The best reviews of voice recognition software cover all the alternatives in what are several distinct one-horse races. Almost every reviewer reaches the conclusion that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 is by far the best third-party voice recognition software program. Testers achieve an average of about 97 percent accuracy, even without training. However, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is extremely demanding of even state-of-the-art computers. It requires Windows 7, XP, Vista or Windows Server 2003 or 2008, along with a bare minimum of 1 to 2 GB of RAM (depending on the version) and 2.5 GB of free hard-drive space. This means that your system will partially dictate which speech recognition program is best for you.
For Windows users, the only true competitor for Dragon NaturallySpeaking is Windows Speech Recognition, software that's included in all versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Though Windows Speech Recognition suffered some early missteps, reviewers comparing the current version of Windows Speech Recognition to NaturallySpeaking are largely impressed by Windows' program; a very few even prefer Windows Speech Recognition to Dragon, although the majority find that NaturallySpeaking is definitely -- if marginally -- superior.
If you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista or plan to upgrade soon, reviews indicate that Windows Speech Recognition is more than adequate for casual, moderate use (it's expected that Windows Speech Recognition will be also included in Windows 8, expected to ship near the end of 2011). If you're a heavy user of speech recognition, particularly if you will rely on it for advanced editing and system command functions, experts overwhelmingly conclude that NaturallySpeaking 11 is worth the investment.
We found several excellent reviews of voice recognition software. TopTenReviews.com usually doesn't rate very highly with us, but it does a good job in this category, with individual reviews for the top voice recognition contenders, cross-referenced on a matrix that allows for easy comparison of features and editorial ratings. Windows Speech Recognition is inexplicably omitted from this ranking chart, which includes just three products, but senior editor Lecia Monsen covers it in a decent supplemental review. An older review by PCMag.com's Michael Muchmore conducts a comprehensive and balanced head-to-head analysis of the older NaturallySpeaking 10 and Windows Speech Recognition, which is useful for seeing overall how Windows Speech Recognition holds up to Nuance's offerings.
Both David Pogue of The New York Times and Nate Anderson of ArsTechnica.com deliver strong standalone reviews of multiple voice recognition programs, and although neither perform direct comparative tests, each comments on how the tested software stacks up against its competitors. Macworld offers short but descriptive reviews of the two major mobile dictation apps, and Amazon.com is a top destination for user-written reviews.