Speak the speech

Reader Manley Thaler would like to give his wrists a rest. He writes:

I am an attorney and would like to use voice recognition software for dictating e-mail, documents, etc. I travel with my MacBook. What would you recommend?

Though my doing so will pain makers of speech recognition software for the Macintosh, I’m going to recommend that you run Windows and Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking. People like The New York Times’ technology columnist, David Pogue, and Macworld’s own Scholle Sawyer McFarland, who rely on speech recognition to get their work done, use Dragon Naturally Speaking because it just works. It doesn’t require a lot of training and it’s fast and accurate.

I’ve run Dragon Naturally Speaking and Windows XP Professional under Parallels’ Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware’s Fusion on my Mac Pro and it runs beautifully (and it should, given this it’s the fastest Mac made). While I haven’t run it under Boot Camp, I can’t believe there would be a problem given that it runs with virtualization software. If you find its performance under virtualization on a MacBook too slow, more RAM will help. If even that isn’t enough, booting into Boot Camp is the way to go as you’re running a “real” PC in Boot Camp and won’t be performance penalized by running in a virtual environment.

Dragon Naturally Speaking also comes in a Legal edition, designed to work with the kind of documents and language you’re accustomed to. At just over a thousand bucks, it’s anything but inexpensive. On the other hand, that’s, what, like four billable hours for you? Half a day’s pay (okay, make it a full day’s pay considering you have other software to buy to make your Mac a PC powerhouse and you’ll also need to get a USB microphone or headset) is worth the convenience Naturally Speaking will bring to your work.

  
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