Impressions: MacSpeech Dictate

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One of my blog readers recently posed a question by e-mail:

I'm a Mac user with a disability who is debating whether to purchase the MacSpeech VRS. Though I know that Dragon Naturallyspeaking is still superior, I'd much prefer to use software supported on a Mac OS rather than have to switch to Windows. Like Karen I'm somebody who works with Japanese. I understand that MacSpeech does not yet suppose foreign text, particularly non-Roman alphabets. What I'd like to know is your experience writing Japanese names and terms in romanization. I also hear that MacSpeech does not yet have correct as you go or spelling functions. I should imagine this would be a big problem if a lot of the text you are dictating has foreign words in it. I hear that you can upload sample documents for it to analyze, but how useful or efficient is that?

I have to say that I'm disappointed with MacSpeech Dictate. After my initial installation problems (chronicled here), I tried using Dictate in my daily work.

It was fine for composing regular e-mail messages or blog entries such as this one that contained no technical language. However, it was useless for writing any scholarly material as I use Japanese words in my work. Without even the ability to spell out words (N-I-H-O-N-G-O), I'm stuck.

Trying to train it to learn words is an effort in futility, in my experience. There's no way to really train it specifically on your pronunciation so if it doesn't guess Hanako right on the first go, there's nothing you can do it to tell it that Hanako is Hanako.

There haven't been any updates recently and I've sort of lost hope on MacSpeech as a company. I think I'm going to just resort to running Dragon in Windows XP under VMWares Fusion.


I've since bought Dragon Naturally Speaking and am running it under XP in VMWare Fusion on my Mac Book Pro laptop and Mac Pro workstation.

DNS is *much* better than Dictate, you have to wonder if Dictate really is using the DNS-engine as it is sooooo bad. The main thing about DNS that makes it so good is that the process of correcting errors will train it to new content and vocabulary, as well as your particular way of saying things (newclerr missiles, for example).

This is particularly important for my work as I trained DNS to recognize Japanese words. It doesn't automatically put them in italics which I would like, but it at least can transcribe them in romaji which is more than what Dictate could do.

All in all, I am thrilled with DNS (version 9.0) and look forward to using it over the long haul. Note that it runs just fine under VMWare Fusion on my Macs, but that I have plenty of memory (4 gigs on the MBP and 8 gigs on the Mac Pro) and am using XP because it needs much less memory than Vista under emulation.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on July 7, 2008 9:45 AM.

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