Dragon NaturallySpeaking is voice recognition software for your PC. You talk and the computer listens and types what you say.
You can also control your mouse, search for things on the internet, or send emails, all without touching a keyboard. (I don’t use any of these features. Click here to see how I use Dragon.)
For the past few years, I have been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium.
Overall, I find the speech recognition is excellent. It gets on average 97-98% of my words correct when I am dictating in Microsoft Word 2010. This means, on average, I only have to correct 2 or 3 words for every 100 words that I say.
Not sure whatâ€™s the difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking home and premium (or student / teacher) editions?
Here are some things to know:
1. Dragon NaturallySpeaking comes in four different editions:
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking Legal
The average person only needs to decide between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home vs Premium. If you are a medical or legal professional, there are different versions of the voice recognition software with specific vocabulary sets for those industries.
2. Dragon NaturallySpeaking “PREMIUM” comes in a couple of different flavours:
If you want Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium, then you can choose from any of the following 6 different types of Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium:
- A physical shipment costs $199.99
- A digital download costs $199.99 (headset not included)
- Upgrading to Dragon 12 from version 10 or 11 costs $149.99
- The student teacher edition costs $99.99 (digital download, so headset is not included)
- The wireless edition costs $299.99 (Plantronics Callisto Bluetooth headset)
- The dictate anywhere mobile version costs $299.99 and you get a Philips digital voice recorder
All of these different packages of Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium come with the exact same software. The only difference is the price you pay and what audio device / hardware you get bundled with the software.
(Remember that the student / teacher version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the same as Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium so we can just focus on the difference between dragon naturallyspeaking home and premium editions.)
Hereâ€™s a quick summary from the DragonÂ comparison chartÂ on the Nuance website:
- Both Dragon NaturallySpeaking home and premium / education editions lets you turn your voice into text
- Both home and premium editions let you click, move, or drag the mouse just with voice commands.
- You can use the voice recognition software with a web browser or with word processing software (i.e Microsoft Word, OpenOffice writer, and WordPerfect)
The following features are not available in Dragon NaturallySpeaking home. (Youâ€™ll need Dragon premium or educational versions to do the following:)
- Use Dragon Natural Language Commands in Excel or PowerPoint.Â In other words, talk to your computer to give it instructions. (You can only give commands to Microsoft Word if you have Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home edition.) I personally never give voice commands other than basic formatting (i.e. new paragraph), but you might. Scroll here to see how I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking.)
- Playback your speech and documentsÂ for advanced correction and editing. (I use this feature a lot. Scroll down here to see how I use the playback command.)
- Use your user profile with more than one type of audio input device.Â (With Dragon NaturallySpeaking home edition, apparently youâ€™re only allowed to use one type of audio input. With Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium, I can use my user profile with a USB headset, a Bluetooth headset, and enhanced Bluetooth headset, or a mobile dictation recording device.)
- If you want to use a Bluetooth wireless headset, youâ€™ll need to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium. (Right now, I’m using a USB headset. The old bluetooth Calisto headset that came with Dragon 11 worked fine for me, but I’m having problems with the Dragon 12 enhanced bluetooth headset. Scroll down here for more info about my experience with audio devices.)
3. What’s the difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium and Professional editions?
By the way, if youâ€™re wondering whatâ€™s the difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium in Dragon NaturallySpeaking professional, you get the following three features in Dragon NaturallySpeaking professional:
- You get advanced custom commands.Â Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium lets you create custom text and graphic commands. You can insert frequently used text and/or graphics just with your voice. There are a few different ways to save time using customized shortcuts,Â right now, I’m using Breevy, but if money was no issue, I’d check out Dragon NaturallySpeaking professional because it allows you to add variables to these text or graphic commands to create more sophisticated voice commands and automate routine tasks.
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium also gives you enterprise profile managementÂ for corporations and large businesses.
- Finally the Professional Edition lets you save synchronized audio from your dictationÂ in Microsoft Word or DragonPad so you get an additional file along the transcribed text file.
How accurate is Dragon NaturallySpeaking? Does it really work?
Most of the blog posts on this classroom technology site were written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking with a 97 to 98% word recognition accuracy.
- I turn on Dragon NaturallySpeaking and do the audio checks to make sure the microphone is positioned correctly and so the voice recognition software can adjust volume settings.
- I turn off most of the background processes on my computer (i.e. dropbox, one note, etc.)
- I ask my cat to leave. No, seriously. Hereâ€™s why.
- I write my first draft using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5 premium with Microsoft Word 2010 on my Windows HPC. Right now, I mostly use my USB headset.
- I talk to my computer, and then at the end of the post, I check for transcription errors.
- If I read something that doesnâ€™t make sense, I move to that sentence and use the â€œplaybackâ€ command. (The playback command is only available with Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium. It is not available with the Dragon NaturallySpeaking home edition. Click here for more information.)
- As I corrected Dragon NaturallySpeaking recognition errors, I keep track of the number of word errors and punctuation / capitalization errors that the voice recognition software made.
- At this point, I am done with my first draft, so I upload it to the blog, and I make revisions, fix the formatting and images / links, etc.
- At the bottom of each post, I include the total number of words in the original draft of the post, the number of word errors, punctuation errors, and a few examples of mistakes. (This paragraph isnâ€™t included when I calculate the number of words in the document.)
- Sometimes, as I go through this process, I make changes to the original draft. I might change my wording, add or delete sentences, or otherwise revise my work. I do all of this tweaking in WordPress (Google Chrome) so thatâ€™s why the total number of words in the final draft might differ from the total number of words I calculate the accuracy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Hereâ€™s what I donâ€™t do â€“ A few things to note:
There are a few things you can do with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but I personally donâ€™t.
1. Even though you can control your entire computer using your voice only, I really only use Dragon NaturallySpeaking for dictation.
I would rather use my mouse and keyboard shortcuts to control the computer because I find it quicker. (Having said that, if youâ€™re using Dragon NaturallySpeaking because of a physical impairment, you should know that youâ€™re able to control your computer with just with your words.)
The keyboard shortcut that I use the most is the plus sign (+) to turn the microphone on and off.
2. Right now, Iâ€™m not using the Bluetooth wireless headset that I got with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I use my own USB headset.
Itâ€™s pretty cool using a Bluetooth headset to talk to your computer. You feel like youâ€™re talking to a computer in Star Trek. When I first got Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium, I got the wireless version and I loved it: “pace around and do other things and our words magically appear on the screen.”
There have been a few times when Iâ€™ve been connected to my computer with my USB headset and Iâ€™ve just narrowly escaped breaking my computer when I walk away. (The phone rang, you rush to get it, crashâ€¦)
Note: On my Windows 8 machine, I have no problems with the older BT300 Calisto headset that came with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11. But right now, when I can’t get the new enhanced bluetooth BT 300 II calisto headset to work properly.Â (You can dictate just fine, but when I try to correct mistakes with my voice, Dragon NaturallySpeaking seems to lag or hang.)
3. I donâ€™t use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to surf the net.
In fact, Iâ€™ve disabled the Dragon NaturallySpeaking plug-in for Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. I never used to have this problem, but right now, if I go to YouTube or another video site, Internet Explorer will crash and say that the Dragon NaturallySpeaking plug-in is not responding. This happens to me, even if Dragon NaturallySpeaking isnâ€™t turned on. I donâ€™t surf the net with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, so I just disabled the plug-in.
4. Right now, Iâ€™m not correcting my mistakes using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking commands.
This goes against the basic training rule I’ve heard from people who teach students to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking: the more you train Dragon by correcting your mistakes (with your voice), the more accurate Dragon NaturallySpeaking gets.
Over the past two years, I dutifully went back and corrected mistakes using my voice, trying to train Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I would give commands like â€œcorrect thatâ€ so Dragon would know when it heard me incorrectly and would do better next time.
But right now, I have a theory that Dragon NaturallySpeaking works really well straight out of the box and in the classroom situation, students correcting in a noisy environment might actually make their user profile worse.
(In fact, a recent blog post I wrote with a brand new Dragon NaturallySpeaking user profile with NO training correctly transcribed 98% of the words.)
So, this post you’re reading was also written using a brand-new user profile with absolutely no training. And, if you click here, you see that itâ€™s actually quite accurate: Dragon NaturallySpeaking got 98.3% of the words correct.
After this little experiment is done, I probably will go back to correcting my mistakes and teaching Dragon in my quiet office, but for right now, itâ€™s neat to see that Dragon NaturallySpeaking is incredibly accurate without any training whatsoever.
(Note: the only time I might train Dragon NaturallySpeaking right now is if I had to teach Dragon a new word with a unique pronunciation like a studentâ€™s name.)
So, now that you know a little bit of how I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking, hereâ€™s a list of posts that I use Dragon with.
Over the years, Iâ€™ve used Dragon with different audio devices: Bluetooth headsets, a USB headset. Iâ€™ve also use different versions of Dragon (11, 11.5, 12, 12.5) on different versions of Windows.
You can use the search tool to see how accurate the Dragon voice software is. You can filter by audio device, version, date.
I recently got an email from Nuance, the people who make Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software, letting me know that they are having a summer sale.
It’s a pretty good deal, so if you’ve been waiting to buy speech recognition software, now is a good time to check it out:
Dragon NaturallySpeaking summer promotions:
You can now save $40 on Dragon NaturallySpeakingÂ home edition.
- It currently sells for $59.99 (regular price $99.99).
- Click here to see the difference between the home edition and the premium editions.
Save $60 on Dragon NaturallySpeakingÂ PremiumÂ for Windows
- DNS Premium sells for $139.99. (Regular price of $199.99.)
- This post was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium. I generally get around a 97-98% word recognition rate. Click here to see how accurate the voice recognition software was in this post.
- (Iâ€™m not a Mac user, but the Dragon NaturallySpeakingÂ Dictate for MacsÂ is also on sale for $139.99. (Regular price $199.99)
Finally, if youâ€™re a teacher or student, you can save an additional $40 off the sale price by getting the Dragon NaturallySpeaking Education Edition.
- Nuance offers student licensing and teacher discounts on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium product.
- You can save $100 off the regular price of $199.99 for Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium.
- In other words, theÂ Dragon NaturallySpeaking student teacher edition only cost $99.99.
- Please note, this educational discount is only available to qualified students, faculty, and staff. It is a digital download, but you have toÂ prove your education status.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking doesn’t go on sale very often.
The difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home and Premium all depends on how much you want to pay and what extra feature you want.