Dictate2us Transcribes Audio Notes by Hand

Dictate2us is an audio transcription service designed for doctors, lawyers, and other professionals whose job requires the use of voice memos. Unlike Dragon Dictation, which uses server software to analyze the audio and convert it to text, d2u sends the file to a trained transcriber.

The Service

The turn around times are guaranteed to be less than 60 minutes for notes five minutes in length and shorter, and 24 hours for longer notes. The pricing is $2.25 “per dictated minute”, not by the time it takes to transcribe. So whether a twenty minute audio note takes two hours or four hours to transcribe, it will cost you the same.

I put the service through a series of rigorous tests, starting with an excerpt from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was transcribed perfectly.

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this. Most of the people living on it were unhappy the pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Since it is being transcribed by a human and not a robot, there were obviously no problems with Stephan Fry’s British accent.

Next up was a binary string, also transcribed perfectly.

01101101 01110101 01101100 01110100 01101001 01110100 01101111 01110101 01100011 01101000 01100110 01100001 01101110 01110011 00101110 01100011 01101111 01101101

My final test was a song I uploaded, “The Distance” by Cake. I’m not sure if the transcriber Googled the lyrics to confirm them or if it was done completely by hand, but regardless, it was once again 100 percent accurate.

Another thing to note is that when you receive the transcription, it is usually formatted correctly. Eg. the lyrics were in stanza form and the binary numbers were separated into bytes. On the website there are many tips on how to dictate effectively, from spelling out names to specifying punctuation and new paragraphs.

The service offers encryption, and states that the transcribers work in a controlled environment and have no means to copy the audio. Dictate2us seems extremely serious about confidentiality, and I would personally trust them with all but my most private information.

Memos can be transcribed 24/7, 365 days a year; perfect for those with a busy schedule. It is designed for professionals, and while the costs can add up it can still be much cheaper than a secretary or personal typist. Dictate2us is a large company that has been around since 2003, so they know what they are doing and seem to be very reliable.

The App

The app itself is well designed and offers a wide variety of settings, including password protection and the ability to connect to bluetooth devices. There are two methods of recording, “Express Mode” and the standard dictate mode.

The standard mode gives additional options, such as the ability to categorize and rename the memo, as well as seeking to specific times in the recording and appending audio.While I was using the standard mode, I had the application force quit on me a few times before I was able to save the memo, so the file was lost. (After restarting the app, I could not replicate this issue, so it could have been a one-time thing.) Express mode didn’t have any issues.

Express mode turns the entire screen into a tap-able area to start the recording, and automatically saves it when you tap it again. Audio recorded in Express mode can also be renamed in the “Recordings” tab, which lists all of your notes and allows you to manage and upload them.

The app uploads directly to the servers, and the finished transcription will be emailed directly to you, so there are no unneeded steps involved. From within the accounts tab, you can view available credit, or purchase more using many different payment options.

The service itself is excellent, and incredibly useful for those who need it. The app provides a great frontend, and eliminates the need for a digital recorder if you already have an iPhone. The app itself is free, and available in the App Store.


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