In the Nuance store, you can choose between different versions of Dragon speech recognition (previously called NaturallySpeaking).
The Dragon Home version and Dragon Professional Individual are the most relevant versions and the price difference is significant. At the time of writing this blog post, Dragon Professional Individual costs $300, while the Home version only costs $150.
Are the differences that big, then?
At first sight, the differences between DPI and Home don’t seem hugely important. Especially if you only want to dictate and you have no need of creating custom speech commands.
Both allow you to dictate and use speech commands to navigate around your computer.
The data sheet about the Home version states “You can even have Dragon learn new words as you make document corrections.” So apparently you can add new words to Dragon’s vocabulary in the Home version. Who would need anything else? Right?
Well, I am not really one to climb on my soapbox and rant, but that little sentence has big implications.
Dragon’s Vocabulary Editor
You see, the Dragon Professional Individual version gives you access to the Vocabulary Editor. A hugely powerful way to tweak your recognition rates. The Home edition does NOT give you the option to edit the vocabulary!
And… if you do not have access to the Vocabulary Editor, that means that:
|❌||You cannot add words, other than via corrections.|
|❌||You cannot delete words from your vocabulary (e.g. if you misspelled a correction).|
|❌||You cannot help Dragon understand complicated pronunciations by adding a “spoken form”
(e.g. my name is spelled ‘Janneke’, but pronounced ‘yah-nuh-kuh’).
|❌||You cannot force Dragon to understand that your name is Duane, and not Dwain, Dwayne or Dwaine.|
|❌||You cannot add phrases to the vocabulary, which would make sure that they are always written with the correct capitalisation and hyphens.
Like in the “Yin-Yang Method for baking Better Eggs”
|❌||You cannot tweak Dragon to understand that e.g the word ‘blackboard’ always should be written with a capital if it is followed by a number.
In the Vocabulary Editor you could even make Dragon write that number as a Roman numeral: you say 'blackboard four", Dragon writes "Blackboard IV".
Now, I do realise that some of these features might seem pretty far-fetched, but being able to tweak the vocabulary makes the speech recognition so much more enjoyable to use every day.
Just consider that if you use Dragon’s corrections option to add a word and you make a mistake, without the Vocabulary Editor you can never delete the mistaken word.
Honestly, if you do any serious dictation at all, spending the extra $150 so that you can have access to the Vocabulary Editor is more than worth it.
Personally I wouldn’t want to have a Dragon version without custom commands. I use them all the time.
In case you don’t know, custom commands are speech commands that you can add yourself to the system. .
These commands can be extremely complicated, but sometimes the simplest of custom commands can make life so much easier.
Example of a custom command
If you often need to log in to a certain website, Dragon’s step-by-step custom commands make it very easy to create a command that will do this for you with a single speech command.
You can make it…
- fill out your username
- press the Tab key to move to the password field
- fill out your password
- press the Enter key to confirm and log you in.
Commands like these can save you lots of time. Back when I was an emplyee, I used to start up Dragon especially to fill out my billable hours. That was a lot faster than doing it by mouse and keyboard. And obviously, it wasy WAY less strain on my hurting arms and hands.
User profiles and backing up your custom words
Now, I do not have the Home version installed on my computer and I have unfortunately not been able to find clear information about what features are available regarding your profile and backing up your data.
What I can confirm, though, is that it is possible with Dragon Professional Individual to create multiple user profiles and manage them. This includes exporting a user profile, so that you keep it on a separate disc/USB stick as backup or move it to a different computer.
After all, in case of technical issues or a new computer, it would be fantastic if you could just import your users profile from the USB stick and you’d be right back where you left off.
Also, it is possible to import and export custom words in Dragon Professional Individual. That is particularly practical if you want to share words with someone else or if you want to create a fresh new user profile. You can immediately be up and running by importing your custom words.
The good things about the Home version
I will be fair and also point out the good points of Dragon Home. I have every reason to believe that out-of-the-box the Dragon Home version is exactly as accurate in its recognition as the Dragon Professional Individual version.
- If you do not mind some persistent mistakes that Dragon will continue to make and that you cannot fix due to no access to the Vocabulary Editor.
- If you just use Dragon to dictate about everyday topics and don’t use much specific vocabulary/jargon.
- If you don’t need or want custom commands to speed up your productivity.
- Or if you honestly can’t afford the more expenisve version…
Then the Home version can be great. It still has got very accurate recognition in many different applications. You can also use the built-in voice commands for many actions. Compared to, for example, Google Docs Voice Typing, Dragon Home is a MUCH more versatile and all-round solution.
(But as you might have guessed from the above, you’ll have to pry the Professional Individual version out of my cold, dead hands before I give it up! 😃)
What version of Dragon do you have?
I’m very curious what version of Dragon my readers are using. Let me know in the comments, please:
A. Dragon Home
B. Dragon Professional Individual (or Group)
C. Different version (please share which version, if you don’t mind)
D. I actually don’t know…
PS: If you want me to help you learning to use the cool features that Dragon Pro offers, check out the LearnSpeechRecognition Academy.