Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 first look

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, Mac Software, Miscellaneous / Other

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I haven’t thoroughly explored explored DragonDictate for Mac 3 yet since the installation disk only arrived a few days ago, but I thought I would share my initial impressions in broad strokes form for anyone contemplating the purchase of DragonDictate. Dictation software is a tool I heartily recommend (having been a user for some 15 years) even if you don’t have issues with typing pain or a disability.

Some might question whether a freestanding dictation application is a worthwhile investment now that Apple has built the Dictate function into OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion by default. Mountain Lion Dictate is great, but its untrainability and consequent lower level of accuracy renders it more of a utility for occasional use than a serious workflow tool, which is what DragonDictate is.

Dragon Dictate

But first things first. In order to install Dragon Dictate for Mac 3, you’ll need at least OS X 10.7 Lion, so Snow Leopard holdouts will be henceforth limited to DragonDictate 2.5 as their ultimate DragpnDictate upgrade.

Nuance also recommends a minimum of a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor. My late 2008 unibody MacBook is only 2.0 GHz, so it’ll be interesting to see how Dragon dictate for Mac 3 performs on it as time unfolds So far, all seems to be well. Dragon Dictate 3 is at least as lively on the old MacBook as version 2.5 was, and seems to be working fine. I do have 4GB of RAM, which is twice what the minimum system requirement calls for, so that probably helps.

Installation has been simplified, with the program now using a standard Apple installer. The easy install was a another reason for me to be happy my computer still has a built-in optical drive. The installation took about 10 minutes, and after I typed in the registration code, I was good to go.

The program didn’t pick up my existing Dragon Dictate 2.5 profile, so I created a new one as if installing the application for the first time. The training process has been simplified considerably. I’ve been using dictation software since the late ’90s, and have read more training stories to dictation applications than I like to recall. For this occasion, I chose a little vignette on stage fright by Mark Twain from the several alternatives offered. That took only about 10 minutes, plus another 10 to process (I went away and didn’t time it exactly, so that’s a guess). After that I have the option of completing an interactive tutorial, which I tried a few sections of, and highly recommend if you’re new to dictation software. You can return to the interactive tutorial at any time by selecting it from the help menu.

Moving on to try out some actual dictation, I’m blown away by the application’s transcription accuracy with only that short 10 minute training session. Nuance claims that Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 delivers a 15% improvement in out of the box accuracy compared with version 2.5, and I’m seeing no reason to doubt that. The accuracy and speed are simply amazing.

Dragon Dictate

Other new features include faster, more advanced correction. Simply speak to correct individual words or phrases through a single, easy to understand window. Select an alternate word choice, or spell and train new words. Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 includes a richer list of alternative work choices to, so when you make a correction it’s more likely that the word or phrase you intended will be presented as an option, and this improves the more you use the program.

There’s also control in more applications with Express Editor. Dragon Dictate for Mac 3’s Express Editor allows you to dictate into a text field that does not have fulltext control. After finished dictating, you can transfer the text from the Express Editor to the desired application quickly and easily by voice.

Transcription of recorded speech has also been enhanced. Simply establish a user profile for a digital voice recorder and have Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 transcribe your recorded voice quickly and easily. If you don’t have a digital voice recorder available, you can use Nuance’s free Dragon Recorder app to record your thoughts using an iPhone, iPad, or iPad touch (fourth generation or later). Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 will transcribe the recorded audio files when you’re back on your Mac.

The program also now adapts by detecting your format corrections—abbreviations, numbers, and so forth—so your dictated text looks the way you want it. The vocabulary editor also provides the ability to set alternative written forms of words or phrases (e.g. color versus colour).

Bluetooth support has also been enhanced, with Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 adding support for support for 16kHz wideband Bluetooth wireless headset microphones. When the program detects that the USB dongle of a certified microphone is plugged into the Mac, it will offer “enhanced Bluetooth” as an audio source type that does not require a script reading to get started.

A full list of all the new features and capabilities in Dragon Dictate can be found at the Nuance website.

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 is available for $199.99 through Nuance’s website as well as its global network of reseller partners, software retailers and professional sales organizations.

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