My goal was to perform an unscientific experiment to test the transcription accuracy of both Google Docs and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I wanted to see if the expensive Dragon NaturallySpeaking was more accurate than the free Google Doc’s Voice Typing feature.
How I Performed the Transcription Experiment
Here is a listing of the equipment I used for dictation to perform the comparison:
- Koss CS100 Headset (not required but I prefer dictating using a headset)
- Old MotoG android phone (just one more thing you can do with an old cell phone)
- Voice Recorder app (free download from Google Play Store)
I then dictated a passage from an old blog post of mine that consisted of a heading and two short paragraphs. While dictating I used instructions like “new paragraph” and of course I dictated all of the necessary punctuation. It was a simple and straight-forward dictation. I’ve inserted the actual dictation below:
Note: There’s a bit of silence at the beginning of the recording. This gives me enough time to play the recording and click “Voice Typing” in Google Docs without missing the first few words of the recording.
Once completed I saved the dictation as a .mp3 file and emailed it from the Moto G to my email account so I could access it from my computer. From there I opened it and first used Google Docs to transcribe the dictation. Afterward, I had Dragon NaturallySpeaking transcribe the same file. The results are shown below (click on the image to enlarge):
Reviewing the Transcription Results
With one incorrect word, Google Docs appears to have understood the words I dictated better than NaturallySpeaking. Aside from misinterpreting my “new paragraph” command in the beginning, the biggest problem with Docs is it tends to be Cap happy. It has a tendency to capitalize words unnecessarily.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking, on the other hand, was able to understand my paragraph commands but had several errors in transcribing my words. Twice it wrote “with them” instead of wisdom. And, the “Russian Mark” instead of question mark is a big blunder.
If All Things Were Equal
If all things were equal (and they are not), I would probably say the results were six of one and a half dozen of the other. However, all things were not equal. Here’s where the inequities come in:
Let’s talk Dragon first:
- I paid in excess of $100 for Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium edition. Not to mention that I’ve been using Dragon since 2009 and have paid for several upgrades.
- NaturallySpeaking can only be used on one computer. To use on additional computers I’ve got to purchase additional licenses.
- Before using NaturallySpeaking I had to train the software.
- If more than one person wishes to use the program, I’ll need to create separate profiles. Training is recommended for each profile.
- Every time I close the program, it takes time (sometimes a long time) to update the user profile. Doing so helps Dragon become more familiar with my speech pattern thus making transcription more accurate.
- Dragon, on my Windows PC, can only transcribe Windows compatible files. It cannot transcribe files saved in the .m4a format.
Now we’ll talk about Google Docs:
- It’s free
- Can be used on as many devices as I wish
- No training required
- No need to create profiles for multiple users
- Transcribes a variety of file formats
When you consider the less than equal playing field, I’d have to say that Google Docs is the clear winner in this competition because it’s free and versatile. Having said that, I’m too well invested in NaturallySpeaking to give it up.
But Dragon NaturallySpeaking has Other Features
What this little experiment didn’t address, however, are the other Dragon features. Dragon is a robust software and does much more than just transcribe dictation. With the software properly trained, you could pretty much operate a computer hands-free. Google Docs won’t do that, but it wasn’t created to do that.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a small, rather unscientific test. I did this because I dictate many of my articles and wanted to use the program that required the least amount of editing. As it stands now, I’ll probably use both. Google Docs is so portable that I can use it anywhere. However, when I’m home and have access to NaturallySpeaking, I’ll continue to use it. After all, I’ve already shelled out the cash to own it. Might as well get my money’s worth.