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Dragon dictate for Mac version 2.0 review

Updated on July 03, 2011

Dragon Dictate for Mac

I recently decided to get serious about producing written content again. I'm not sure how this will manifest in my life. However, I decided to get Dragon Dictate for Mac version 2.0 so that I can maximize my production.

I have had speech to text software in the past, iListen, and some other $100 software designed for the Mac. I purchased and used these in the early 2000's. I never really got serious about utilizing them to their fullest extent. I did see the potential, and so now that I've gotten serious about writing I decided to get the latest and greatest updated version: Dragon Dictate for Mac version 2.0. I am using it to write this article now. The reviews that I read said that its accuracy and the time needed for the software to familiarize itself with your voice and speaking patterns have improved. The last time that I used speech to text software was fully five years ago, and while I do not remember exactly how well they performed then, I can certainly say that version 2.0 of Dragon Dictate for Mac works better than its predecessors did. It is still not perfect.

Demonstration of Accuracy

In this capsule I will use Webster's seventh new collegiate dictionary as a means to demonstrate the accuracy of the software. I've opened the dictionary to a random page, and placed my finger next to one of entries on it. I will now read the entry into the software, without any corrections, and then I will read the entry again with any corrections that are needed.

Jasmine 1 small letter a: any of numerous often climbing shrubs (Genesis jazz minium) of the olive family but usually have extremely fragrant flowers space (2): a tall climbing half–Evergreen Asiatic shrub (J. Of the snail) with fragrant white flowers which perfume is extracted B: any of numerous other plants having sweet–said flowers; especially: YELLOW Jessamine 2 2: a light yellow

Jasmine 1 a: any of numerous often climbing shrubs (genus Jasminum) of the olive family that usually have extremely fragrant flowers (2): a tall climbing half–evergreen Asiatic shrub (J. officinale) with fragrant white flowers from which a perfume is extracted b: any of numerous other plants having sweet–scented flowers; especially: YELLOW JESSAMINE 2 2: a light yellow

As you can see, there are a number of problems and differences between the two paragraphs above. Part of this is the fact that the software is new to me. However, the software only claims to have about a 99% accuracy rate or so. This is complicated when there are commands that I give the software which I am unable to intuitively undo. I told the software to "Bold That" after I wrote the word Jasmine. It proceeded to, as you can see, bold most of that entire paragraph. This highlights one of the problems with the software; you have to watch the screen to see what it is that the computer thinks you have said. If you don't correct your mistakes as you go along, it may be very hard to remember what it is that you said later on; or as in the paragraph above, it may just be very confusing why it turned out the way it did, and how to fix the mistake. As a further example of that, because I started to use capital letters in the way that a dictionary does, in the examples above, the software now thinks that after every period there should be another letter. It is now up to the letter F. I will just let it stay hanging there so you can see what I mean. F

Crucial Time
Crucial Time

Crucial Time is a cross-generational mystery story, and is fun to read.

 

Another Example

Okay, that may not be the fairest example, using a dictionary. After all, we don't use the kind of paragraph construction you find in the dictionary when we're talking normally. So, I will get a book from my bookshelf, then open it to a random page, and read a paragraph from it. The book I've chosen is a mystery by Elspeth Benton, called crucial time.

You can read a review of the book here. (Please note I am now using TextEdit because I see it is faster this way.)

Hannah put on her walking shoes, dock downstairs, and told and in the fours room where she might be reached and that she expected to be back by 530, half an hour before closing time. Then she walked briskly South on campus, awakened amount spent towards Alexis is building. Students assumed by on their bikes like bats in the dusk. Pedestrians need to keep their ears attuned for the sudden or other tires and be certain not to move to the left or folder in the course. Several accidents involving pedestrians and bikers had recently taken place, though none that she knew of had resulted in more than minor injuries.

Now I will read the same paragraph, and make all the necessary corrections to it, so that you can see the difference.

Hannah put on her walking shoes, ducked downstairs, and told Anne in the fours room where she might be reached and that she expected to be back by five thirty, half an hour before closing time. Then she walked briskly south on campus, away from the mountains toward Alexis' building. Students zoomed by on their bikes like bats in the dusk. Pedestrians needed to keep their ears attuned for the sudden whir of their tires and be certain not to move to the left or falter in their course. Several accidents involving pedestrians and bikers had recently taken place, though none that she knew of had resulted in more than minor injuries.

There are two things to notice about the differences in these two paragraphs. The first is that there are about eight or 10 errors in the software's understanding. The second thing is that the meaning is lost or changed because of these errors. It essential that if you use this software you have some way of knowing exactly what it was that you said if you say more than a few–five or 10–words at a time. If you say more than that, you will probably forget exactly what it is that you said, and by the time that the computer has put it up on the screen (in its distorted and misunderstood way) you will be at a loss; lost the cadence, of your voice, and the meaning of your words: lost in a sea of misunderstanding by the software.

So why would I use it?

I type about 25 words per minute. I think that if I use Dragon Dictate properly that I can increase my output. If I talk in staccato bursts then I can monitor my errors as I am talking. This is quicker than my typing speed. From time to time, I go back and correct a word here and there. It is easier on my hands, and allows me to more easily follow my train of thought. It also lets me use words in my vocabulary that I might be hesitant to use while writing. That is because I'm not a very good speller. An example of a couple of words, for me, are xylophone and chartreuse. These are words that I know the meaning of, but am not able to spell. Despite the fact that the wordprocessing program that I use when typing has spellcheck built into it I'm still reluctant to use some words that I know what they mean but don't know how to spell them.

Another reason that I am drawn to use Dragon Dictate is that it is fun to use. I like to talk. And it is fun to see the words magically appear on the screen. I believe that as I create more and more text with it, I will get better and faster at using it. I have two ideas to this end. The first is to use a very rough skeleton, maybe 10 or 12 words that I write down on a piece of paper, that form the basis for a hub, or an essay. If I am familiar with a topic I can speak about it eloquently. A few words or 3 x 5 cards can get me through a presentation. In addition to this idea, I am thinking about using a tape recorder in conjunction with the software program Dragon Dictate version 2.0 for Mac.

Final thoughts.

Dragon Dictate is fun and easy to use. I feel that I can use all of my vocabulary. It is more restful to talk than it is to type. This is the second time I've used it, recently. Yesterday, I wrote about a DVD players. Before that, it'd been over five years since I had used speech to text software. As I use it more and more, I believe that I will be able to produce significantly more than I can by typing. It may take some experimentation and tweaking; I am certain that it gets words on the page much much faster, and with much more accuracy, than I am able to do by typing. So once I work out the kinks, I think it will make a marked difference in my output. It will never have 100% accuracy. And that's okay, my rough estimate is that I have created this hub in approximately half the time that it would have taken me otherwise. If I was a faster typist, say I was typing 75 or hundred words per minute, I might still find it useful. It would mean that as I was creating the text by talking, I would go back and make the corrections just as I am now, only faster. I can do a test, to determine exactly how many words it is able to produce in a minute. To do that, I have to look at the clock and not look at what I am writing. By dint of that fact, I am likely to make a bunch of errors, that is to say, the software will make the errors, not me. When I'm done with a minute, I can go back and count the number of words that the software program has created. That way I will be able to give an estimate of the number of words per minute that the software is able to produce. Well, I started my test with the words “I can do a test”, and it ended with the word “produce”. That is 109 words per minute. A very respectable speed, and if there were any errors that the software made, I am unaware of them when I read it back.

I hope that this has given you a good overview of the product. Please let me know if you have any experience with it or questions for me.

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    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I voted this up because i think it is useful for you to give us a review of software. I never thought about using speech to text software for my writing. I can imagine it is useful for a lot of situations.

    • Robert Hughes profile image
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      Robert Hughes 5 years ago

      Thanks, truthfornow. I wanted to give an unbiased review of the product. Glad you read it.

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