Product Reviews
April/2000

 
Dragon Naturally Speaking Box "Dragon Naturally Speaking"

Reviewed By:
Trevelyan Beard
Member, The Personal Computer Club of Toronto.

This is a remarkable program. It lets you talk to your computer instead of typing. It doesn't do this with 100 percent accuracy straight after taking it out of the box; you need to spend time training the program to suit your needs.

When dictating, the program is incredibly consistent in using words that it has been trained to know. It never makes a mistake on these and it never spells a word incorrectly, and this after but a few hours of training.

I can now dictate into the microphone, talking at normal speed and expect the results to be at least 100 percent good. This after only three hours of training, dictating into the mic and then correcting errors and dictating again. Dragon also allows me to give commands which result in various computer functions being undertaken, like positioning the cursor, selecting, undoing, and so on.

An exciting capability of dragon allows me to dictate into a tape recorder and later play this back and see the results come up onto the screen in perfect condition.

Dragon comes with two thin manuals, one disk, and a microphone headset. It installs without any trouble and it gives me a variety of ways in which to train the program. Anyone who is willing to spend a few hours endlessly dictating and correcting in order to build capability into Dragon will be rewarded by having the most powerful friend imaginable.

Let's pause for a moment. If I now go back to the beginning of this article and highlight the errors, then type in the corrections, I will have given the program enough training by doing this that I can dictate again and expect almost no errors this time. If I again highlight errors and repeat the process, the program approaches perfection. A very exciting feature of Dragon is that at any time I can place the cursor into the text, press replay and here my voice speaking the words at normal speed. I found this quite eerie. So there you have it. You train the program over and over by reading and more reading and correcting a more correcting and very soon you get to see perfection. It doesn't really matter if the results are slightly short of perfect as corrections are very easy to perform. This article was written entirely by dictation using Dragon.

There are two versions, standard at $169 Can. and Preferred at $219 Can.

System requirements
200 MHz processor. Windows 98, 98 or NT. 48 MB RAM. These are absolute minimums.
More than one person can use the program, it being necessary to set up a different set of User Speech files for each person.
Will run in most word processors. If you find otherwise then work in WordPad and copy and paste into your word processor. It works wothout the slightest problem.

Trevelyan Beard,
Member, The Personal Computer Club of Toronto