In our previous dictation software post, we explained the benefits of dictation and showcased Windows 7 dictation capabilities. All you really need is a microphone and Windows 7, and you can start dictating documents very easily. We also touched on the leader of all dictation software, Dragon Naturally Speaking. Dragon is the clear leader because it learns over time. It learns your accent, and it learns certain characteristics when processing your dictation in general use. We find that dictation saves firms money on dictation services that would otherwise be unused. It also saves on admin transcription time, leaving time for other tasks. We have even heard of attorneys with carpal tunnel syndrome utilizing Dragon’s dictation features to produce documents two times faster than if they were typed by hand. With this said, Dragon will increase your productivity substantially.
The biggest issue that we see with Dragon is that it takes time to set up. This software expects you to spend time practicing with it in order to master dictation recognition. When you load the software, you have access to onscreen tips and documentation that help you through the entire mastering process. Even though there are very helpful features implemented within the software, there is still a major learning curve. The basic idea behind this software is that if you invest the time and energy, you will be handsomely rewarded with a fully functional dictation setup and increased productivity. You will even be able to fully control your PC with voice commands, not only dictate documents.
Go for the Premium version that comes with the microphone, it’s about $120 – $170 right now as I write this article. Your looking for Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 Premium. They do offer a Legal version for around $600 but the firms that we work with all buy the premium version as the functionality is sufficient. Below we have a graphic comparing the different versions, it is for Dragon 11 but it still applies for Dragon 12.
The Set Up
Installing the software takes only 10 minutes, but the advanced setup feature takes about 45 minutes in total. You want to do the advanced setup because it gives Dragon a chance to acclimate itself with your voice, making learning easier over time. A very cool feature that helps it learn the way you talk is to let it scan your documents and sent email. The advanced setup process entails reading on-screen text which explains how voice recognition works. It’s informative and helps Dragon learn.
I have to say that above all, Dragon is very intuitive. The tutorial that’s offered during setup gives you an excellent walk through of how to use some of the basic commands. The simple interface consists of a gray toolbar at the top of your screen that shows microphone activity. The toolbar also offers menu options in case you forget audible commands. Due to the fact that this toolbar is up all the time, you can essentially control every application on your PC with your voice may it be web browser, word documents or billing software. Right out of the box, Dragon is ready to run. When dictating a document, the voice recognition accuracy is above 90 percent. The key is to enunciation clearly, but don’t change the way you speak, make Dragon learn, this pays off in the long run. Adding punctuation is really easy too. To insert a period you can say, “full stop,” or, “period” at the end of a sentence. To remove recently typed text you can say, “scratch that,” or, “delete that.” Once you get the hang of all the commands, you won’t know how you worked otherwise.
Voice commands are an issue because you may not use them as frequently. With Dragon, the commands you use less frequently are the commands that you’re less likely to remember. You can utilize the Quick Reference Card that comes inside the packaging of the software for a quick refresher. It offers sample commands for different situations, may it be web browser navigation to navigating through outlook. You have to make a decision whether you want to use Dragon for ONLY dictation or full computer control. It’s the difference between learning just the dictation commands and learning all the commands.
While you may not choose to learn all the commands, you’ll learn the basic commands within Word & Outlook most definitely. You’ll feel comfortable with basic editing in Microsoft Word. Within Word, you can moving the cursor around the screen with easy to learn commands such as, “go to end of line,” “go to start of line,” and “new paragraph.” You can say, “select period,” for instance, and Dragon will highlight every period on the visible portion of the document, annotating each one with a number. Say the number of the period you want to change, and it’s instantly highlighted and ready for your next command. While the learning curve is high, you should hang in there, it will definitely pay off.
Dragon Final Thoughts
Dragon is fast, accurate & intuitive. If you give it the proper time and energy it will transform the way you produce documents, interact with your PC, and work as a whole. Just remember, the more time you spend having it learn your voice, the more accurate it will be. If you never do the drills on setup, you’ll have more errors as you dictate. It will take you a few hours to get it where you want it with high accuracy and low recognition errors, but it does pay off. You may ask why more people don’t use Dragon if it’s so good. The reason is because most people don’t have the patience and time to invest to ever benefit from this software. You get what pay for with Dragon. There’s a rarity when using Dragon, it’s the only software that gets more fun to use as you master it, just like playing an instrument. If you know for a fact that you’ll never be able to sit with this software and have it learn your voice, then forget dictation software altogether, this is not for you. But if you have the time and patience, and fully understand this investment, I say go for it.
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