I have realistically tripled to quadrupled at productivity. Everything from e-mails, short notes, and even more so with long articles, Dragon Dictate has been an amazing piece of software.
But there's more to Dragon Dictate than just dictation.
Voice Control Your Computer
Another great feature about the software is that it allows you to control your computer through voice commands. From opening just about any application, copy and paste, open window, close window, restart computer, save document, etc.
Now that's what I call a useful piece of software and a real time saver.
The only drawback I can think of -- if you can even call it that -- is that although Dragon Dictate is an accurate at taking down exactly what you're speaking, you'll still find yourself wanting to go back and edit. Whether to erase in few words, or editing and replacing entire sentences or paragraphs.
It's not that Dragon dictate doesn't provide you with the commands to edit via Voice, the drawback is training yourself to learn the commands so you can do it accurately. Initially, I found myself making quite a mess of things because I didn't quite have the commands down.
Overall, I give Dragon Dictate 4.9 out of 5 stars.
The only reason I don't give it a full five stars, is because I wish it had more commands. Meaning, I just want it to do everything in my life by voice now. Turn on the TV, make dinner, take out the trash, fetch me a beer... I think you get what I mean.
Okay, maybe that's being a little unfair. But that's how much I've learned to really enjoy and rely on using the software. Even with editing, or having to go back and edit specific things in the traditional sense of typing. My productivity has increased. It has also done incredible job of reducing procrastination.
Prior to Dragon I would have piles of research on my desk. Research for articles I wanted to write, but I just didn't have the time to devote. Now with Dragon Dictate, when I find an article or something else that inspires me to write an article, I simply put on the headset and start talking.
Within 10 minutes I'm done.
I don't think Dragon Dictate is for everyone. Simply because if you don't do a lot of writing, it just becomes a fancy Toy to show your friends. And for around $250, you're going to want more than a cool toy.
But for those of us who write, and write a lot -- specially bloggers who write every day -- Dragon Dictate can be a godsend.
So even if you're a hunt and peck key blaster that types up to 20-30 words per minute, it is no match for Dragon Dictate as it can dictate words as fast as you can talk.
You can find out more information about Dragon Dictate on their website.
One last thing you do need to know is that along with the software you will need a noise reduction headset in order to integrate with the software. You can order a headset through the company website but I got the same software plus the headset from Amazon for the same price (plus free shipping).
And by the way, if you were wondering, this entire software review was created using Dragon Dictate.
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