Skip the story and just compare Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium vs Professional Individual.
(At the time of writing in July 2018, Dragon Premium is only offered at version 13 and Dragon Professional is only offered at version 15. (You may be able to get Dragon Professional 13 on eBay, but make sure to look at the feature matrices below to see if it’s worth the savings…)
- 5 Things I’ve learned about using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the first time by helping my friend.
- Would I recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 Professional Individual for a new user? (Is it worth the money?)
- The difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium vs Home editions
- One reason why you might want to get Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 Professional Individual, vs the cheaper Premium 13
- How accurate was Dragon NaturallySpeaking in transcribing this blog post?
- DISCLOSURE: There are affiliate links on this post. Read more.
My buddy John and I are working together on a blog. He has lots of great ideas and an interesting view on the world. I’m helping on the technical side. We’re both teachers.
The problem is, he’s not much of a typist. He jokes about how bad he is, and he’s not wrong. Great teacher, but not really a techie-kind of guy.
John uses the “seek and destroy” method of two fingers, maybe three fingers per hand when he’s typing.
So, when I’m helping him out with some technical stuff and waiting for him to type out his ideas, it’s a painful process.
To end my misery, I let John use Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my laptop.
Watching him use Dragon voice recognition software for the first time was a little bit painful, but not as painful as watching him type.
Long story, short, it was incredibly quicker for John to get all of his ideas down on paper by speaking instead of typing.
The only training we had to do was to put the headset on John’s head and get him to do an audio check.
(Well, I did have to tell him to bring down the mic boom so it was in front of his mouth, but I don’t consider that part of the voice software training.)
Actually, come to think of it, if we slowed down to actually read the instructions from the Dragon software, it’s pretty self-explanatory. We were just were trying to get to “typing” out our ideas.
It took John maybe two minutes to read the paragraph for the audio microphone check.
When John got to the end of the paragraph, I had to ask him to start reading the paragraph again from the start, even though he literally just read that he had to do that out loud.
Eventually, Dragon adjusted to John’s voice and we opened up DragonPad (the built-in dictation app that comes with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It’s like WordPad… but for Dragon. Name checks out.)
I think the hardest thing about having John use Dragon NaturallySpeaking was getting him to say the word “period” at the end of the sentences. Otherwise, Dragon tends to give you gigantic run-on sentences.
He would say it every now and then, but to get him into the habit, I found what worked best was when I literally held up a sign that said “period” every time that he needed to add a full stop.
He got better by the end of his blog posts, but to be fair, this was literally his first time using the software. I’m sure he’ll get much better with practice.
In the same amount of time that it took John to type out his first two paragraphs on the computer, we were probably able to dictate out two pages worth of ideas.
1. It’s really easy to start dictating with your voice.
Especially now in the current versions of the software. (Before, you had to read pages and pages of stuff to get it to recognize your voice. Now, it’s pretty accurate, straight out of the box with no training.)
All you need to do is literally plug in a headset and just do a microphone check by reading a paragraph, and then you’re off and away blogging your views of the world.
(WARNING: some microphone headsets work better than others. Check this help file out on the Nuance website.)
2. I really like DragonPad which is a little word processor program that comes with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
I don’t have to worry about installing things into my browser to try to get Dragon NaturallySpeaking to work.
I can just copy and paste the stuff later into WordPress. Plus, DragonPad recorded the audio so later on, as we are fixing some of John’s words, we could just replay that section of the speech and try to figure what he originally said.
Note: you can dictate directly into Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, but we didn’t have a lot of time. And I didn’t want to waste time by asking him to wait patiently as I made sure that the driver or the extensions were installed in the browser.
He was in the middle of writing a blog post, and I had a faster way for him to get his ideas on paper.
I just wanted to get him to start dictating. So that’s why I went with Dragon WordPad. I supposed we could have used Microsoft Word, but meh.
3. Talking is easier for some people, rather than typing.
When I was watching John, he sounded best when he was just able to stand up and talk naturally.
I know sometimes when he’s writing, John comes across much more stiff and formal. His natural voice doesn’t come across on paper as well as it does when he’s talking.
So using Dragon NaturallySpeaking probably would help John a lot because he can just get his ideas down and then later on fix the grammar. (Or, get a copy editor to fix the grammar.)
Using voice recognition software is probably a good thing for John.
- Just talking and getting ideas down is a lot quicker and easier for John than typing.
- When he types, he gets distracted by fixing spelling mistakes, choosing the right word or changing formatting.
- He even said it was a lot easier to get all of his ideas down.
I was actually impressed with the software because John was just talking naturally and then every now and then Dragon NaturallySpeaking would just spit out the entire sentence and it was pretty close to what John said.
I don’t have the accuracy rates for him, but that’s probably something I’ll look at next time.
I did notice that there were a few mistakes, but Dragon NaturallySpeaking creates a voice profile as it gets to know you, especially as you correct mistakes.
4. The one Dragon NaturallySpeaking command I had to teach John…
The one command that I did have to teach John was how to turn the microphone off and that’s by saying “go to sleep.” And then of course, “wake up.” Over time he got the hang of it.
(I supposed we could have used the “+” sign on the numberpad which is the hotkey to turn things on and off. Maybe next time.)
Hmm, I did try to teach John the command, “scratch that,” but he was a little bit nervous because he thought that might wipe out entire sections of what he just wrote because he doesn’t really breathe to speak.
That might be true. It might wipe out a sentence, but it wouldn’t wipe out an entire paragraph. Dragon NaturallySpeaking works in phrases, so I guess how much you lose would depend on how frequently you pause.
5. Why I had to move away from John as he was using Dragon NaturallySpeaking
When I was talking to John, sometimes his microphone would pick up what I was saying and you could see the little Dragon symbol spinning to say that it was thinking.
So I had to move and sit a little bit away just so that we could have a conversation but so I wasn’t interrupting his voice dictation.
(I was prompting him with topics and questions to guide his writing.)
I have seen at a conference, demonstrators use Dragon NaturallySpeaking in a crowded room with a lot of background noise and people dictating with just a USB headset.
Maybe because we were in a quiet room, the microphone was picking up my voice. Not sure why I had to move away, really, but I didn’t want to slow down John’s flow.
I noticed one of the things that slowed him down a little bit was when he chose to add punctuation words like “comma”
His writing probably would come up better if he just worried about saying “period” only and not pay attention to the other punctuation marks. He did say “question mark” without any problems.
I guess, you just get used to speaking out punctuation marks, but if you’re just starting, I’d only worry about “periods.”
Next steps – Correcting our errors using Dragon NaturallySpeaking
I read on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking help page that it suggests taking the time to make corrections as a way to help Dragon to learn.
I think one of our mistakes was that we had John dictate his entire blog post in DragonPad, and then we just immediately copied that into a Google Doc and started doing our corrections and editing there.
Next time, I think we should correct the misheard words within DragonPad itself.
Even though the initial paragraphs might’ve been said a while ago, it seems like DragonPad actually remembers what the voice file was and you can actually use all the correction and the fixing commands that Dragon has.
Normally what I do when I dictate is fix mistakes on the go.
I say a sentence, and then I look to see how many mistakes there are, and then I slow down my writing process and fix the mistake (while also taking note of the dictation error so that I can count the number of errors at the end.)
I think this might be a little bit more accurate because you’re correcting and training Dragon as you go along, but initially this feels a little bit more artificial because you’re constantly stopping to correct things.
With this post, all I did was talk into DragonPad. I’m just talking. I’m standing up and talking at the screen; not really looking at the screen.
And at the end, I’ll go back and listen to all of the things I said in DragonPad. Count the number of errors. And then that way not interrupt the flow of writing.
(EDIT: I did fix the errors at the end, and found this post had an accuracy of around 96.9%. Not bad, but if you look at the list of errors that Dragon NaturallySpeaking made at the bottom of this post, I bet you some errors wouldn’t have happened a second time, if I fixed them to begin with. For example, if I trained the phrase “DragonPad” the first time it heard “Dragon pad”, it would have transcribed it correctly the next 3 times.)
Would I recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 Professional (which is what I’m using) for a new guy like John?
Well, probably not.
John doesn’t have a lot of money to spend. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 Pro is 300 bucks, although sometimes when it’s on sale, you can get it for $150.
$300 is definitely not worth his money, especially when he can get the same quality of audio transcription in Dragon Premium 13.
However, I would recommend the Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home or Premium edition for John.
The difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium (vs Professional Individual) and Home editions
John’s a pretty frugal guy.
- The home version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking is only around $69 bucks and it has the same voice recognition software as the other versions on the market.
- The Premium version is closer to $149 but has more features.
- The Professional version is closer to $300, and has even more features.
And for what John needs (which is just talking and writing down what he says), Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home is probably enough.
DISCLOSURE: I’ve never used a home edition of Dragon software.
I’ve used Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium and Professional versions, but never the home version. (I started with the Premium version with the educational discount, and just kept on upgrading from there.)
The Premium version is around $149 bucks (or around $100 if you are a qualified student or teacher,) so it’s definitely more expensive than the home version.
But, the big quality-of-life feature you get with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium is the ability to playback your speech when correcting documents.
When I want to correct something, right now I just say, “play that back,” and then I can quickly correct the mistake. I’m pretty sure Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home version won’t do this play back.
Why is this a big deal?
- I think the playback feature makes correcting Dragon software a lot easier…
- And correcting Dragon NaturallySpeaking helps improve your accuracy,
- And more accurate voice recognition makes your life easier, so…
Here’s the Nuance help page where it compares the features in Dragon NaturallySpeaking between the Legal, Professional, Premium, and Home editions.
Here’s a screenshot of the PDF. You want to look for the section called advanced correction / editing to see the difference between the Premium and the Home editions:
Having said that, there is one good reason why you might want to get Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 Professional Individual, instead of Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 13.
That’s because Dragon Professional 15 can save synchronized audio which means you can listen to the original dictation (and correct / train your audio profile) on a different date.
Or, more accurately, John can focus on talking and blogging, and when we get together, I can use his audio files to improve his Dragon voice profile. (In an ideal world, John would just save his work and fix the transcription errors on his own. But, let’s be real. I’m going to end up doing it.)
Here’s a copy of the DragonPad file that I made using my Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional edition. (I saved it a few days ago, and then life got busy and I didn’t get around to fixing my transcription errors that recording session.)
Dragon saves a “.dra” file along with the transcribed text file.
With Dragon Premium 13, you can’t save your audio with the text file, so once you close your file, you’re out of luck.
Yes, I know there are other big differences between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional 15 Individual and the cheaper Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 13.
- For me, the other key difference is custom commands where you can automate tasks in Dragon Pro 15.
- Also, Dragon Pro 15 is Windows 10 certified and provides full text control and natural language commands in Office 2016.
But for John, the big thing is just being able to blog with his voice. That’ll make his life a lot easier.
And the cheaper Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 will do that for him.
(It does mean, I can’t easily help John train and correct Dragon because it won’t save his audio file, but personally, with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, I found it was anywhere from 96-99% accurate, anyway.)
So we’ll see how things go with John as I get him to dictate when we get together to work on his blog.
Aside: John isn’t completely new to voice dictation.
- When he texts his sister, he holds up his iPhone and he just says what he needs to say into the iPhone.
- So the idea of talking into a computer is there. It’s just I find the iPhone voice recognition isn’t as accurate as Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
- Especially when you compare talking into a phone with talking into a headset with a microphone at a fixed distance from what you’re saying.
One day, maybe I’ll get John a wireless headset and that’ll let him walk around. It’ll probably make him dictate a little more naturally, as John is a walker.
But, my personal bias is I find the USB headsets just to be a little bit more accurate when I dictate, but I’m sure this is my impression and not reality.
Also: John, when you read this, remember you have a 30 day cancellation
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional Individual 15 was 96.92% accurate in transcribing this blog post
I talk, it types for me. Overall, in the first draft, there were 1561 words and 48 errors made by the voice dictation software.
I used DragonPad and just talked out the entire blog post, saved the file, and then went back and fixed my mistakes (to help train my Dragon voice profile and get it used to me.)
Hmm. I wonder how many spelling mistakes the average person makes. If it’s more than 3 mistakes per 100 words, then in this case Dragon Professional Individual 15 would win the accuracy race.
Mistakes that Dragon NaturallySpeaking made:
If you look at the table below, you can see the kinds of mistakes Dragon made.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking thought I said…
|He has a lot||It is a lot|
|He probably||It probably|
|when he’s typing||when his typing|
|helping them out||Helping him out|
|Literally time to turn down||literally tell him to turn down|
|I’m sure he’ll get||I’m sure hope get|
|We were probably||We are probably|
|try to get it to work||try to get work|
|Internet Explorer or Google Chrome||Internet Explorer Google Chrome|
|get him||get them|
|why I went||why went|
|writing is paragraphs||writing his paragraphs|
|for him||for them|
|talking and getting his ideas||talking get his ideas|
|Dragon NaturallySpeaking||Dragon naturally speaking|
|and those probably||In those probably|
|just so that we could have||Just that we have a|
|Chances are the software’s probably||Chances are this offers probably|
|I tried to teach||I try to teach|
|that it suggests||that is suggests|
|Dragon to learn||Dragon the learn|
|We used||we use|
|Immediately copy||immediately copied|
|Google Doc||Google talk|
|It seems like||Seems like|
|I look||I looked|
|I’m gonna||I meant|
|when we get together to work on his blog||when we get to go to work on his blog|
|John isn’t completely||John is in completely|
|he texts||he taxes|
|iPhone and he just says||iPhone he just says|
|, but it’s just the iPhone||, but assist the iPhone|
|I find isn’t as accurate||I find is and as accurate|
|and that’ll let him walk around||and thou let him walk around|
|My personal bias is I find…||My personal biases I find|
|Just to be||Just be|
|DragonPad x4||Dragon pad|
New vocabulary I taught Dragon NaturallySpeaking from the writing of this post…
- Google Doc
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