Computer Specifications And VR In The Workplace

Question: PACTS have finally said yes to VR software – Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred. They have specified computer specifications but my employer is currently saying these are higher than Dragon’s recommended specs (e.g. 200 Mhz, 32 Mb ram.) and are holding up the process (again!) I believe that Dragon would specify lower specs because a) Wider market base to sell the product b) These specs may not be for intensive use of the software at work.

Can anyone tell me what they would think would be the realistic minimum specs (processor, memory and hard disk) to operate the software productively at work? I’m on a network, Win 95 and use WordPerfect 8, Excel 5 and Netscape e-mail (i.e. these are my three main packages).  What sound card have people found to be good? Fortunately, I have my own office.  Is there a general VR web-site with this info or maybe a VR mailing list similar to this one?

Answer 1: I use Dragon Preferred version 3.5…it works poorly on a Pentium 166 with 64 megs ram. It works ok on a 200 mghz Pentium II with 96 meg ram, but dictation is slow and somewhat tedious with too many recognition errors. It works well on a 400 mghz Pentium II with 128 meg ram. It would work better on a fast Pentium III, with less training time, faster word recognition, and I would expect less mistakes.

Answer 2: Dragon’s recommended specs are normally the minimum for the system to work. This may not be powerful enough.  I would go for a Pentium III as this has specific instructions built into the chip for voice recognition. These will be used in the latest versions of Dragon, although they may not be available yet. Perhaps Judy Evans can comment on this?

Answer 3: I’m using this edition with a 200MHz processor and 256 MB RAM . . . but even so, if *really* slows down when I have Word open – whether I’m dictating in Word, or whether Word is just running minimized. I can only conclude that Word must gobble up *huge* amounts of memory and processing power.  I now use Dragon in its own window with everything else closed (and then save it into whatever application I want when I’ve finished), and it zips along.

I’ve done all the training routines with it, had it scan all my Word files, trained it with a few words it was having problems with – and it now makes very few errors, and goes as fast as I can think and speak good prose!  On days when I’m tired, or towards the end of the day, or when I’m not concentrating, I notice its error rate increases – so my enunciation must be less clear when I’m fatigued.

Answer 4: My employer has just authorized DragonNaturallySpeaking Professional 3.52 for me. I’m not really very much of an IT techie but I understand from looking at postings in the voice-users mailing group that although the computer requirements for Preferred and Professional are the same, Preferred does not have macro capabilities.  Having been using DragonDictate (stone-age version 2.0) I know how very useful it is to be able to make one’s own macros, and how much keyboarding they save me in the day.


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