Highly rated and intuitive Suite 8, speech software harmonize

Pros and cons:
+        Speech processing speeds up word
+        Lots of extras in the package
–        Separate installation required for speech

Real-life requirements:
Win95 or Windows NT, 133-MHz or faster processor, 64M RAM, 60M free on hard drive

Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 makes a perfect match with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, from
Natural Speech Co. of Newton, Mass.

The Dragon-bundled version of Suite 8 keeps all its office suite functions intact,
augmented by hands-free communication with the computer. It’s one more extra in an
already feature-packed suite.

Suite 8 and NaturallySpeaking [GCN, Aug. 25, 1997, Page 1], [GCN, Aug. 25, 1997, Page 39] both received B+ grades from other GCN
reviewers. My question was, how well do the two work together?

Installing the Corel suite was no problem. But I could find no control panel for the
Dragon program. I checked the microphone to make sure it was connected, but try as I
might, I could not get NaturallySpeaking to launch.

Summoning aid from another GCN reviewer, I scoured the installation CD-ROM looking for
the Dragon files. We even reinstalled the entire program, figuring I could have forgotten
to check something during the custom setup.

At last we examined the CD-ROM case and found a Dragon installation disk hidden under
the Corel disk’s backing. That type of packaging is not unusual, but I had assumed
the Dragon program would install as part of the Corel package. It didn’t.

The reason Corel could not fit the 80M Dragon installation program on the main disk is
that the office suite is so packed with extras, only 70M remains free on the CD-ROM. That
said, a note in the first installation program prompting me to insert the second disk
would have been simple and time-saving. I’ll bet I’m not the only one wondering
why Dragon remains inactive after the suite has installed.

Once the programs were running together, the advantage of having Dragon in the suite
became clear. It processed the subtleties in my voice in less than 30 minutes of reading
into the microphone.

As soon as Dragon thought it knew me, it processed my new voice commands in less than
15 minutes on a Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. Equium 7000S with 266-MHz Pentium
II processor.

The included microphone-headphone combination was sensitive enough to detect whispers.
The attached headphone speaker sounded good, though I wish headphone manufacturers would
put in two speakers, one for each ear. That way, users could feel more like members of the
plugged-in work force rather than World War II radio operators.

The voice command features were smartly programmed to save time. And most of the
commands were exactly what you would expect, so I rarely needed the enclosed quick
reference sheet.

Saying “Caps on,” for instance, activated the Caps Lock key.

Unlike other speech recognition programs, the Dragon-WordPerfect combination almost
always knew when I was speaking a command and did not annoyingly insist on typing the
words “New paragraph” when I wanted it to double-space and indent.

WordPerfect Suite 8’s main component is the word processor that does
what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing of Hypertext Markup Language documents. You also get
the Quattro Pro 8 spreadsheet manager and Corel Presentations 8, which can exploit a
Pentium MMX processor to display slide shows fast.

CorelCentral is an excellent schedule manager and lets users hold real-time
conversations over the Internet. The voice conferencing worked well and, in the absence of
bad Internet lag, might save some offices a bundle on long-distance connection charges.

One of Corel’s signature design programs, Corel Photo House, also is part of the
bundle with a generous supply of clip art. On a separate CD, this one in its own case, you
get a copy of the Grolier Interactive 1998 Multimedia Encyclopedia.

The suite and the Dragon software each earned high B grades separately. Standing
shoulder to shoulder, I found that both products reached a little higher.  

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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