by Matthew Harris on May 31, 2006 in Software
There are literally tons of productivity software out there to be had. Some are applications that allow you to do specific things such as create documents, graphs, spreadsheets and do image editing. Others are used to improve your productivity by allowing you to have better control over the software you are using. Some increase the abilities of the software and some increase the abilities of the user. Today we’re looking at one that does the latter.
Before I do I should point something out, when you’re first setting up Dragon it will ask if you want it to go through and read your email and any documents you have stored on your PC. I assume that it adds the words found to the user spelling database because in the review I did Dragon knew the proper spelling for the word that gave me so much trouble, Swiftech. I’ll now switch over to Dragon and see if I can replicate the issue by reading a bit of the review and taking a few screenshots of what happens.
“In computing we have many cooling options. Air, water and a phase change being the most common in the enthusiast arena. Today will be looking at a top grade kit from Swiftech and comparing it to a similarly configured kid from the competition and see if there’s a clear winner or loser.”
Now looking at that quote you see the word Swiftech, the word Swiftech gave me a lot of problems writing the Swiftech review. Unfortunately it appears that Dragon has managed to learn to properly write the word Swiftech. I say unfortunately because during the writing of the Swiftech review Dragon was apt to spell Swiftech as swift Tech or Swiss steak and Swiss Tech. It was actually a crap shoot as to what I was going to be greeted with whatever I did say the word Swiftech.
Oddly enough the very first time that I said the word Swiftech Dragon caught it and spell it correctly. The reality of it is though, that I spent so much time going back and correcting Dragon’s mistake that it actually took longer to write the review using Dragon than it did to write the review typing.
I do not know how much of this was due to the frustration factor and how much was actually Dragon’s fault. I do know that after that limited usage of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Preferred that I was so burnt out on the program I haven’t used it since until today. I personally feel that if you’ve got the time to devote to working with Dragon and training Dragon it could actually be quite useful for you. Unfortunately though if you’re not a very patient person you’re not going to get the benefit from using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Preferred because you’re going to become very frustrated with the program and completely discount it. That’s what happened with me.
So, what’s this add up to? I’m glad you asked.
- Hands off control of your PC IF you can stand the quirks of the program
- Multiple User compatibility
- Allows for importing dictation from other sources
- High frustration factor
- Requires a lot of “training” to be useful
- Convoluted system of repairing mistakes
When it’s all said and done Dragon NaturallySpeaking is not a piece of software that’s going to be of major benefit to the casual user. The system for repairing mistakes is quite frustrating. Requiring you to tell Dragon to “Select word(s)” and then either choose the word(s) from a drop-down menu and telling it to “Choose 1-5″ or “Spell that” then to avoid further mistakes “Train” which involves you saying the word you wanted it to put down then the word it actually put down because just simply correcting the word frome the drop-down menu won’t preclude further mistakes.
In fact I became so burnt out on this after nearly eight hours of fighting with correcting one simple word (that Dragon had actually gotten correct the first time I said it) that I haven’t had the inclination to use it further. On the other hand, if you’re in a corporate environment and you are being paid to do a lot of typing. whether it be data entry or report writing or what have you and you’d be paid to sit down and dedicate a week (40 hours) to training every aspect of Dragon NaturallySpeaking to suit your particular speaking style and to hit all the words you use on a daily basis, Dragon would be a dream come true. I guess this all boils down to what you are going to use the software for.
That said it’s time to render the final verdict. I’d be remiss if I gave Dragon a low score since it does not suit my needs because in this game I deal with a lot of product nomenclature that isn’t part of the English language but to give it an inflated score would be a dis-service to my readers since many of you use the same product nomenclature in your daily lives (being the hardcore geeks that you all are). Taking that into consideration I’m awarding Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Preferred a 7/10 and the suggestion that if you are in fact interested in voice control of your PC that you head to Nuance’s site and look at the list I linked to earlier.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Preferred might not be what you need, Standard might be a bit more to your liking.
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