Dictation on Surface RT

Nov 7, 2012

I mentioned in my last post about the Surface RT that, contrary to some reviews, it does have Dictation, and I used it to write that entire 2000 word article. And I promised to post a bit more about it—so here goes.

The dictation feature is an app that can be used to enter text and commands in nearly any app or program in the Surface RT. I’ve used it to write emails in the Mail app, and to write long articles in Word.

However, not everyone is going to like Surface RT’s dictation app. It is not as easy to use as dictation is on the iPhone, iPad, or Android. Why? Because there’s no little microphone button next to all your input fields like on those devices. Rather, it’s a separate program called Speech Recognition and it is hidden in the All Apps section of Surface RT—you have to open it when you want to use it (I pinned it to the Start screen for easy access). Once open, it floats above the current window—you use it on top of whatever you are writing into. It’s really more for writing several paragraphs at a time, not on-the-spot text input. But again, it works great when writing mail or when working in Word and OneNote.

By the way, this dictations app is the same speech recognition program that has been shipping with Windows for some time, the one based on Dragon Naturally Speaking. Since I happen to be a long time user of Dragon, I already know how to use it and I think it works great.

But you need to set it up and train it a bit, there’s about 15 minutes of prep before first use, so it’s not for everyone.

One advantage of this app compared to iOS and Android dictation is that this app runs locally on the Surface RT, so you don’t need to be connected and online to use it. One disadvantage though is it will not work in a noisy.environment..

Again, it’s called Speech Recognition, and you find it under the All Apps section of the Surface RT.

Michael

5 thoughts on “Dictation on Surface RT

  1. KDB

    Michael – I know this is a very old post, but thought I’d ask anyway. I have been using the speech recognition on my surface rt tablet. The problem I am encountering – it just lets me dictate one or two sentences at a time. After that, it stops to process. Essentially, it does not just allow me to speak without pauses.

    I know, RT is a limited environment, and the machine only has 2 GB of RAM. Still, I wanted to see if this was also your experience. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Michael Linenberger Post author

      KDB, I did often have some difficulties, especially in a noisy environment. But often it worked well for longish dictations. (Not using it recently since I switched to a Pro machine, so this is from memory.) Michael.

      Reply
  2. scott

    I have a child with a learning disability. He is currently using Dragon at school. It works well for him. He will need a new device next fall. I was considering the Surface2 and the SuracePro2. I am concerned that the Surface2 will not handle the voice to text without being able to install Dragon. Your comments seem to say otherwise. I am not sure which device to buy (Pro also does not come with Office)

    Reply
  3. KDB

    Scott, in my experience, the recent versions of Dragon (11.5 and 12) are quite good, and superior to the built-in dictation for Surface. That being said, Dragon does offer a Metro app, but it does not integrate into other apps – it is a “stand alone” unlike Dragon for Windows 7/8. If you can swing the extra cost, I’d go with a Surface Pro2. But, you may want to also consider a laptop. Dragon is pretty RAM hungry- my work machine runs Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, and has 8 GB of RAM – Dragon eats it up. Before shelling out a ton for the Pro2, I’d post some questions on the Pro2 board and see if anyone has specific experience with Dragon on the machine. Good Luck!

    Reply

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