Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9

Over the years, Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice-recognition software has helped disabled users, as well as those in dictation-heavy fields. I looked at the shipping version of the US$200 Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred, which includes features for customizing some commands, as well as full support for most popular business programs.

While this version offers excellent accuracy in capturing verbal commands, current vendor Nuance's claim that NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred is 99 percent accurate untrained seems a reach, based on my testing.

To adjust the software to your voice, Nuance suggests reading training excerpts, a process that takes about 5 minutes. (I didn't read the excerpts, as I'm familiar with the software.) I tested the software by taking a 675-word business article from a general-interest Web site and dictating it into Microsoft Word.

Close, but not quite 99 percent

A new-user file I created in NaturallySpeaking 8 Professional gave me 94 percent accuracy, while NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred, untrained, produced 96 percent accuracy, not quite the 99 percent Nuance promises. Although the company says that accuracy varies by sound quality and by how a person talks, my PC has a top-grade sound card, and I enunciated when I spoke.

While 96 percent accuracy falls short of the claimed mark, it's still impressive. And consider this: The app put the text on the page at about 150 words per minute. I typed the same article at 71 words per minute--a blue-ribbon rate for typists, but slothful compared with dictation.

Headset support

The Vansonic HG-GEN headset that comes with both the Standard and Preferred editions of the software is not terribly difficult to adjust for good recognition results, but the hard plastic can squeeze the ear uncomfortably after a while.

The Preferred software adds official support for two Bluetooth headsets: the BlueParrott TalkPro B1000-GTX USB (about US$290) and the Xovox XCommunicator5 (about US$200). In contrast to version 8, it also supports more digital voice recorders, which you can use on the road and then plug into your PC at the office to transcribe. I didn't test these two features.

Mozilla products supported

Version 9 works famously with Microsoft Word and Excel, and it adds support for Mozilla's Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client. Regrettably, my experiences with Firefox and Thunderbird voice support were fraught with "now-it-works, now-it-doesn't" moments. And dictation accuracy relies partly on the context of the words, which you lose when giving your computer isolated commands like "click link."

In general, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred is best for writing or dictating. Only with practice--akin to learning a new language--is it satisfying to use for navigating your PC for a true hands-off experience. If you're a version 8 user, you hardly have a reason to upgrade. But if you've been curious about voice recognition, now would be a good time to try it out.

Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred

Newest version of venerable voice-recognition software provides excellent performance but doesn't quite live up to its maker's claims.

Price when reviewed: US$200

www.nuance.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Berger

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?