Despite the smart tutorial there is still a learning curve and, more to the point, it isn't always convenient to speak out to your PC – particularly with personal and business-related content. We also found that while Nuance talks up the ability for NaturallySpeaking 12 to block out ambient noise accuracy does fall in noisier environments, sometimes to the level that you revert to the keyboard. Whether you'd want to be using it in such environments is doubtful anyway, but it does stop v12 being used as a reliable transcribing tool which remains a holy grail for students and journalists.
We would also like to see the permanently installed toolbar automatically minimise/maximise when toggling voice recognition on or off as it wastes screen space – particularly on lower laptop resolutions. Finally it is worth taking note of the hardware specifications as dual core processors, 4GB of RAM on 64-bit operating systems and a 3.2GB installation footprint would likely rule out some older PCs and ultraportable laptops. At present support for commands in Windows 8's Modern UI are extremely limited too, but Nuance has announced it will address this with software updates.
Caveats aside there is no denying NaturallySpeaking 12 is the best version of the series to date. Furthermore as the pre-eminent voice recognition software it is quite simply the best voice recognition software for computers to date. That said with a £149.99 RRP the question for existing users is not whether it is the best, but is it worth the upgrade? For users of v10 and below the answer is a clear yes, but for owners of 11/11.5 we don't think the improvements will be enough.
Then again, for new users the answer is simple: if you have wanted to try voice recognition software and have a working/home environment which is suitable for it then Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 is quite simply the new benchmark. It has the potential to revolutionise the way you work and for those with a disability it will prove life-changing. In that context £150 is a snip.
It is arguable that despite being a point release v11.5 of NaturallySpeaking contained more new features than v12 and we are certainly talking about evolution not revolution. Hardware requirements are high, the pricing premium and it still struggles with ambient noise.
That said, NaturallySpeaking 12's voice recognition performance once again raises the bar for the industry and it is combined with better support for web email and an uncanny ability to automatically learn your formatting preferences which is a real time saver. Better, faster, smarter NaturallySpeaking 12 is exceptional, but upgraders from v11 onwards need not apply.