It took me a while to get used to the idea of "typing" with voice recognition software. When I ordered Dragon Naturally Speaking (the most popular Windows-based software), I didn't have a lot of money to spare, so it wasn't an easy decision. Also, I was afraid I'd sound stupid talking to the computer (I was right but the cats and dogs have stopped snickering behind their paws at least).
It turned out to be worth buying the software for me, and I got over feeling stupid talking to the computer (most of the time).
Is voice recognition software for you? This list (not to be taken too seriously) might help you decide...
7 Signs It's Time to Try Voice Recognition Software
1. Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is so bad, you've got the mouse on the floor and your shoes off so you can point and click with your toes (yes, I really did this).
2. You have dyslexia and you're tired of squiggly red lines appearing under every other word you type (as long as the software can recognize your words, it can spell them).
3. You couldn't type slower if you tried. There must be something wrong with those nerds who zip along at 90 wpm and don't even have to look at the keyboard--they're probably pumped on Rockstar or something.
4. You've always dug the idea of talking to your computer and even now, you're remembering all those Star Trek episodes where they just say, "Hello, computer" and never have to weary themselves touching actual buttons.
5. You'd like to be able to take "notes" in the car without cussing because your pen flew under/between the seats, never to be seen again (for the 8374th time). Many voice recognition software packages can allow you to upload recordings you do with portable devices.
6. You have the patience to spend a couple weeks training the software to recognize your voice. You can start using it on Day 1 (my version of Dragon had me read a couple pages out loud first), but these programs do take time to learn your voice nuances. There will be more errors in your first days using it (errors that are somewhat tedious to correct).
7. You don't have cats who will chew through the cords of your headphones (been there... twice), or you're prepared to cat-proof your home office (good luck with that and let me know how it goes).
If any of these signs apply to you, and you're a PC user ready to give voice recognition a try, you can pick up Dragon from Amazon for less than $100:
That's a link to an older version--there's a 10 out, but many reviewers at Amazon are reporting technical snafus with it.
If you're a Mac user, you can give MacSpeech Dictate a try. I'll actually be buying this and checking it out soon myself, as I finally dumped my last Windows computer and bought an iMac last week.
Does anyone have experience with these programs that they'd like to share? Or are there others you've tried and liked? Please post in the comments below.