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Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11, English

Platform : Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows

List Price: CDN$ 199.99
Price: CDN$ 190.55 & FREE Shipping. Details
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  • Software for interacting with a PC using speech instead of a keyboard and mouse
  • Spoken words appear on the computer screen--3 times faster than typing
  • Works with nearly any Windows-based application; up to 99-percent accuracy right out of the box
  • Dragon Sidebar puts key commands and tips in one desktop location for at-a-glance convenience
  • Simple installation takes just a few minutes; on-screen help and tutorials; headset included
2 new from CDN$ 73.10

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System Requirements

  • Platform:   Windows 7 / Vista / 2000 / XP
  • Media: Software
  • Item Quantity: 1

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Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.7 x 6.4 cm
  • ASIN: B003VNCROU
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #682 in Software (See Top 100 in Software)

Product Description

Amazon.ca Product Description

DRAGON NS PREMIUM 11

From Amazon.ca

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium provides a whole new way to interact with a PC--using speech instead of a keyboard and mouse--to help you work faster and more efficiently. Dragon turns ideas into text at the speed of thought so you can communicate more freely and persuasively. Just say words and watch them appear on the computer screen--three times faster than typing--with no typos! Tell your PC what to do, and it obeys your commands.

Create/manage user profiles
Create and manage unique user profiles. View larger.
Get more done faster:
  • Dictate, edit and format documents
  • Create spreadsheets and presentations
  • Search the Web or desktop
  • Send email and instant messages
  • Create appointments and schedules
  • Use a digital voice recorder to capture notes for later transcription at your PC

Dragon 11 Premium includes everything users need to get started, including a high-quality headset.

Use voice to make a selection
User arrow keys, cursor, or voice to make a selection. View larger.

A Personal Assistant for the PC

With Dragon, users say words and they appear on the computer screen--three times faster than typing--with up to 99-percent accuracy right out of the box. You can even personalize Dragon with custom word lists and formatting preferences. Dragon gets more accurate over time as it learns your word choices and writing style.

More Accurate than ever Before

New! Dragon 11 Premium delivers significantly improved accuracy, reducing recognition errors by up to 15-percent over Dragon 10. Plus, it detects hardware resources and automatically sets up the recommended configuration for optimal performance.

Control Your Computer by Voice

New! More Dragon Voice Shortcuts: Just say what you want to do, and Dragon does it. In addition to simple commands that create email, schedule appointments, and search the Web or desktop, now you can use "Search [website] for [xyz]" commands to conduct specific searches on Facebook.com, MySpace.com, Twitter, IRS.gov, and the Nuance technical KnowledgeBase.
Custom Commands: Dragon works the way you work. Users can create custom voice commands--quickly and easily--to insert frequently used text and/or graphics for dramatic time savings.

Accuracy Center
Variety of tools to refine profile accuracy. View larger.

Be More Creative and Productive--Anywhere

Dragon keeps up with users' brains, instantly transforming ideas into text--with no typos. So you can focus on content instead of typing and spelling for higher quality, more detailed results. For optimal convenience, you can:

Stand up, pace, or cross the room--there's no need to be tethered to your PC when you use Dragon with a wireless headset. Or use the free Dragon Remote Microphone application to turn your iPhone into a wireless microphone. Now it's easier - and more comfortable - for users to capture their thoughts and ideas without letting the keyboard get in their way.

Dictate notes using a digital voice recorder to capture thoughts while they're still fresh in your mind. And training recorders has never been easier!

New! Creating a user profile for a digital voice recorder has never been faster or easier. Plus, Dragon 11 Premium now directly accepts more audio file formats.

Easy to Use

New! The Dragon Sidebar allows users to discover and access key commands and tips by putting them in one convenient desktop location. Its content automatically changes depending on which window is currently active.

Dragon Premium works with just about any Windows application--Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Internet Explorer, OpenOffice Writer, and more--making the applications you rely on every day faster and easier to use.

Create documents, spreadsheets, and email; schedule appointments; or search the Web--just by talking!

Playback/text-to-speech
Convenient playback/text-to-speech function. View larger.

Key Benefits

Turn Talk into Text

Say words and watch them appear on your computer screen in Word, Word Perfect, Excel, Outlook, and more--three times faster than typing--with up to 99-percent recognition accuracy right out of the box.

Unlock Your Creativity

Transform ideas into text at the speed of thought; don't let typing slow you down. Play back what you've written for easy proofing.

Work Comfortably

Control your PC in a relaxed, hands-free mode without being tied to your keyboard. Say goodbye to repetitive stress injuries.

Use Virtually Any Windows Application

Create reports, spreadsheets or presentations; send email or schedule meetings; surf the Web; update your Facebook status or download your favorite music--using just your voice.

Multi-Task Like Never Before

Tell your PC what to do, like "Send email to Jon Smith and Raphael Sanchez" or "Search the Web for Internet marketing companies in Boston, Massachusetts" to work faster and smarter. Complete multiple steps with a single voice command.

Work Your Way

Personalize Dragon with custom word lists and voice commands that reflect the kind of work you do; set formatting preferences, too.

Be Productive On the Go

Use a Nuance-approved digital voice recorder from anywhere, at anytime and Dragon will automatically transcribe the audio files when you return to your PC. Wireless microphone support delivers even more convenience.

Success Stories

Ed Madaus, Executive Director of Guild of St. Agnes: “I wasn’t doing a good job hunting and pecking on the keyboard while composing and replying to e-mails. My e-mail replies used to be as brief as possible, but now I can just speak my responses and be more in-depth with them.” Read more [PDF]

Officer Jeff Potter, Cottonwood, Utah Police Department: “Dragon not only increases my productivity by letting me finish reports faster, it increases the number of calls I can respond to, which means I can be in service longer and have more availability when dispatch contacts me.” Read more [PDF]

Architect Christine Broda: "A lot of what I do uses technical terms, but Dragon does a good job of picking up just about everything. If I say ‘half-inch,’ for example, it better come out right.” Read more [PDF]

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Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kirstin L. Morrell on May 6 2013
Unfortunately, I'm one of the folks who happens to have incompatible hardware... which you will never know from the box. You can meet all the system requirements, and in fact have a very fast, new computer that works well on all of the newest games, but you might have hidden hardware that is not compatible.

For example, I have a Gigabyte motherboard. It has onboard sound by Realtek. So do many Sony, Dell, Acer, Gateway, and Futjitsu computers. Dragon Naturally Speaking does not work with the Dell, Acer, Gateway and other computers that have Realtek audio.

And if you buy Nuance software and can't use it on your computer, you are out of luck. You've just wasted $200 of your hard-earned cash.

You can also throw good money after bad by trying to buy and install a new sound card, or a different kind of headset from the approved one that came in the box, and cross your fingers and hope it works. But no guarantees you haven't just wasted more of your money.

Also, their technical support costs money and is a joke, in that they just read from a script and speak in barely intelligible and heavily accented English. And it's really the luck of the draw if you get one that's respectful or one that's angry and disrespectful. I've had both.

Save your money and use the Windows Speech Recognition that comes with your operating system. It's free for all Windows 7 and 8 users.
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By Miriam Allen on May 4 2013
Verified Purchase
This is a good product for those who articulate well but for youth with special needs it takes a great deal of time to program and then must be trained for just the one computer
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Owen37 on March 13 2012
Learn the techniques as outlined and after a short time you can use this product as advertised. It adjusts nicely to one's vocal style.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 442 reviews
1,111 of 1,144 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Speech Recognition: Carefully Select the Dragon Product You Need Sept. 6 2010
By SanjeevP - Published on Amazon.com
The progress in speech recognition over the years has been mind boggling. 1995 was when I first started using IBM Via Voice and you had to speak each word distinctly. Original Dragon product was called Dragon Dictate and then they changed it to Dragon Naturally Speaking in 1997 and I have been using it ever since, faithfully upgrading to each new version. At that time when you called technical support you could even talk to Dr. Janet Baker, the inventor of the speech recognition and founder of Dragon.

With version 4 they started Dragon Naturally Speaking Medical and that helped in that medical terminology was already included albeit several folds the cost of the regular professional Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Each version has improved the accuracy and they have not made the product unduly complicated or cluttered, as is the usual tendency with software upgrades. Version 11 of Dragon is slower and needs more resources, I could not run it in Windows 7 under Fusion and have to use it in Windows 7 under Bootcamp on Mac. The speech recognition accuracy is almost 97% in this version: it still stumbles on small words like two, to, too, 2; of, off; and, on; for, per etc. But upgrading from Dragon version 10, the improvement is accuracy is noticeable enough to make this upgrade worthwhile. Although program gives you the option of adding punctuation automatically, in my experience it does not work well and you are better off dictating punctuation. Tutorial videos that come with the program and on their Nuance web site are very helpful. In the past it really helped that you could print the commands and pin the sheet on the wall so you could reference them while dictating: not in this version, they do not give you the option of printing commands. But at least it was a pleasant surprise to see that Nuance has not ruined Dragon 11 like their other product Paperport 12.

Sitting in front of your computer screen you say "Search Hardware Compatibility on Nuance" - and out pop the results of your search in front of your eyes. The program will open your browser, search Google and bring the results on Nuance web site on your screen. For sure, you will be wowed!

Since it is going to be a while before the Dragon medical comes out, I decided to buy Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 Bluetooth which comes with PLANTRONIC Calisto Headset with USB Dongle - 81493-02. For general dictation the accuracy is fantastic. By letting the program scan my previous documents, I have been able to add a lot of medical terminology and save money by finding no need to purchase medical version when it comes out.

Previously they did not allow the option of using different accents in Dragon Medical but in this basic premium version you can and that has also helped improve the accuracy of speech recognition. So by selecting the Indian accent and adding medical vocabulary manually by scanning my documents, I have not only improved the accuracy but also saved money.

I purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 Bluetooth and the Calisto headset that came with it works really well. Although Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 with Digital Recorder comes with Philips LFH0662/00 Digital Voice Tracer 0662 , if you look at Nuance web site for accuracy of different recorders under "Hardware Compatibility" Sony ICD-MX20 Memory Stick Pro Duo Digital Voice Recorder is the only recorder that gets 6 stars and I have been using it with Dragon.

Nuance's marketing department is very lazy and they use the same cookie cutter boilerplate text for all the different Dragon Naturally Speaking product lines without differentiating them but if you search "Feature Matrix" on their web site you can find the differences in different lines. The very basic Dragon Naturally Speaking Home 11 cannot be used with a recorder, has limited correction playback ability, and does not share vocabulary with different audio input sources. Then they also describe Dragon Naturally "Professional" version which does not show up on Amazon, as of September 2010, but has the ability to record macros and programming VBA scripts. Most users will need Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11. The premium version has text expanding commands, for example you can add a command to insert your full address when you say "home address". I still cannot figure out whether Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 Student Edition has any less features or just a cheaper version of Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11. Looks like anyone can order it and you do not have to be a student. Nuance does not even give you the specifics of Digital Voice Recorder and Bluetooth versions in the product descriptions. What sluggard's?

The technical support from Nuance stinks - almost non-existent. If you run into any technical problems, you are much better off searching it on Google and using the expertise of other users in different forums. Don't expect any technical support from Nuance. Even their web site is disorganized and cluttered. They have all the information available on their web site, but just not obvious. Sometimes you have to search Google to find information on Nuance web site. Thankfully they appear to have some wiser voices in Dragon product development which are keeping their eye on the ball and have prevented Nuance from messing up the speech recognition accuracy and user interface of Dragon, so far. Another annoying thing they have started in this version is the pop up ads from software updater hounding you to buy their program Paperport 12.

For getting speech into the software, you have lot of different options that include corded and cordless headsets and microphones and recorders including PDA's. The whole list of voice capturing products is on Nuance's web site under "Hardware Compatibility" and they rate each one of them for voice recognition accuracy by number of Dragon's. Sony ICD-MX20DR9 32MB Flash-Based Digital Voice Recorder has the highest number of six Dragons. But following are what they sell and recommend and have good voice recognition fidelity:

A). Calisto Pro Bluetooth headset which comes with Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 Bluetooth. But you can also buy it separately. In my experience it has the best speech recognition fidelity of all the microphones I have used, including Andrea. Purchasing Calisto Bluetooth as a part of Dragon 11 Bluetooth is a lot better deal that buying the two separately.

B). Philips SpeechMike - SpeechMike Air 3010 which is a wireless microphone but more expensive or Philips SpeechMike Pro Plus 5276 USB which has a cord. Advantage is the programmable buttons. I used it in QuickBooks Pro 2009 because the buttons could be customized for commands like next field, tab, correct, delete line, etc. But voice recognition accuracy is not as good as Calisto.

C). Dictaphone PowerMic II Nuance-Dictaphone that works with Dragon and they sold it previously only with their Medical and Legal versions. SpeechMike and Dictaphone recorders give you the ability to pause, play, fast forward and customize buttons for different commands. SpeechMike (and Dictaphone) are useful if you are going to use speech recognition in programs other than word processing or plain documents.

D). Voice recorders like Sony ICD-MX20, Philips Digital Tracer and numerous others which you can find by searching "Hardware Compatibility" on Nuance web site.

In last 10 years I have mostly dictated on recorders and then done the corrections at the end of the day in Dragon software. Real time correction can be time consuming and interrupt the flow of work; depending upon your line of work and accent too. Until now, I used SpeechMike 5276 for Dragon speech recognition in specialized software like Quickbooks, Quicken etc. mainly because it has programmable buttons - for example you can program a button to insert Ctrl-Delete at the same time. But now that Bluetooth headset is available, I have been using it with keyboard. At this time I am not sure if Philips SpeechMike makes you more efficient and productive than Bluetooth headset but it certainly is lot more expensive. Now that speech accuracy has improved, and the corrections do not take as much time, I have been dictating real time instead of using a recorder.

Irrespective of those dictation modalities, if you need to write a lot in your work e.g. journalist, lawyers, doctors, students, or for other projects, then you will not go wrong with this product. It will save you a lot of keyboard input and time.
361 of 372 people found the following review helpful
Differences Between DNS 11 Premium & Home Versions Oct. 15 2010
By Hal Lancer - Published on Amazon.com
If you are trying to decide between the Home and Premium versions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11, here is what Premium DNS 11 does that Home DNS 11 will not let you do:
* import or export custom word lists
* use voice commands (in English only, though) for Excel and PowerPoint 2003, 2007, or 2010 (Both versions can use voice commands for certain other programs such as Word)
* playback speech in documents
* save settings for more than one type of audio input device in a user profile
* allow transcription from certain supported digital recorders
* support a certain Bluetooth device for dictation

If you're new to DNS, you may find that one or more Premium features are very useful to your optimal use of the program. Most importantly for me, Premium can import or export custom word lists. If in your documents you often use a specialized vocabulary, say for a profession or hobby, and you can find online or in a file a list of common vocabulary words for it, you can save that list in Word in .txt file format and then import that .txt file directly into Premium DNS 11. This can be a tremendous timesaver over entering the words manually, depending on the size of your list. In DNS Home, you can enter new vocabulary the software will then recognize, but you'll do it typing or orally spelling them in, one word at a time. In Premium, after importing a list, you will likely still have to do voice training with a small percentage of your specialized vocab words, but most of them will be immediately recognized by DNS when you dictate them without any special training.

If you want to see Nuance's official list of the differences between the DNS versions, websearch "Dragon NaturallySpeaking Feature Matrix" and look for the .PDF file in the results. If you need more info about device support, websearch "Nuance Hardware Compatibility." Some other gear not listed there (such as my Plantronics USB headset) does work with DNS; Nuance just hasn't tested or rated it. Nonsupported digital recorders or Bluetooth devices may not work at all, however.

There are lots of mixed reviews here for DNS 11, I see. My own experience has been very positive with DNS 11 Premium version. It installed easily into Windows 7 Professional 64-bit for me and has done very accurate dictations with minimal training using a Plantronics .audio 630M USB headset. Because my PC is set up in the most secure fashion, with separate administrator and limited user accounts, I have had a couple issues related to my DNS User Profile and administrator privileges (when I needed to import vocabulary, and when I needed to set an Accuracy Training schedule), but I have worked them out. Most people will not have similar problems unless they have a Vista or Windows 7 PC with at least one limited user account; many Win7 users do not have their PC set up that way.

Although the software is surprisingly accurate out-of-the-box with many basic dictations and commands, to really get the most out of it, especially if you are new to voice-recognition software, you should plan to spend some time studying the Nuance workbook, viewing the tutorials available at the Nuance website, and using the Dragon Sidebar within the software to memorize and practice using the many commands. DNS 11 rewards study and practice with enhanced performance.
1,031 of 1,084 people found the following review helpful
Transcription Fail - Sent Back to Amazon Sept. 6 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11 by Nuance / B003VNCROU

I bought this software with one goal in mind - my intent was to couple the software with a solid voice recorder in order to transcribe spoken notes, reviews, and journal entries. My intent was to "talk on the road" my reviews and journal entries, load the sound files onto my computer at the end of the day, feed them into Dragon, and with a minimum of editing turn out the text so that I could then paste the result into an Amazon window and bang off for the evening. As you will see, this didn't work so well.

Firstly, I did my research. The Nuance website has plenty of graphs on the best voice recorders for their software. I eventually went with the Philips Black Digital Voice Tracer 0660 - an inexpensive model (due to its lack of bells and whistles that I didn't need) that records with crystal clarity, has one of the best ratings on the Nuance site, and is *optionally bundled with this version of the software*. I want to emphasize that point - I own the recommended digital voice recorder that Nuance bundles with this device (for an extra $100, of course).

Once Dragon 11 came in the mail, setup was relatively breezy. I set this up on a Windows 7 environment with no problems. I was a little disappointed, however, to see that the transcription abilities right out of the box weren't exactly 90% or better - just to be clear, I loaded in a simple three-sentence sound file and Dragon only got a single word right. Direct dictation worked a lot better, but I didn't buy this to sit at my computer and speak - I bought it to transcribe audio files.

Dragon 11 allows you to train the system by reading pre-set text into your recording device, and letting Dragon consume the recording and get to know you a little better. I read the full 14 pages of "Alice in Wonderland", loaded it into Dragon, and left it to its devices. I also read another 10 pages of "3001: The Final Odyssey" and fed that into Dragon as well. As the final step, and because Dragon kept nagging me to do so with reminders, I loaded in the text files of every review I've written on Amazon, with the understanding that this would improve the personal dictionary, as well as help Dragon understand my speech nuances.

Confident that my profile was now fairly well fleshed-out, I began loading journal entries that I'd spoken into my recorder over the past few days. I was frustrated and annoyed at how bad the transcription recognition still was. I would say that the software is only correct about 50% of the time - I'd round it up to about 60% for "content", if not for word-to-word accuracy. I went through 5 journal entries, "correcting" manually as best I could (this is supposed to teach the software), but the recognition seemed to get worse with each sound file. The correction feature is INCREDIBLY fussy and fiddly, too - highlighting a couple of words and right-clicking "correct" sounds easy enough, but the highlighted selection will shift sometimes, and sometimes your corrections will move to where Dragon *thinks* you meant them to go. I felt like I was fighting the software, instead of working with it!

Final straw was when I finally had to copy-and-paste everything into a Word document, just so that I could make my corrections without my typed text being moved to where I didn't want it to go. I bought this software to save time, and I'd be willing to invest the time to train it, if I thought the training would make a difference, but I just don't.

I like to provide clear examples in reviews, so before I uninstalled Dragon and packaged it up for return, I told it to transcribe my "Alice in Wonderland" recording. Keep in mind that this is the recording that my *entire profile* was initially built on - Dragon took this recording, coupled with its internal transcript, and used it to learn my voice and inflections. I then took the source file I read (left) and compared it to the Dragon transcription attempt (right) and loaded them into Beyond Compare and printed off a pdf comparison (link below in comments). Note that the ONLY lines that Dragon sensed correctly were the chapter titles. I can't include links here in the review, but I'll post them in the comments - along with a link to my audio file, so you can hear for yourself what Dragon heard (and I'll cop to the fact that my reading isn't flawless).

I'd like to emphasize that I'm not posting this review to hate on Dragon - I'm impressed that it can do what it does. However, I spent my money on what I thought would be a relatively clean and correct transcription tool, and since it doesn't do what I need it to, I had to send it back for a refund with no hard feelings. The only reason I'm posting this is to help others who may want the same thing.

~ Ana Mardoll
110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
Better than before. Still a ways to go for "Prime Time". Sept. 22 2010
By Bob Tobias - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I've been using Dragon products for some time and have always been disappointed with the results the versions I've tried all required excessive training time even after sitting through the long sessions that required the resulting accuracy or more correctly inaccuracy that more work for me rather than less then along came version 11 the promises of reduced training time and increased accuracy intrigue me and I felt it was worth a try I grabbed my digital recorder and recorded this review everything you have read up to and including the sentence was transcribed from that recording a Dragon software right out-of-the-box with only a few minutes of training

OK, now let's see it with punctuation (added manually, I intentionally left it out of the recording).

I've been using Dragon products for some time and have always been disappointed with the results. The versions I've tried all required excessive training time. Even after sitting through the long sessions they required the resulting accuracy (or more correctly inaccuracy) meant more work for me rather than less
Then along came version 11. The promises of reduced training time and increased accuracy intrigue me and I felt it was worth a try. I grabbed my digital recorder and recorded this review. Everything you have read up to and including the sentence was transcribed from that recording using Dragon software right out-of-the-box with only a few minutes of training.

The good is it is produces accurate transcriptions from a digital recorder, even with very little training. The bad is it still doesn't even attempt punctuation and the contextual engine, at least prior to any training, presented a very few interesting errors.

Another plus is that it installed quickly and effortlessly on my 64-bit Windows 7 system.

Another minus is that the packaging Amazon used, in my case anyway, left a bit to be desired. The product box was smashed and the includes headphones broken. That last part is no great loss since they're about as cheap a pair as you could imagine.

Bottom line is you'll be much happier with this than any previous version and if you've never used dragon software then it will take some getting used to.

BTW, I feel that honest, effective reviews can take the place of first-hand experiences that are lacking in online shopping. I've always appreciated the help I've received from other reviewers and work hard to return the favor as best as I can. I hope you found this review helpful and if there was anything you thought was lacking or unclear leave a comment and I'll do what I can to fix it.
92 of 96 people found the following review helpful
I really wish I could give this a better review Sept. 21 2010
By Veil_Lord - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
First I'd like to say, I can speak exclusively for my computer and my experience. The software may work perfectly for most people and many seem to love it, but I had a very bad experience. The first part of my review deals with my "fun" installing the software. If you think the software will work fine on your computer and you're not interested any install issues, please scroll down to the heading that says THE ACTUAL SOFTWARE.

INSTALLATION ISSUES
-------------------

I have a computer that's around 3 years old running Windows Vista premium, has an Athlon 60 X2 dual core processor 5600+ (2.80 GHZ) with three gig of RAM and plenty of hard drive space; it's a HP m8100n if you want to look up the exact specs. Suffice it to say, it easily meets the system requirements. The fun started when I installed the program. It took, with no exaggeration, over an hour to install from the CD. Yes, an HOUR. I timed it.

So I finally start up the program and guess what. It doesn't work. I get the below message.

"Error while unpacking program, code LP5. Please report to author."

So great, I'll try a repair installation. So I go to Add/Remove programs and try to use it there. Naturally, an error message is the response. I don't remember the exact text, but essentially there isn't enough access please run from the CD. OK, so the CD goes back in and I try a repair. Thankfully it goes faster than the install did and only takes maybe five minutes. However part way through, guess what ANOTHER BLOODY ERROR. This time there are processes running that won't allow it to update (more on what they were in a minute). OK, so you'd think clicking the option to shut down those processes would do the trick. I sure did when the window closed and the program kept going...only to fail right at the end and take even more time rolling changes back. The two processes responsible, the Dragon Speaking service itself and Acresso Software Manager (windows process name is ISUSPM.exe); both programs are Nuance's so you'd think it could manage shutting them down. You'd be wrong. So I try again, this time telling it not to bother, that I'd just reboot afterward. It finishes, I reboot. Same error. Just freaking great!

I go to try to find a solution. Their website is worthless. First, Firefox warns that the site is potentially dangerous, however IE doesn't have issues. Make of that what you will. Unless I'm the first person with this error, their search needs work because I found nothing helpful doing that. They offer free support for the first 90 days, but the site makes it a trial to get at that support. I went to try to submit an issue and it showed me as logged in, however the only options were "Create new account" and "Forgot my password.". I wish I could attach a picture to see how bizarre it is to have my name in the corner of the site showing me logged in, but having the site inform me I'm not. I clicked log out, but naturally I it threw me off of the page and I had to go back through the whole support thing to find the product again and this time be able to log in. I'm currently awaiting a response.

In the mean time, I found a post on a 3rd party website via Google search suggesting disabling antivirus. I tried that and the program starts. What exactly it is doing that is virus like I'd be really interested in knowing. I had the same result with Bitdefender 2010 and BitDefender 2011. I was eventually able to add it to an exceptions list, but I'm VERY uncomfortable running software that has to bypass an antivirus program in order to operate. It seems like an infection targeting would then have an easy time avoiding the scanner.

SETUP
-----

How did the actual program work? Well, first off it demanded to be activated, which I really dislike. I already typed in a security key and now it wants to connect to the Internet; you only get 5 uses without activating. Not a deal breaker, but annoying. So I activate and start the profile setup. First step is testing the microphone volume. At first it failed, but it was my fault. If you have that issue, try going to Control Panel, choose Sound, then click the Recording tab. Make sure Microphone has a green check on it and if "Stero Mix" is enabled, right-click and disable it. That should let Dragon recognize input from your microphone. Anyway, after fixing that configuration I went on to "voice quality" training, which naturally failed and dumped me back to volume check. OK, so I try again. Volume is fine, quality fails again. I'm using the nice microphone headset that came with the software so it's not even unexpected hardware. After the fourth try it works. The rest of the training goes smoothly and pretty soon it's all set up.

THE ACTUAL SOFTWARE
-------------------

The voice-recognition itself is really very good. The program is quick to recognize your speech and EXTREMELY accurate even with very little training. I have absolutely no complaints about the actual quality of the recognition. I was totally impressed how quickly it picked up speech and how was able to fill in the spaces after sentences automatically. In contrast the setting up of software it was user friendly and everything I'd hoped for. In addition the dictation, I also used it to try navigating in Firefox. I wasn't quite as impressed here. The controls seem pretty primitive even compared the "free" voice-recognition software that's included in Windows Vista premium and later. The Microsoft speech software has a very handy feature to show numbers on the screen allowing you to pick a number that corresponds to button. The Dragon software approach creates a MouseGrid which could potentially be more accurate in certain circumstances, but as a general rule is significantly slower. It took me 3 to 4 commands to do what I could do with Microsoft's software in about two steps. It may just be a learning curve though; I might actually end up liking it better if I get used to it.

The software also has a feature I didn't realize when I got it, transcription. You can provide the software with a MP3 file in the program will attempt to dictate to text what the file said. It's a very cool idea! However, my experiences were a mixed bag. The program was able to accurately understand most of what the file said, but it made enough errors that there was really very little point in using it. By the time I went back and corrected all the errors, I'd wasted about as much time as I typed out the information myself. If you're slow typist, I can see it still being a benefit. I don't know if the program will learn the speech patterns of whoever is in the recording over time. After I'd use the transcription, I could no longer dictate any text. When I issued commands the program and understood a few minutes before, now the program didn't understand anything.

Instead of typing, all I saw was a message asking me to repeat the command or the program would sometimes mistakenly take commands and start opening windows selecting windows or moving the mouse around. Shutting down the program and restarting it fixed these issues, however you shouldn't have to shut down the program and restart it just because you've chosen a different option. Sometimes after using it for a while it seemingly randomly stops capitalizing the beginning of sentences and adding spaces around words, then it'll start back up again doing things correctly; it's very strange. I'm awestruck by how sloppy this program is. I mean the recognition itself is nearly perfect, but in most other aspects I've found it wanting.

RECOMMENDATION
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All in all, and again this is my experience only, I find the quality of the software to be completely unacceptable for its price tag. It would be hard for me to recommend if it was budget software. While it is more accurate and much faster to train than Microsoft's "free" speech recognition software included with Windows, I've seldom had this much trouble installing/using a program. Considering the listed price, I would not have expected half these issues and the over three hours it took to get it installed and running. Unacceptable. Hopefully if you have any issues they're come up right away. After the first 90 days the company charges for web support, or 2x that charge for phone support. I don't think the service you're getting is a good deal for the price you're paying. Honestly, I regret choosing the software. If I had to do it over again I would just stick with the Microsoft software. The only thing that saves this from a one star rating for me, is that when it works like it's supposed to it is so accurate it's amazing. If you manage to get lucky and have no problems, it's decent software. If you're not lucky, you're in for some pain.

--Update 9/24/10
Got a response from tech fairly quickly, though I don't see a way to send a follow-up question to an answer. It said basically the same thing I found on that 3rd party site. Leave the program unwatched by your AnitVirus software and you'll be alright. I have no proof, but I suspect it's some kind of copy protection scheme that unpacks the file only as needed so it can't be cracked. Guess what, if you're using CA 2007 antivirus software or something that won't let you bypass the protection directly, tough luck; they suggest you upgrade the software. It's unclear if they mean purchase new software or just do a free upgrade. While searching, I happened across a related post for some software called "Voice Xpress 5" where they simply say to turn off any antivirus when it's running. That's your fix. That's it. Unbe-freaking-leavable. Concerns me quite a bit, since it seems like a virus writer could target Nuance software directly, knowing it's set to bypass any antivirus people are running or better yet knowing that people have it disabled entirely to use their stuff.

By the way, check the Nuance website for the requirements on the software or at least read the box before opening. They're the most detailed requirements I've ever seen and far beyond what Amazon is listing. For one thing, make sure your processor supports SSE2 (in most big name chips released after 2003 I think) or the software won't work. It's not their fault if you open the box and it and can't run it due to the system requirements so be really careful reading boxes even if Amazon appears to list everything. If it's not opened you can always return it.

--Update 10/04/10
I've tried using it some more, honestly I've tried, but this is getting ridiculous. I just used the optimizer on the voice file, which took about 5 and a half minutes to run...then the program crashed and corrupted my voice profile apparently because the program just made me retrain it for a new profile. It doesn't make its own backup before it does something that can screw up the file? I lose all my training time and effort? Bloody unbelievable how sloppy this software is. I have to shift my position to "strongly urge you to avoid". I really, really wanted to like this software going in, but it's just not worth the headache. If you still want to use it, be sure you backup your voice profile (option under the Profile menu) often to avoid this kind of annoyance. At least you actually can back it up manually; I do like that.

--Update 12/12/10
A minor update as I have now been using the software off and on for several months; it seems to have settled down a bit. I'm no longer getting all the weird command errors I was seeing, though it still routinely fails to capitalize the first word in a sentence.

--Update 9/8/11
A month or two ago an update finally came out for it. Stability isn't perfect, but it's been vastly improved on my system. It's not perfect and I'm sorry to see it took so long to be released, but I give them credit that they released the fix. Mostly, it seems to have fixed some of the weird capitalization issues.

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