Dragon may seem a wonderful solution on first sight. And in most cases it can certainly be absolutely great. But there are several considerations to keep in mind.
What do you need to successfully use Dragon? Important success factors include yourself as the end user of the software, your computer and the microphone.
You: the end user
Your voice and pronunciation
If you start working with Dragon, you will be using your voice a lot. That means that your voice is of paramount importance. If you have issues with speaking, like a speech impairment or a very hoarse voice, this will definitely impact your recognition rates when using Dragon.
The same goes for extremely fast speech or poor pronunciation of the words. If other people frequently have trouble understanding you, for example on the phone, you may have to pay extra attention to your pronunciation if you want to use speech recognition software.
Also you will be speaking a lot more than usual and in a slightly different way than to a person. This means that you may put some extra strain on your voice. If you are someone whose voice is easily impacted when strained, consider asking a speech therapist for advise on whether you should be working with speech recognition software.
Your mindset and time
Another point is the fact that you will be learning to operate your computer in a different way. It takes time and effort to learn a new skill. If you expect to just put on your microphone headset and all your typing and mounting problems should be solved magically, you will be sorely disappointed. Like learning how to drive a car, learning how to use Dragon takes some time and practice. It is well worth it, but you must be prepared to learn.
Some people are inquisitive by nature and eager to figure out a new tool. Great, these people usually do well with Dragon.
However, other people just have a huge mountain of typing work urgently waiting to be finished. They just want to get on with it.
And I get it! Fortunately, you can start dictating immediately with Dragon after you’ve installed it. Still, for optimal results and efficiency you will need to invest some time to learn. If you have no time or motivation to do so, you may want to wait until you do before purchasing Dragon speech recognition software.
Another success factor for Dragon NaturallySpeaking is your computer.
Dragon is a bit of a monster – pun intended – where your system requirements are concerned. While nowadays you can use any decent computer for speech recognition, performance will be best on a higher end system.
In any case, it is important not to have a system that already is the edge of its resources. A hard disk that is almost full, other resource-consuming applications, too little RAM or processing power, all these are potential hurdles for successfully using Dragon.
Not only your voice is an important factor for optimal recognition results, your microphone also. You can imagine that good sound quality contributes to optimal speech recognition resuls.
These days, most people have a headset or microphone that they use for Skype or gaming. While you can try to use this for Dragon, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work out so great. Many of these headsets are not suitable for serious application with Dragon speech recognition. Even worse is the built-in microphone of your laptop. My experiences with built-in microphones have never been good, even if the manufacturer of Dragon claims you should be fine with one of those. If you’re interested, I recently wrote an article about why these microphones give disappointing results.
Nuance, the manufacturer of Dragon, has a hardware compatibility list. Here you can find approved microphones for Dragon.
This blog post is, as you might guess, dictated with Dragon. In case you are curious: The microphone that I’m currently using is the Jabra Pro 930 wireless headset. I find it comfortable and it works very well. Personally I also often use a tabletop model microphone, the TableMike 3-in-1.
The quality of the microphone cannot be underestimated if you want to have good results with Dragon. If you are experiencing disappointing recognition results, checking out your microphone should be one of the first things you do. If necessary, purchase an approved microphone.