Thu, 15 Sep 2011 Dragon Dictate 2.5 review
Speech recognition for the Mac gets even better
- Manufacturer: Nuance
- Pros: Accurate and effective; fairly quick to set up; unique product
- Cons: Relatively expensive; hard to remember all the commands; some performance problems
- Price: £179.99
- Star rating:
Dragon Dictate 2.5 is the Lion-compatible version of Nuance’s industry-leading speech recognition solution for Mac users. The application is a godsend for those who need an accessible solution to continue working with their Mac; but it’s helpful for any user. Spoken message tweets or voice-controlled search, are just two examples of its usefulness for anyone.
This technology has come a long way, but getting started using it still takes time. You must read a story into the supplied microphone (or your iPhone if you use the free Dragon Remote Microphone for iPhone app). The software analyses the way you read, while encouraging you to develop a neutral reading voice. It also trains you in the need to insert commands: for example, COMMA, EMAIL ROGER, FULL STOP.
After you finish the training you can use Dictate to control Pages, Mail (in OS X Lion), iChat, Keynote, Microsoft Office 2011 and more. The software continues to learn about how you express yourself as you continue using it. How effective is it? As long as you remain consistent in your diction, the only real challenge is to remember the various commands (for app, Mac, and dictation control) and to keep your mouth shut unless you want the software to write down what you say.
There are some bugs. When using an Undo command, after accidentally deleting text in a Mariner Write document, it was strange to see the software slowly rewrite the entire thing, one word at a time. Sometimes the application of word-formatting commands (such as BOLD) seemed to perform inconsistently.
Dragon offers a handy guide to available commands within this translucent menu while you dictate
We experienced some performance lag, but this transpired to be Safari’s fault, hogging up available memory. Using Activity Viewer while working with Dictate should help you detect such problems. The only other issue to consider with this application is that many people think differently when they speak their thoughts than when they write them down.