Alternative to Dragon? Braina, Windows Speech Recognition?
Thread poster: Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 06:07
English to German
+ ...
Jan 20, 2017

I am looking for an alternative to Dragon, to the point of even thinking about going back to typing.

Dragon 12 was working well on Windows 7, Dragon 13 supposed to work better, but everything apart from the actual speech recognition is a nightmare, especially since Windows 10. The changes to the user profile are not updated, the program is unclosable. I was putting up with it because the dication function always worked okay. Eventually I tried a reinstallation to see if it would solve the issues. For this I had to buy an additional download for 5 EUR, once Nuance only enables the download of the program for up to 2 years after the purchase date. Reinstallation did not improve things - user profile still couldn't be updated, program did not close.

Now I was thinking about installing it on my new machine - it's Dragon, after all! It speeds up my translation speed! Who cares about those minor bugs... To my dismay I found out that even the additional download isn't available anymore. Instead the solution offered by support is the purchase of a CD (!!) (new machine has no DVD reader - I didn't believe I would need that in 2017) for another 20 EUR or an upgrade to DNS 15, which would cost 250 EUR. Reviews indicate that existing problems with Windows 10 have not been solved in DNS 15, though, so I am not really interested in the upgrade. And I am growing increasingly weary of a company that unfortunately seems to rest very comfortable on its position as the only provider of speech recognition.

And to come to the original point: This Braina software looks somewhat strange, not really like a trustable software brand. Has anybody heard of it or tried it? It supposedly works as a dictation software in numerous languages and has uncountable additional functions...

Is anyone using Windows Speech Recognition for their daily dictation work?


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:07
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
my 2 cts Jan 20, 2017

Just a quick answer (I'm in the middle of a job):

Have you seen this: https://www.knowbrainer.com/forums/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=14&threadid=22604 (PS: the Knowbrainer forums are probably one of the best places online for information about dictation software)?

From my experience, Windows Speech Recognition is crap.

Yes, Dragon (whichever version you choose) crashes all the time and loses connection, but is still the best out there. I'm currently using a program called SpeechStart (with its own built-in speech recognition system) which allows me to easily restart Dragon simply by saying: "restart Dragon!". So if Dragon loses the connection with whatever app I am currently trying to dictating (usually Déjà Vu X3), I just say "restart Dragon!" and wait for about one minute. Then it works again.

Never heard of Braina, but I suspect it isn't going to be all too great.

Michael

(I'm currently using Dragon Professional Individual 15 on a very fast Windows 10 computer, with 32GB RAM, i7, etc., and dictate 95% of what I write these days, including all of my translations in Déjà Vu X3, emails, etc.)


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I'm having problems with Windows 10 as well. Jan 20, 2017

I've installed Dragon on several previous computers and versions of Word, and it's always been up and running very quickly. But I've been using it with Windows 10 for several weeks, and the accuracy is still poor.

 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Thumbs up for Dragon Jan 21, 2017

I am using Dragon 14 with Windows 10 and Word 2013, and everything just works, so at least there is no inherent incompatibility. However, I have heavily tuned my copy of Windows to disable all the (mis)features I did not want (especially the ones potentially infringing my privacy). Compared to any other voice recognition software I tried, Dragon is in a class of its own. There may be competitors in terms of recognition accuracy, but to the best of my knowledge, none of the competitors is even close in the size of built-in vocabulary - it recognizes hundreds of medical and engineering terms out of the box. Some of the words it knows are unknown to the Microsoft Office spell checker.

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:07
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Works okay here with Windows 10 Jan 21, 2017

Anton Konashenok wrote:
I am using Dragon 14 with Windows 10 and Word 2013, and everything just works

As with Anton, I find Dragon (Professional Individual v15 in my case) works remarkably well out of the box. So I would say it is certainly not as simple as "Windows 10 doesn't work with Dragon". The only major issues I have had so far are related to applications like SDL Studio not being fully compatible with Dragon. (For some reason, Firefox is also unimpressive in tandem with Dragon.)

On the whole, however, it has been a boon to me during the recent resurgence of RSI. I have taken steps to change and reconfigure my keyboard and that seems to have fixed the RSI, but acclimatising to the new keyboard and its new layout takes time. Without Dragon I would probably not have been able to do a third of the work I have actually done.

Dan

PS As an aside, like most developers, SDL is still focused on "simple" functionality and has not yet thought deeply enough about the fact that the first generation of users who started using computers seriously back in the 80s and 90s as teenagers and graduates are now either entering, or firmly in, middle age.

Many of us are beginning to suffer from slight deterioration in vision, or RSI/ carpal tunnel syndrome and so on. Yet many of us plan to be working for the next 10 or 20 years. Moreover, we have the money and we are not scared of technology - after all, we've been using it longer than almost anybody else.

Software designers really need to think about how to best use high-DPI screens and how to handle (gracefully) voice recognition and any other assistive technologies that will help an older but very experienced generation to continue to use their machines efficiently.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
MAc solution Jan 22, 2017

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

I am looking for an alternative to Dragon, to the point of even thinking about going back to typing.



If you were using the MacOS you would have Mac Dictation, which is built into the system and is free. It works in a long list of languages and is very effective - in the opinion of some translators I have consulted, it's actually *better* than Dragon (but as with all voice recognition software, you need a very good microphone). I use Mac Dictation all the time.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Microphones Jan 22, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

but as with all voice recognition software, you need a very good microphone


Actually, the problem is not as much with the fidelity of the microphone as with its directivity. Ideally, the microphone should pick up as much as possible of the speaker's voice (which only comes from one direction) but as little as possible of room echo and outside noise (which come from everywhere). Obviously, highly directional (supercardioid/hypercardioid) microphone will perform substantially better. However, one can also reduce this interference by dampening the echo - e.g. by working in a small room with the walls, floor and ceiling padded with foam or any other sound-absorbing material. It is also possible to filter some of it programmatically, which Dragon 14 can do for the US pronunciation and Dragon 15 for both US and UK - you need to choose the far field acoustic model when creating a user profile.


 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 06:07
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 22, 2017

Thank you all for your answers. I wonder whether the incompatiblities might be dependent on what combination of components one is using. By the way, the dication function of Dragon always worked well with all the different CAT tools I am using, but I also realized that accuracy dropped with Windows 10.

I believe updating to Dragon 15 is a bit like a lottery and I might try it to see if I happen to be one of those lucky Pc owners where it works without problems. Does anyone know anything about their refund policies? Reviews about their customer service are not too encouraging...

I do not own a Mac - I guess I will try out Windows speech recognition. Who knows, maybe it's sufficient for my purposes...

I started using Dragon with a 10 Euro headset - never had any problems with that.


 

Toon Theuwis (X)  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:07
English to Dutch
+ ...


Posted via
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Would love a trial Jan 22, 2017

I would love to try the Dutch version of Dragon. But before investing $399 I would like to try it first - for many different reasons. I contacted Dragon Netherlands one week ago about this. Not even a reply.

 

Recep Kurt  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 07:07
Member (2011)
English to Turkish
+ ...
An alternative Jan 23, 2017

https://speechpad.pw/

I have been using this for the last three months or so and am very happy. VERY affordable too.
You can use it for free online, or pay a dismal yearly sum and have OS integration (simple steps to install the module are provided at the site), which allows you to use it with any program, including CAT tools. Works even with crappy microphones.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Windows 10 and other compatibility issues Jan 23, 2017

I like my Dragon, but since I installed Windows 10, every time I open Dragon, Google Chrome crashes (screen goes totally black). This is really irritating, as many sites don't work properly, or tend to load slowly if at all, with my version of IE, my alternative browser. For example, I'm typing this out now, because if I open Dragon, the page will disappear.
All the "solutions" proposed so far haven't worked.
Now I just close Dragon if I need to use Chrome for research, but it's still a pain in the .... neck.
NB: I also have Dragon on 2 laptops and 2 PCs with older versions of Windows and they all work fine, so I assume the fault is with the OS and not Dragon.


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:07
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Nuance = zero customer service Jan 23, 2017

My DNS 12 had gone from bad to worse. I'm not sure if this was attributable to W10 upgrades or something else but it reached a point where it stopped working altogether. I found people on the Knowbrainer forum to be very helpful but was still baffled by the best option in terms of an upgrade, the huge disparity in prices etc. I tried Windows Speech Recognition and found it to be perfectly adequate, but it appears to have zero compatibility with Studio. Eventually, I did a proper DNS re-install using the DPI Remover Tool on the site and then reinstalled the program and that did the trick. It is now better than ever but given all the time wasted on this I also wish there was a more robust and reliable alternative to Dragon.

 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Speechpad.pw is Google Jan 23, 2017

Speechpad.pw uses Google's speech API. I tried it several months ago and reported my findings here on ProZ:

Just tested it, and here are my first impressions (your mileage may vary):
In English, it is fairly good, but not as good as the latest Dragon - I'd say on a par with Dragon 12 or 11. OK if the text is not too complex.
In French, it seems to be a bit more accurate than in English (possibly because of fewer homophones and quasi-homophones).
In Russian, it tends to skip some words altogether, sometimes even several words in a row (impossible to use without monitoring the output while speaking). The vocabulary is very good, but there seems to be no checking for grammatical consistency of the phrases produced (e.g. wrong word forms). Not a professional quality conversion, some errors are totally counterintuitive.
In Czech, fairly poor, but it may be due to my non-native accent. Does not seem to take punctuation commands. Same consistency problems as with Russian.
In Danish, it seems fairly good for what I think is a near-impossible task due to the variety of Danish accents, but my own spoken Danish is too rusty to give a consistently good dictation.
In Hebrew, it seems to misunderstand the guttural (Ashkenazi) "R", as opposed to the Sephardic/Russian sound.

Finally, as with all online solutions, one may have to worry about confidentiality.


 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 06:07
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Found an old installation file for DNS 12.5 Feb 7, 2017

I was lucky enough to find this old installation file hidden away in some forgotten folder of my old computer and installed version 12.5 - what a relief! It is so much better than version 13 - the recognition is better and no more of that crash/stay open/problems saving the user profile nonsense. Should have given 13 back when I had the chance! I don't know about the newer versions, but I am very happy to have my good old DNS back. Now dicating starts to make sense again. Considering the current business model and user service, I will avoid buying new products from them.

 


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