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Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred 10 by Nuance

 

Have you put off using a computer because you can’t type? Do you find hunt-and-peck is the best typing you can muster? Do your hands shake or your wrists hurt when you use the computer? Would you like to be able to talk to your computer instead of typing?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, your time has finally come. Voice-recognition software has come of age as witnessed by the new Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred Speech Recognition program. As a matter of fact, I am writing this column by dictating the words into the noise-canceling microphone/headphone that comes with the Dragon package.

To do this I simply started Microsoft Word, clicked on the microphone icon, and started talking.As I speak, the Dragon NaturallySpeakingprogram (Version 9) types everything I say.The accuracy of the program is amazing.In the last two paragraphs it has not made one error.It was even smart enough to capitalize “word” when I used Microsoft before it.

I have tried many voice-recognition programs before, including previous versions of Dragon, and none can compare with this version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking.You can start using the program with only a few minutes of training.The software works in many Windows programs including Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, WordPerfect, Outlook, Outlook Express, and Firefox. You can even use it to choose commands from the menus.

Right out of the box, the program is remarkable. I was truly surprised by its accuracy and versatility. The more you use it the better you get at the dictation and the better it gets at recognizing your words. So this is one voice recognition program that you can use on a daily basis.

The only drawback is that NaturallySpeaking is a “Windows only” program and it needs a fairly powerful computer.It runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Vista and requires 512 MB of memory and 1 GB hard drive space.I used it successfully on a 1.7 GHz, Pentium-4 computer with 768 megs of memory.

The included tutorials will get you a started quickly and easily.Although you will have to spend a little time to learn how to make corrections, the interface is clear and easy to use.

With a little practice, the only time you will need to touch your mouse or keyboard is to start the microphone.You can even turn the microphone off temporarily by giving the command “Go To Sleep”. You can then turn it back on by saying “Wake Up”.

While giving commands like this works seamlessly, occasionally, a command can get in the way of your dictation.For instance, in dictating this article every time I tried to use the words “Go To Sleep”, the program took it as a command and put the microphone into sleep mode. I had to practice saying the words “Go To Sleep” without pauses before and after before the program would type those words properly.

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