Some Speech to Text Options for Writers

As I mentioned before, I needed to make time for writing if I wanted to write anything. I had already tracked my time to find areas where I could cut back on time wasters and found myself lacking. But I did have 2-3 hours of commute time that I could use. So now I needed to find a hands-free way to record audio and transcribe my speech to text.

Searching online for speech-to-text or dictation options will generally bring up a lot of the same suggestions because most people only need dictation on-the-go for short e-mails and text messages. So you’ll find suggestions to use the built-in speech-to-text features in your smart phone, and some free apps that will also do speech-to-text.

I have an Android and I do agree that the built-in speech-to-text feature is pretty accurate. The problem is that it only records 30 seconds at a time before you have to push the “record” button again. If I were on a walk, then this is actually perfect because I tend to dictate in 30 second bursts anyway and then stop to think. The other free mobile apps that I tried were similar: Speech to Text (AndroidforAll), ListNote (Khymaera), Voice to Text for Multi-Apps (Dalianhank), Speech Notes (WellSource), and Dragon Mobile Assistant (Nuance). Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and I tried to give each one a fighting chance to see if they would work for what I needed.

Mostly I discovered was how much I could actually dictate on a 15 minute break at work. The numbers were inspiring (~50 wpm, I type at 62 wpm last I checked) so I kept looking for options.

Speech Notes was actually the most promising of the group because it records until you press pause or turn off the app. It also allows you to save notes (unlike Speech to Text), and to e-mail them or send them to OneNote or Google Drive. Unfortunately Speech Notes fell short in that it doesn’t save audio. If I dictate in the car where I can’t baby-sit the screen and Speech Notes transcribes something crazy (and it will when you transcribe in the car) I don’t have a way of figuring out what in the world I was trying to say later.

I realized that I needed something that would transcribe my speech while also keeping the audio so I could make corrections later. That’s where Dragon Naturally Speaking came in. DNS is expensive, but well worth the price for people that will be using all of its features. My problem is that I don’t have time to be at my computer in the first place let alone time to sit and order it around. I only need access to the audio transcription feature which is only available on Dragon Premium, which is 100 dollars more expensive than Dragon Home.

My father says that I can squeeze a quarter until the eagle poops, and he’s right. I don’t like to waste money– it had better be worth it when I spend it. I’m sure there are other software programs out there, but I know people who have had proven success with Dragon and I  am unwilling to shell out a bunch of money on something that I haven’t seen in action. So, I eventually resigned myself to the fact that I would need to get DNS Premium and started shopping for voice recorders. That was when I discovered that Philips has a little digital voice recorder that also comes with Dragon’s audio transcription software. This is not the full version of Dragon, only the audio transcription part… which is exactly what I needed.

Again, I don’t like to waste money, so I read the Amazon reviews of the product to try and get a feel for it. Many people assumed (though I’m not sure why) that the software was the full version of Dragon. It is not and it doesn’t say that it is. Some people also said that the product didn’t work with Windows 10, but others said it did. Eventually I decided that this was something that was worth the money to try out, especially with a decent return policy.

Hopefully this will be just what I need, otherwise I’m back to square one and still not writing.


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