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Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 11.5 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £105
inc VAT

A superb speech-recognition program that rewards the effort it takes to master


Although Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 works with any application that would otherwise rely upon a keyboard for input, dictation is a skill that takes time to master. Speaking a sentence that makes perfect sense is no mean feat and pausing while you gather your thoughts can interfere with the contextual analysis techniques the software uses to help identify words. The need to speak punctuation marks also takes practice, but this update does help by streamlining certain grammatical commands. “Bracket that” puts the last-spoken phrase in brackets, for example, which is easier than the older method of saying “open bracket” and “close bracket” before and after the appropriate text.

Dragon correction
Mid-dictation corrections are all done with voice commands

Transcription isn’t Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5’s only purpose – it can also be used for general PC control. Commands for launching applications and performing common tasks are built in — “launch Internet Explorer” works as you would expect, for example, as does “search the web for…”. This version also adds built-in support for IE9’s new way of doing certain things, along with the ability to post messages to Twitter and Facebook using the appropriate commands.

Dragon navigate web
Say the number to follow the link when surfing the web

If speech control for opening web links or application menus doesn’t suit (even though it works well), or finer control over Windows is required, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 can also be used for direct mouse pointer control. “Mouse grid” displays a grid overlay that can then be refined repeatedly by speaking the number of one of the sub-squares within each grid square, until something on-screen is contained within it, after which “mouse click” achieves the obvious. “Move mouse left” and “stop” both work as you’d imagine, too.

Dragon Mouse Grid
It’s possible to navigate the desktop with the mouse using grid references, Blade Runner-style

The boxed edition of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 Premium comes with a corded microphone headset for dictation purposes, but iPhone users can now also use a free app that turns their phone into a cordless microphone. Both PC and iPhone need to be on the same local network for this to work, but it’s a handy extra and one that lets you wander around the room while you work. There’s no option in the app to record speech for later transcription, but Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 can already import various audio file formats and you can always use the stock iPhone voice-recording app.

It takes time to master NaturallySpeaking’s features, but once you do it works like the stuff of science fiction.

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Price £105
Rating *****

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