Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium Review

Updated April 30, 2013
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium
Bottom Line

Casual users who have recently been exposed to mobile apps like iPhone's Siri or Vlingo haven't seen anything like Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium. This truly intuitive and sophisticated voice-command software has a remarkable ability to accurately identify spoken words and quickly transcribe them to text. Its intelligent features allow it to improve each time you use it.

Ease of use

Once mastered, you'll never want to type again. Though training is quicker than with earlier versions, it will take some effort to get going with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium, especially if you've never used speech-recognition technology before. There are excellent tutorials available, and onscreen tips will guide you through, but even the savviest of users will need to put some energy into learning how to maximize its effectiveness. Plan to spend some time with the initial setup, though it can be completed in increments.

ProsHighly accurate dictation, Excellent new tutorial, Fast and intuitiveConsLearning curve, Requires a lot of computer memory

Even an inexperienced user can do simple dictation almost immediately, but the more time you invest in tweaking things, the better results you'll get down the road. Reviewers agree that this will pay off in the long run, especially for features like voice commands, which are harder to master. Lamont Wood from Computerworld says that once you've figured it out, "keyboarding seems painfully primitive."

The screen design is minimalist and clean. Once you've learned the commands and can navigate easily through a dictation, editing is easy and straightforward. You can even navigate through computer programs, though this takes some time to learn to control, so those who are capable of using a physical mouse might want to have one available as backup. But the option for voice control is a great feature for those who might need it.


Highly accurate and responsive. Reviewers agree that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium is extremely accurate and fast. One even suggests that any errors the software makes are usually attributed to poor dictation. PCMag.com says, "Intelligent features allow the software to become smarter the more you use it, by looking for words in context."

If you do everything right, 99 percent accuracy is possible; realistically you'll see more like 96 to 98 percent. It's quick, too, taking your speech and translating it to text nearly instantaneously. Corrections are easy to make with menus and pop ups that guide you through words and sentences.

The microphone provided is good, but you'll need to be in a relatively quiet setting because it can pick up things like background chatter, pets, furniture noise and throat clearing. This doesn't always confuse the software, but you may be asked to repeat yourself if your surroundings are not ideal. If you typically work in a noisy environment, upgrading to a better microphone and headset may be a wise investment.


Dragon knows what you need before you even know you need it. The possibilities are vast, and you will likely find that you can use this software in ways you never thought possible. Lecturers can use it to close-caption their speeches. PCMag.com reviewer Jill Duffy found the software especially helpful for transcribing.

Dictation is recorded as you go, and the playback feature allows you to compare the output, which is useful if there is some trouble with recognition and you aren't sure exactly what you originally said. There is also a Read Back feature, which is good for proofreading , as you are more likely to hear an error than see it.

Features new in this version include more navigation options for email programs like Gmail and Hotmail, as well as auto formatting for postal addresses. To support all the new features, you'll need to make sure your operating system is up to the task. A lot of memory is required. We've included a detailed listing of those requirements in the spec chart.

Our Sources

1. Computerworld.com

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium Review: Accurate Voice Recognition, Lamont Wood, Nov. 28, 2012

The Computerworld reviewer has worked with speech-recognition software for almost 20 years, and has reviewed several versions of the technology. Performance was tested objectively using a manually typed section of text compared to software dictation of the same. The software was four times faster and more accurate.

2. PC Advisor

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium Review, Matt Egan, Oct. 30, 2012

Britain's PC Advisor gives Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Editors say the new version brings very little new to the table, but it remains the benchmark for voice-recognition software.

3. PCMag.com

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium, Jill Duffy, Sept. 14, 2012

Dragon gets an Editors' Choice from PCMag.com. The reviewer compares it to Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium, and says that both products are excellent. Though v12 is very intuitive, it might not make sense to upgrade if you are already using the older version, based on the cost and lack of any truly groundbreaking new features.

4. The Register.co.uk

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 Voice-recognition software Review: Give Your PC a Hearing Aid, Simon Williams, Sept. 10, 2012

The reviewer for this British publication has good things to say about Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium, and he suggests that while mobile apps have become trendy, the best voice-recognition software exists in the PC domain. He compares DNS 12 Premium to its predecessors and other popular programs.

5. TrustedReviews.com

Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Review, Gordon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2012

TrustedReviews.com gives Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium an overall rating of 9 out of 10 stars. Gordon Kelly pits it against older versions, saying, "we are certainly talking about evolution not revolution." Landmark improvements would require lower hard drive requirements, better tuning out of ambient noise and a lower price.

6. ZDNet.com

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Premium Review, Sandra Vogel, Sept. 14, 2012

Sandra Vogel is impressed by the 100 additional features that Nuance added to Version 12, but she acknowledges that the casual user won't find much benefit from these, and the time to learn how to use everything can be cumbersome. The software was extensively tested on performance and compared to its earlier versions.

7. The Seattle Times

Speech-recognition Software Now Faster, More Accurate Than Ever, Patrick Marshall, March 23, 2012

A professional journalist familiar with using voice-recognition software reviews Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5, comparing it to other iterations of the same software. He says he does not think Microsoft's voice recognition applications are worth reviewing in the same context as Dragon, which offers a far superior product.

8. Sydney Morning Herald

Your Words Are Its Commands: This Voice-recognition Program Walks the Walk and Talks the Talk, Charles Wright, Dec. 6, 2012

Digital Life columnist Charles Wright compares Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 to its previous versions. The software was tried out and tested, though not compared to other competitors.

9. EByline.com

3 Options for Voice-recognition software, Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro, Feb. 8, 2012

Blogger Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro writes three very short blurbs about different voice-recognition software options: Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Windows Speech Recognition and The MacSpeech Scribe. No specific testing or sources were cited.