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Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 sharpens speech recognition, learns transcription

By Kirk McElhearn
September 27, 2012 11:28 AM ET

The transcription feature has a few caveats. When using transcription, you cannot make corrections as you go, so a bit of post-editing is required on the texts. However, while on the road, this is an excellent way to take notes and transcribe them when you get back to your desk. You need to use the standard Dragon Dictate commands for punctuation and new paragraphs; otherwise you will have run-on sentences.

Storage considerations

If you're performing dictation with an iOS device, make sure you have enough free storage space -- Dragon Recorder saves audio files in WAV format, and these files take up about 2.7MB per minute. If you wish to use a digital recorder, Dragon Dictate 3 can recognize a number of audio file formats: MOV, WAV, AIFF, M4V and M4A. However, it does not support MP3 files. 

At a Glance

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3
Nuance
Price: $199.99
Pros: Improved voice recognition; useful interactive tutorial for new users; transcription from recorded audio files
Cons: Transcription doesn't support MP3; some editing and correction quirks; expensive upgrade, required for Mountain Lion users of previous version

Because many digital recorders support only WMA and MP3, you'll need to use the uncompressed WAV format that takes up the most space. Most people won't hit the limit of space on a digital recorder, but if you do dictate a lot, you need to keep this in mind and perhaps get a recorder with more space. (The standard 2GB digital recorder still holds about three hours of recording in WAV format.)

It's not a big change, but the way Dragon Dictate 3 installs is different from the previous versions. Before, the program installed about 2GB of support files in the user's Application Support folder. Now these files are installed at the system level, so if you have multiple users working with Dragon Dictate on the same Mac, the support files won't be duplicated, saving disk space. While this isn't really a problem with Macs using large capacity hard drives, it helps with Macs equipped with solid-state drives that don't offer as much storage space.

Note that if you're running OS X 10.8, the previous version of Dragon Dictate (2.5) doesn't work very well, so if you dictate regularly, you'll need to update it.

Bottom line

Dragon Dictate isn't perfect, and may never be. There are still glitches when editing and correcting, notably with edited texts having capitalized words where none are intended. When correcting words or phrases, sometimes the program selects a different one from the one you want to correct. (For example, you want to correct a word in the last sentence you dictated, but the program selects one three paragraphs higher.)

However, version 3 of Dragon Dictate does offers improved recognition out of the box, which allows new users to start appreciating the program's power right away. And transcription is a feature many users have wanted since Dragon Dictate's first Mac version.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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