Those of you who can speak faster than you can type or suffer from RSI might like to know that the latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking (version 10) has just been launched.
This software allows you to type at around 160 wpm without typing – you just speak the words and it turns them into text for you. It’s 20% more accurate than the previous version – which claimed to be 99% accurate – so that’s pretty accurate! No spelling mistakes! It can also cope with regional accents and speech impediments, and the words appear on screen 50% faster than in the previous version. It knows that umms and errs shouldn’t be included, which is very clever. And even cleverer – it can automatically insert all the punctuation too!
As usual there are several different editions. The ones that most writers will be interested in are the Standard, Preferred, Wireless and Mobile editions.
The Standard edition does everything that most writers will need. You can dictate into Word and most other Windows applications, though not Outlook Express or other Office applications such as Excel or PowerPoint. You can open, close and control applications such as Internet Explorer. It also comes with a noise-cancelling headset that plugs into your computer’s microphone socket.
The Preferred edition does everything that the Standard edition does, but also allows you to dictate into Outlook Express and Excel. It can also read text back to you in a natural-sounding voice. This edition will also work with dictaphones and digital voice recorders – so you can record your speech while you’re out and about, then come back later and plug it into your PC and it’ll type it for you.
The Wireless Edition is the same as the Preferred edition, but comes with a Bluetooth wireless headset. So you can get up and wander around the room as you speak. It also comes with a Bluetooth adapter to plug into your PC in case it doesn’t have it built in. Bluetooth has a range of about 10 metres.
The Mobile edition is the same as the Preferred edition but comes with a certified Philips digital voice recorder and the necessary leads.
There are other editions that are unlikely to interest you but I’ll mention them for the sake of completeness. The Professional edition works with additional Office applications including PowerPoint and Outlook, supports specialist dictionaries that can be bought separately – such as a medical dictionary, works over office networks, and can support multiple users. There’s also a Legal edition and an Education edition.
I’ve decided to treat myself to the Mobile edition as I need a new digital voice recorder anyway. I can picture myself lying in an autumn field (weather permitting) with the outline of my new book at my side, dictating away at 140 wpm, then coming home and letting the computer type it into Word while I have a nice beer … you’d be mad not to!
If you haven’t tried voice recognition software before, or you haven’t tried it for several years when the technology was still in its infancy, now would be a good time to give it a go – it doesn’t get much better than this!
Dave Haslett, ideas4writers, www.ideas4writers.co.uk