I have written a review of Dragon Dictate version 4 here. For those of you who already have Dragon Dictate version 3, the big question is ‘Should I pay for the upgrade?’
I don’t think it’s worth the upgrade and here’s why.
STOP PRESS: Time to upgrade! Version 5 was released today (15 months later). Read more about it here.
The accuracy of Dragon Dictate version 3 was pretty spectacular. In fact I had decided that most of the mistakes that I made were not to do with the software, but rather to do with my poor pronunciation so I decided not to upgrade to Dragon dictate version 4. But I approached Nuance and they kindly gave me a free copy to review. I have written a review here.
When I first used version 4 I was pretty excited because my first impressions were that it was even better than version 3, especially when I got lazy and didn’t speak clearly. So I started to write a review. But five weeks on I’m not feeling the difference between version 4 and version 3 as much as I did when I started. In fact I went back and looked at my review of version 2 here, and the results are pretty good! In other words, I think the excitement of a new version focused me on speaking more clearly again and gave me better recognition, but after five weeks I am starting to get lazy and it is making more mistakes.
Even though it imported my previous speech profiles, it still wanted me to do the initial training again.
And it is still having problems with Australia. Have a look at this video!
Differences in the software
The biggest feature that Nuance are pushing with version 4 is the transcribe function. The advertising says “Great for transcribing college lectures, interviews, recorded notes.” Forget it! I downloaded a fairly clearly recorded lecture from the Internet and transcribed it and it was complete garbage. It was the kind of stuff speech recognition software throughout 10 years ago when it got confused.
It did work very well transcribing my voice, after I spoke directly into the Dragon transcribe application on the iPhone. That could come in very handy.
Nuance also claim more control of your computer, especially within Gmail and Safari. I only mention this because if this is something that you wanted it might be worth upgrading but personally I couldn’t remember all the commands so it’s a complete waste of time on me.
Nuance claim better speed and better accuracy with “Best Match V technology.” This may be the case but I found version 3 to be pretty fast and pretty good. I find evaluating it highly subjective, it seems to depend more on how clearly I talk and how tired I am. It has deleted my version 3 so I can’t go back and do a side-by-side comparison. And I am comparing a brand-new product with something that I have been training for a year. The real comparison will be to see how good version 4 is going in a years time.
A very frustrating difference is that when you make a mistake, and you say “correct that”, and then you say “choose 2”, rather than putting the cursor back to the end of the sentence, version 4 keeps the cursor where it was. So you need to say “go to end”.
I’ve been an early adopter of speech recognition all along. I bought a PC computer just to use Dragon Naturally Speaking. I copied the files onto a USB thumb drive and then transferred them to my Mac for editing. I used iListen. I used ViaVoice. I used Macspeech Dictate. And I have upgraded to every version of Dragon Dictate since it has been relaxed. I’ve spent close to $1000 on speech recognition software over the years. So you could call me pretty fanatical.
For the first time ever I’m suggesting you hold off until the next upgrade, especially with a price tag of $149. The initial versions of Macspeech Dictate were so badly we were almost forced to upgrade to the new versions. I think Dragon dictate version 3 was pretty good. Dragon dictate version for to me doesn’t seem to be a new product, it seems to be a minor upgrade. Maybe if the upgrade was $20 or $30 it might be reasonable.
I would say if you are absolutely hanging out for the transcribe function, or the ability to control Gmail via Safari, this might be the upgrade you were waiting for.
But if you are just a general user, dictating into emails and pages documents, you might be better saving your $149 and waiting for the next upgrade.
In fact if you are struggling with the recognition quality, and you are using the out of the box microphone, you might be better off investing that $149 in a better microphone. Personally I use a Shure wh20 It is an old headset microphone that I use for puppet shows. It has fantastic quality, is very comfortable, and has good noise rejection. It doesn’t have bluetooth or USB so I plug it into my Allen and Heath ZED USB mixer.
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