Lately, attorneys at our live seminars have been asking about Dragon Dictation software; they want to know if we think this is worth considering. The short answer is: yes.
Nuance, the company that creates the Dragon Dictation software, now has versions for both the PC and Mac. The PC version is more mature, and that’s the one we can recommend. The Mac version is not quite ready for prime-time, unless you are willing to suffer some minor slings and arrows. Also, it costs twice as much as the Windows version (which is crazy since it doesn’t work half as well).
On the PC side the latest version is called Dragon Naturally Speaking 11. You don’t need to spend more for the premium version (or the legal version). The Home version that comes with a USB headset is good enough to get started with, and will probably be all you’ll ever need. That version sells for about $80 on Amazon.
Set up takes about 10 minutes, and the voice training is another 10 minutes at most. At that point you’re ready to experience something truly magical. You speak words and your computer types them. But, just because it’s magic that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything more than speak. You have to learn to issue the proper commands to get the software to do what you want. And learning those commands takes a little time, and a little getting used to.
Everyone who uses dictation software extensively will tell you that it takes a few weeks to get to the point where you don’t have to think about what to do in order to get results to appear on screen. But, if you aren’t super fast at typing, or if you have wrist strain from typing, then the effort will seem trivial. Even if you do type fast, you’ll find that you can dictate a lot faster than you can type.
Many people will say that they’ve tried Dragon and found that it just didn’t work very well. You have to remember that dictation software has gotten much better, and computers have gotten much more powerful, in recent years. So if you haven’t tried dictation software in a few years then you might want to give it another shot.