I requested a key for Dragon Professional Individual V15 because many of you thought would be really interesting to see if it was indeed quicker to talk than to type.
I too thought it would be interesting as an experiment and so that you, dear reader, can decide whether it is the right thing for you, I will spend the next week using Dragon instead of my Keyboard.
Dragon Professional Individual v15 makes some pretty bold claims about itself and its these I will be using as a measuring stick.
- Faster and more accurate than ever, with next-generation speech recognition technology that continues to adapt to your voice even while you’re dictating
- Create, format and edit by voice quickly and efficiently in the latest applications
- Easily create custom words such as proper names and specific industry terminology
- Create custom voice commands to insert frequently-used text and graphics
- Use a Nuance-approved digital recorder to capture thoughts on the go for later automatic transcription
- Share dictation and sync customisations with the Dragon Anywhere mobile solution to continue documentation work anywhere you go
- Work easily on popular form factors such as portable touchscreen PCs
- Command and control your computer by voice in ergonomic, hands-free comfort
- Even easier to get started with contextual guidance tailored to your usage
The first thing to consider is that Dragon Professional Individual v15 isn’t marketed at consumer level so it isn’t “cheap” for an individual who wants to use it for emails, for this you should look at Dragon Home.
In terms of business software, however, its a bargain, in fact, this version costs £349 and actually, if you have Honey browser extension installed there were even offers and discounts to be found at the time of writing.
Firstly, I decided to look around at the competition and I did this before even trying Dragon, of course, my first port of call was the dictate function in word. No prizes for guessing that it wasn’t very accurate despite the fact that I’d spent several hours training my computer to understand my voice and accent better in the software provided with Windows.
Next up was Google Docs and a browser extension called “Speech”. The first problem here was that I decided to stop using Google Chrome a long time ago and had switched to Vivaldi as my daily driver. I prefer Vivaldi as I think Google knows enough about me already and my strange Internet habits, actually, using my phone they not only know what I am looking at but where I spend my spare time.
It’s not that Vivaldi, Opera, Firefox and Edge can’t access Google Docs but for some reason, the only browser I could get the voice function to work with correctly was Google Chrome.
Once I had everything working I found it to be surprisingly good however, good is only relative so surprisingly good was actually inaccurate and mediocre. The issue is that I had nothing to compare it to other than Dictate in Word and its clear why you may consider these consumer-grade products. After experiencing the Dragon speech recognition engine, I would be more inclined to call them gimmicks.
I can say for sure that I will not be switching to either of those solutions over typing. I touch type at around 40 to 50 words per minute which is pretty quick. It means I can write a review reasonably quickly and effortlessly and hopefully only make a few mistakes. Switching to voice-only was going be very difficult for me, particularly at my age (46) and my waning cognitive ability.
So I have set myself a challenge, I have decided to use Dragon Professional Individual v15 exclusively to write with for the next week. On average I write 90,000 words per week, according to Grammarly, but as I had a fall recently and had been away from the office for some time I had a lot of catching up to do, this is going to be fun! (NB, Dragon does not understand or differentiate sarcastic tones!)
I thought the best way to start would be to journal my week. Here then are my daily thoughts.
After going through the process of setting up Dragon on my system I sat down for an hour to play with the software and find out what it and I could do together. It turns out that Dragon can do a lot more than just write what you say.
You can use it to open programs on your system, take notes, read documents back to you and if I had the Nuance Dragon voice recorder I can even make notes when I was out and about and have it transcribed when I get home. This would be ideal for me for reporting at an event like E3 if I could walk well enough to go there that is. For you, this could be a letter you want drafting whilst you are at home or in the car, a great idea for a story you’ve just had or even an interview with a potential whistleblower from within the NSA maybe.
However, the main thing that struck me was how well Dragon took my West Country accent and turned my speech into text accurately and quickly. I’m nowhere near 40 words per minute right now but it feels like that’s more with how I am thinking as opposed to Dragon not being able to keep up.
You see I’ve been typing my text for over 20 years, and my brain and fingers have this way of communicating that doesn’t involve me, I believe it’s called unconscious competence, it’s kind of like driving a car, you know sometimes how you get somewhere and after being there for a little while you think how did I get here?
Unsurprisingly, I’m dictating all of this to my PC and Dragon isn’t making any mistakes, it understands everything I say it works quickly and I think, if I can get used to it, then it’s going to be a very great addition to my working day.
I can already tell, however, that this review will sound nothing like my normal style, of course, that’s because I am not writing it, I am having a conversation with my PC, albeit one-sided.
The strangest thing is that I have not trained the software at all and other than a few issues with my speech nothing is going horribly wrong.
So I’m getting over the mental block that is sitting talking to my computer, it still doesn’t feel like writing reviews, I don’t think it ever will because I have to sit and reflect on what I said which doesn’t seem to stay with me as well as what I think when I’m typing. I read through some of the documentation about Dragon last night and it said that Dragon will adapt to me and I think it’s already doing it.
I’m surprised to be finding the software quite intuitive, I say things like “end of the document”, I didn’t read that anywhere I just want to go to the end of the document so I said it and Dragon did it. I am a typical man so I also skipped the tutorial, I’m sure when I take the time to go through the tutorial today I’ll have a better understanding of what Dragon can do.
Dragon appears to only misunderstand me when I speak too quickly or more likely too slovenly and I’m really surprised at how accurate it is.
I started working today and a really strange thing happened, I noticed how I was just naturally talking to my computer, I noticed the difference between today and yesterday particularly in that I am feeling much more fluid in the way that I am talking. I think it’s because I am talking to my PC now as if it was a YouTube video which makes it easier for me to get into the flow of carrying on and not worrying about what’s appearing on the screen. This is due to the fact that Dragon has been so accurate and has given me more confidence to be able to just carry on and talk.
Yesterday there were a few errors every now and again but right now, Dragon appears to be incredibly accurate. This morning as I started using Dragon it asked to analyse my documents and sent emails, as the only things in my document and sent folders are previous reviews and communications with games companies I agreed.
Whilst I do feel more comfortable speaking to my PC, I’m pretty sure the reason Dragon has become more accurate, is because it’s learned about me, I’m not sure how that makes me feel.
One thing I can say for sure is I really am impressed with how easy this has become and right now not sure I want to go back to typing.
I had to get the end of a story written for my next Nevermoria book. It’s a story I told my children then started to write down then published. The thing about writing a story down is that you lose the flow of the narrative and have to keep picking it back up.
When you tell a story it’s an entirely different process. For example, I was telling my children the Nevermoria story yesterday and I could see from the look on their faces they didn’t like the direction we were going so I flipped it, and made something funny happen.
Because when you’re writing a story down it’s a much more fractured process, in that you are on your own, in your head and you can’t see the impact of your story as it unfolds. Any parent will tell you that telling a story to young children without doing the voices is a no-no so, today, whilst I was dictating to my PC, Dragon understood me, even though I was doing the voices.
I’m certainly past the conscious incompetence stage with Dragon and I feel that I’m using it as naturally as I would any other piece of software. It’s really intuitive and that’s quite impressive considering I’ve never used a software like this before.
Well, it’s the end of a working week and I am well and truly converted to this way of working. I do not know how many words per minute I am currently working at with Dragon, however, it certainly a lot closer than I ever thought it would be to typing and I may even be surpassing my typing speed as it really does feel very easy to do this.
Today I dictated a review, completed nearly 2 chapters of a story I’m working on and because I got that done so quickly I spent the rest the day playing Grand Theft Auto online. What a great day to be alive.
That’s right, when I said I write every day I meant it, well, to be honest, I started using this software on a Thursday it’s actually Wednesday of the following week now and I’ve got a lot to get done. I’m not really thinking about Dragon at the moment I’m just using it.
That’s quite a statement, you don’t think about Word as your typing or Scrivener if you’re writing a story? They are tools that allow you to get on with your job and any tool that gets out of the way and lets you get on and do what you do is a good tool.
My weeks nearly up and reflecting about the issues that I have faced switching to Dragon, the greatest has been that remarkable mental block that comes from talking to your computer instead of typing on it. Once I got over that Dragon hasn’t skipped a beat.
Well, it’s the final day of my week-long experiment using Dragon. Will I make a permanent switch to Dragon? Will I forget my 20+ years of typing and abandon my keyboard to this new man fangled way of speaking to a computer?
HELL YES I WILL!
So last night, and this morning I used Dragon to work with Scrivener, which is natively supported, so Dragon displays a window when my text appears as I speak, once done I simply transfer my text into Scrivener and away I go. Scrivener is not a common piece of software so I was very surprised that I could work with it at all.
Switching back to Word I can certainly say that Dragon is more at home here, however, there was no discernible difference between using Dragon in Scrivener, Word, Excel or Outlook, that’s right I’ve been sending my emails using Dragon Professional Individual v15 as well. I apologise if any emails you got last Thursday were a little odd, Dragon and I didn’t work so well together day one, now are best buds.
Dragon is a remarkable piece of software, at the start of this week I would never have believed that I would be able to produce a document faster by talking to a computer than I would by typing.
The thing is, Dragon Professional Individual v15 is so accurate compared to anything else I’ve ever used before that I really am able to talk faster than I can type. As the week is going on Dragon has become more and more accurate and at the moment isn’t making any mistakes at all. It’s picking up all my little nuances and idioms of my speech and is doing exactly what I want.
When I review a product, I am inherently looking for flaws, I want to tell you the good and the bad about every piece of software that I use. It’s incredibly hard to find an issue with Dragon, now you look at my previous reviews and you will see that if something is bad I will say it’s bad regardless of the consequences.
My site may be small, it may be run by one man and I may not always get it right but I am always honest. This is why my site gets a lot of traffic and in the past, many people have said they have purchased a product directly because they trust my reviews.
Instead of writing a story I can tell a storyMatt Ince, childrens author
So I have been trying to find faults with Dragon Professional v15, I thought I’d start with the pros and cons list but that hasn’t helped because here my cons:
1) Dragon cannot tell if I am saying Blow or Below, this is my fault, I speak with a West Country accent, and even if I think I’m saying them differently they sound the same. I can’t blame Dragon for this, but if you have accented speech you may need to adjust slightly for Dragon to cope.
2) Dragon Professional Individual v15 was unable to make a coffee. I asked three times, it took down my order and no coffee appeared.
For me this is now an invaluable piece of software, I will use it daily, I will write all of my reviews like this as I like the conversational style of this what has come before. I think my reviews will benefit for this.
If you are not a business owner but you type slowly and have a lot to type, if you have a condition like carpal tunnel syndrome and would find it painful to type or if preparing documents or writing to people is something you have to do for your job but takes up far too much of your time then you could check out Dragon Home. Priced at £139.99 and as far as I can tell, using the same speech engine, it may very well save you time and effort. Without using the software I would not give any recommendations for it specifically but I am sure you could find another trusted source to get more details.
There is a learning curve but the interface and the software are incredibly intuitive to use and I think that predominantly the learning curve is more about your mental attitude towards the software.
You have to get over the fact you’ve got express your opinions and thoughts out loud but if you’ve ever made a YouTube video and spoken directly to the camera then this will come as second nature to you. This is a new way of working but for the first time in a very long time I have been pleasantly surprised by the way Dragon Professional Individual v15 has made work a little bit easier for me, plus, it’s actually quite fun.
I don’t just write reviews, I write books too. I published two children stories and am in the process of writing a comedy novel for adults and an adventure story for young teens. When everything is off the top of your head and you’re making it up as you go Dragon stands out and starts to shine. Instead of writing a story I can tell a story which is how I got into writing books to start with.
Once you realise you can just talk and Dragon is accurately taking down what you’re saying you can just get into the flow of producing content and forget about how your producing content.
When I set myself the challenge of working with this software for a week exclusively I thought I’d be itching to get back to my keyboard, back to the safety and familiarity of my comfortable way of working.
I won’t be using my keyboard again my typing skills will become weak but I don’t care I don’t need any more I’m going to be using Dragon.
This week has been eye-opening, I initially thought that I would use Dragon draw some conclusions post some tech specs and ultimately suggest it was a useful piece of software but not necessary. Of course, I was open-minded but I really wasn’t expecting to have my opinions changed as much as this. Dragon is ridiculously good, I’m shocked at how accurate it is moreover, it’s really easy-to-use.
I haven’t dictated this review and then gone back over it and added punctuation, quote marks and edited the layout, I have spoken exactly what I wanted Dragon to do and Dragon just did it.
It’s not very often that I’m surprised any more, I’m too old and too open-minded to have preconceived ideas that affect my approach to software. But I have genuinely been blown away by Dragon Professional Individual v15. I have not used my keyboard at all to put this review together, of course, taking it from this word document and putting it on the website will require plenty of manual manipulation, but that is the nature of the beast. This document itself has been entirely
written dictated by me and it’s a very different feeling review than if I had typed it.
Talking is something that comes naturally to all of us and this last week as taught me that we think differently when we speak about a subject than when we write about it.
If you have any medical condition that makes typing difficult, if you’re a terrible typist but are forced to produce endless reports, if you’re a student who wants to save time in their academic life so that you have more time to party, if your job involves producing letters, sending emails or in fact communicating with others in any written way then you have to buy Dragon Professional Individual v15 or at least check out Dragon Home.
We don’t score software, particularly if that software has a business application, PhotoShop, for example, might score highly but be absolutely pointless for a banker but that isn’t the case with Dragon. No matter what you do you will have written communication with others.
I can’t think of a use case where Dragon won’t make that easier and if we were scoring Dragon, it would sit somewhere in the high 90s because it’s an essential purchase.