Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 comes in several different versions that vary in price up to $299 depending on the version. The latest version improves accuracy and includes commands for Facebook and twitter among other things. The version I reviewed is the premium version and it also shipped with a headset mic.
Before I start talking about the new software, I want to point out that I am not using the included headset microphone. I don't like to wear headsets while I, work so I'm using a USB microphone from Samson for my dictation needs that connects via USB. I also want to point out that when I installed the software originally, it would not operate on my Windows Vista computer. This isn't something to do with the new one software, but rather a Windows update that interferes with Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 and some other products as well from different firms.
Once I uninstalled the Windows update that was interfering, and turned automatic Windows updates off so it didn't automatically reinstall the same update each night, I had no other issues with NaturallySpeaking 11.5. I have used older versions of the software in the past and found the previous versions of NaturallySpeaking lacking. I'm very glad to say that with version 11.5, speech recognition and accuracy is much, much improved. I have a slight southern accent and traditionally NaturallySpeaking did not work with southern accents. However, you do have to enunciate clearly. If you're the sort tends to run words together (fixinta), you will find using NaturallySpeaking 11.5 can be a challenge.
The more clearly you speak, the better the software works and after using it for a day or so the entire process is very easy and seamless. I have had a few issues where cough or sneeze would somehow be interpreted by the microphone as a word or command, which was a bit irritating. Just beware that any external sound in the room or your environment may be picked up by NaturallySpeaking 11.5. That said, it is possible that the issue I found was due to the USB microphone I'm using rather than the official included nuance microphone.
Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 is easy and straightforward. Just like typing, you specifically have to tell the software the punctuation you need and where to place it. You can't simply talk and have the software enter all of your punctuation for you. However, that would be a great feature for future versions of the software. I found in testing the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 works with any text input field I tried, whether it was Facebook, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, or the administration system of this website.
I also think the software is perfect for those that either can't type very quickly, or that have problems with the wrist such as carpal tunnel syndrome because you don't have to use the keyboard at all if you don't want to. You can control all aspects of Microsoft Word including spell checks and functions using your voice. I prefer using a combined approach by speaking as much as I can and using my mouse and keyboard when needed. If you're an employer looking for software that can help someone with a total disability use a computer in your office, this software is perfect.
For people like me that can type normally, but don't type very quickly, you'll likely find that you can work quicker using NaturallySpeaking 11.5 and you can when typing traditionally. Switching to the software, I shaved about an hour off my workday simply by being able to finish stories quicker and more accurately. Some of the specialized terms I use the technology industry are not recognized by the software, but you can train the software to recognize those terms with a decent amount of accuracy. You will run into problems with some words that sound very similar such as their and they're, there is simply no getting around that.
However, I have found that the software is pretty good at picking the correct word in most situations. If it does choose the incorrect word, you can tell the software using your voice to highlight a specific word on the page and then you can activate the spelling or word selection aspect of the program. You can say things like "select that" to choose the last word you said and then say "spell that" to change the spelling of the word on the screen. Often those words will are to be listed in the menu that pops up any simply have to say the number that goes with the selection you want. Other times you'll have to spell the word and then you can train the software to recognize the word with your own voice so it will recognize the word without you having to bother next time. I found that generally works very well, however, on some words I was never able to get the software to accurately learn the term.
One of my favorite features of the software is that you can teach it commands. Commands are voice shortcuts for anything that you do on a regular basis. For instance, I use it to start my HTML link commands rather than having to type out the entire link code each time. That is one my favorite features of the software it's sort of like voice macros. I could go on about software all day with so many features and uses, suffice to say with this latest version I could give up my keyboard if I wanted to.
Even with the occasional minor irritations the software put me through, I still shaved a significant amount of time on my workday using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5. I highly recommend this software.
Leading our review center, Shane McGlaun (Google) knows technology inside out. His extensive experience in testing computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
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