Top Four Voice Recognition Software Programs

The average computer user types forty words per minute, while the average person speaks at 150 words per minute. That’s quite a difference! If you type quite a bit for either business or pleasure, and you aren’t satisfied with your typing speed, then you might consider voice recognition software as a relatively inexpensive solution. There are questions as to whether or not voice recognition software is accurate. Certainly, there are problems because no voice recognition software is perfect, but reviewers are raving about some of the top software packages. As technology progresses, manufacturers are working out the kinks that made voice recognition software difficult to use in the past, and now accuracy and speed are better than ever. Prices are also more competitive now that other services have entered the market, so now might be the best time to buy.

1. Dragon NaturallySpeaking

From what I’ve read, Dragon Voice Recognition Software is heads and shoulders above all other providers. I’ve used it only a few times to get the basic idea, but so far it looks pretty simple. Dragon can be used with nearly all Windows based software, and it has now achieved 99% accuracy, while most other providers are only 70% accurate. The most difficult aspect of Dragon is the installation – it takes approximately 30-45 minutes to install and convince the system to recognize your voice. After that, the process is fairly simple.

Dragon costs between $80 and $200, depending on which version is right for you. They have a standard and a premium version as well as systems for legal and medical personnel. I recommend the standard version unless you need the program for Excel – it will only work in Word, Front Page, NotePad, and Outlook. In most cases, the software comes with a headset as well as a user manual and other information. The premium version allows for recorder portability, while the standard version does not.

2. IBM Via Voice

IBM Via Voice is not as accurate as the Dragon package, but it is certainly less expensive. At around $50.00 per package, Via Voice is perfect for those who simply want to experiment with voice recognition or who have the time to go back and edit for accuracy. Via Voice takes far less time to install than Dragon, and the entire system is easier to use. However, you will have to sacrafice quality for convenience.

Via Voice does have a noise-canceling microphone for ease of use, digital handheld recorder support and portable navigation macros. It also provides “voice shortcut” options that allow the user to avoid having to speak commas, periods and other punctuation marks.

3. MacSpeech iListen

There are unfortunately few voice recognition software packages for Mac users, but the iListen package is a wonderful first step. Although not as accurate as the Dragon package, this system is fairly easy to use and adaptable to the Mac OS X Panther. Everyone I’ve talked to says that it is better than the IBM Mac option, which has very low accuracy, and this package can be run directly from Apple office applications.

The entire package costs around $125, and includes a headset and user’s manual. Since Dragon’s package is only for Windows users, iListen is the best available option for Mac users.

4. Commodio, Inc. QPointer Voice

This software package is geared more toward assistive technology rather than a voice recognition system. Rather than concentrating on allowing users to type documents, QPointer is more suitable for surfing the web. You can navigate web pages, imput passwords and ID logins without having to touch the keyboard. It costs around $175, however, so if you are looking for a system that allows you to type text documents, then you should go with IBM ViaVoice or the Dragon software packages.

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