With OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion’s new built-in Dictation feature, is there still reason to buy Nuance’s $200 Dragon Dictate for Mac voice application? Macworld’s Kirk McElhearn checks out these two powerful dictation solutions, noting that price isn’t the only distinction between them.
One of the most significant is that OS X Dictation relies on a remote speech engine in a Cloud server do do the transcription heavy-lifiting, so it’s dependent on Internet access, while Dragon Dictate processes you speech locally with your Mac’s CPU doing the calculating, so you’re free from the Internet umbilical.
Incidentally, Nuance offers a free voice-transcription service for iOS devices that uses the Cloud processing model, an I’ve found that it works quite well on my iPad 2, but not nearly as well as Dragon Dictate on my Mac.
Other limitations of OS X Dictation are that it hasn’t the capacity to “learn” your voice, so verious users’ accuracy experience will vary depending on accent and inflection. On the other hand, you won’t need to “train” Dictation to recognize your voice. You can also only speak in up to 30 second bursts between processing interruptions with OS X Dictation, while Dragion Dictate imposes no such interruptions to your train of thought.
Both Dictation and Dragon Dictate benefit from your using a high-quality noise-cancelling microphone rather than relying on the Mac’s built-in mic. Dictate can be purchased bundled with a very good Plantronics headset.
If you plan to use dictation a lot (and you probably will use it more than you imagine once you get onto it), Dragon Dictate is a much more satisfactory solution, but OS X Dictation is great for casual use and short-form entries, and lets you experiment with voice technology at no extra cost (but buy a good mic anyway) if you already have Mountain Lion.
For Kirk McElhearn’s comparo, see: