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Monday, November 22, 2010

Shall I get a Dragon?

As a child I wanted a dragon. I didn't recognize the danger of literary dragons and just thought they were really cool because they could fly and breathe fire. Then there was H.R. PufnStuf, who was a very friendly and helpful dragon. Does anyone even remember that show? I was very young and am surprised I do.

However, that isn't the type of dragon I am thinking about.

Dragon Speaking software has been around for a while. I tried it a long time ago, but it was fairly new and the difficulty I had with the program outweighed the benefits. However, as I said, that was years ago and I am sure a lot of things have changed since then, and maybe I should give it another try.

I had actually forgotten about this product until the other night when I watched an advertisement. It showed people dictating a Facebook status, Blog, and reports. I would love to sit back in my chair and dictate my story as it came to me. I can always fix it later. The first draft always involves a ton of edits anyway so why not save my fingers in the process. So, off to the website I went to check it out further. There is more than one choice: Dragon Home, Dragon Premium, Dragon Professional, Dragon Legal, Dragon Software Bundles, and Dragon for the Mac. If I do end up purchasing this product, I think the Dragon Home would be all I need.
But, in order to be fair, I did a search for Voice Activated Software. Surely Dragon isn’t the only product available. In fact, there are two. If there are others, I would love to hear about them so that I can be fully advised when making my decision.

One is called Talk It Type It 2 i,n Standard, Deluxe and Ultra, utilizing Microsoft 6.1 speech software. First, I don’t know what version of speech software Microsoft is on right now so that meant little to me. What I did notice is that the purchase price is much lower than Dragon Home, which made me want to check it out further. There may be a newer version and I just didn’t find it, but the one I did read about works with Windows 98/Me/XP – not Vista. As I have Windows 7, I am not sure it is going to work for me either. If anyone is using this software, please let me know if there is a version for Windows 7.

The most surprising was I already have a Speech Recognition program. Talk about a “duh” moment. Maybe I should explore everything that my computer does have to offer someday. Anyway, Windows Speech Recognition comes with Windows Vista and Windows 7 standard on most computers. Thrilled at the idea of dictating my WIP and not spending anything had me scurrying to find this program. I also had to borrow my son’s headset with microphone, promising to return it when I am done.

With the headset plugged in I read and talked my way through the tutorial and when finished, I was pretty confident that I could do this. The next step, I opened the chapter I am currently working on and began dictating. There were a few bumps in that it didn’t recognize some of the things I said. I am willing to admit that much of this could be user error and perhaps a gentle reminder that I need to enunciate a bit better. Still, I am pretty sure I will get the hang of it and need to correct less and less words.

What did bother me is that it types the text into a small window and when you like what it says, you command the program to insert. On more than one occasion I dictated too much and not all of my dictation was transferred. I am not sure I am going to like dictating a sentence or two and then command “insert” and continue on with the next sentence. It really interrupted my flow and I probably could have typed my dictation much quicker.

So, now I am back to wondering if I should get a Dragon. In the commercial it looks like what you dictate is typed directly into the document and not a window that needed the command of insert to continue. And, it looks great in the television advertisement (but doesn’t everything). I would hate to spend the money to find out it is no better than the program that came free with my computer.

Have you or do you use voice recognition software? If so, which product and how has it worked out? I am anxious to hear everyone’s opinion as I decide if I am going to buy myself an early Christmas present.


  1. I've never used voice recognition software. One thing I've worried about is whether my Texas accent would affect how it recognizes words. If you do decide to give Dragon a try, let us know how it works out for you! It could be a great way of getting a rough draft written.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Amy. I've never used voice recognition software, but you've given me some things to think about.

  3. I just saw this advertised on TV and was wondering about it. Interesting! :O)

  4. I've seen this used in the medical field with dictation of medical records and radiology stuff. It's interesting, and it seems like half the people love it and half the people don't.

  5. Oh, my, I'd not heard of these programs, other than the Windows one. Thanks for your post. I think Jean Wise and Rhonda Schrock both use types of these programs--ask them!


  6. I investigated this for my mother who has very poor vision; however she insisted that she did not use a computer enough to use it. My thoughts were that if she had it she could enjoy using the computer for something other than playing Bejeweled and Bookworm. I'll be interested to hear why you decide and how you like it.