I'd been getting pretty fed up with the Bluetooth microphone, which was included with the Bluetooth edition of Dragon which I bought back in 2008.The Bluetooth didn't fit me very well, and as it was an over the ear Model rather than a headband model, tended to drift out of alignment. Consistent microphone position is actually very important for recognition, so using Dragon involved much fighting with the software correcting the recognition errors. I still found it very useful for some things, most notably entering data into LibraryThing, but failed to get around to reinstalling it after I had to reformat and reinstall Windows last year.
The headset I was issued with at work to use with Dragon as part of my return to work support turned out to be much, much better. By the end of the first day, the error rate on the copy at work was already as good as on the copy at home, which by then I'd already been training for over a month. Some of that was obviously just down to the computer at work being much newer and therefore higher specced, but within a few days I was sure that some of it was the headset. So I went ahead and ordered one to use at home.
What I actually ordered was the stereo version, because I thought that would be slightly more comfortable to wear than the mono version that I had at work. I dithered a bit, because I was concerned that using a stereo set might block out outside sounds, such as a phone ringing elsewhere in the house. But I'm glad I went for the stereo version, because they are slightly more comfortable to wear, at least with reading glasses on, and they're not designed to block out outside sound.
The headset in question is the Andrea NC185 VM USB
, which includes an on-board sound card in the USB dongle. Andrea also do a companion piece of software which you have to download from their website rather than it being included in the box. Weirdly, while I didn't need to install it on the computer at work to get the headset to work with Dragon, I did need to use it on the ThinkPad before I could get the sound levels adjusted to be compatible with Dragon.
One doesn't expect to have to install drivers for something like a mike. Once I'd got past that little hurdle...
Even with having to set up a new input device on my Dragon profile, it was, out of the box, a clear improvement over the Bluetooth. I would very much benefit from buying a new laptop with the muscle to run Dragon at speed, but the fifty pounds invested in this headset makes it feasible to put off the laptop replacement for a while. The Bluetooth is still going to be useful for travel purposes, because it's much smaller and easier to pack, and it has the obvious advantage for some uses of not tethering me to the computer (although the Andrea comes with an 8 feet cable). But the Andrea is my primary headset from now on.
The other advantage of the Andrea is that the software comes with a sound recorder, which might come in handy as a substitute for a dictaphone. More later on why that's of interest to me.