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Review: Nuance Dragon for Windows offers strong voice recognition

Mary Branscombe | Jan. 6, 2016
The latest version of the pricey but powerful voice recognition software for Windows continues to improve.

Dictating documents

Dragon lets you move seamlessly between controlling an application and dictating documents when you work in an application like Word.

While dictating text, I found a few short words would occasionally get left out, and from time to time a word would be recognized correctly, then inserted twice. Quite often, Dragon would tell me that it needed me to repeat a phrase and then would immediately insert it correctly anyway (which was another way I ended up with duplicate words).

Some very similar-sounding words were recognized incorrectly, like "sync" and "sink" or "dot" and "dock" (which Dragon initially recognized as "dork"). More annoyingly, I would sometimes get the singular form of a word like "suggest" when I had said "suggests." On the other hand, if Dragon mis-recognized, say, "accept" as "except," then the correct word would almost always be listed as an alternate when I told it to correct the mistake.

When you notice a word or phrase that's been recognized wrong, you can say "Undo that" or "Delete that." If you say "Correct that" Dragon opens a Correction menu that shows a numbered list of alternatives; you can say the number to choose the one you want, or say "Spell that" if you don't see the correct word on the list.

If you need to correct something you didn't just enter, you can say "Select" and then the word or phrase that's wrong; if it's a word that appears in your document more than once, Dragon shows numbers in the text so you can correct other instances.

As with the rest of Dragon, you can control the Correction menu with voice commands, including adding new words to Dragon's vocabulary.

It's also easy to do some simple formatting as you dictate, by selecting the words you want to format (by speaking the "Select" command). You can create a numbered or bulleted list, put words into to bold or italics or underline them, change the capitalization of words or put a phrase into quotes.

Almost real time

Generally, I found that the recognition quality was good. I was able to dictate large portions of this review into Microsoft Word reasonably quickly and without being slowed down much by recognition errors; there were only three or four instances of words that were so badly wrong that I later had problems working out what I might have originally said. (If you're stumped, the Correction menu has an option for playing back what you dictated, although that doesn't save as much information when you're using Web apps as when you dictate into a desktop app.)

I didn't need to pause frequently when speaking, although you will probably find that it takes some time for you to be completely comfortable composing out loud rather than on a keyboard.

 

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