1 Focus Medical Software on the new Nuance PowerMic III

All of the Dragon users out there, especially the Dragon Medical and 360 PowerScribe users, may have heard about the much anticipated "PowerMic III" upgraded product release.  This is an upgrade of the PowerMic II hand-held USB mic which has been the preferred mic for many Dragon (Medical) users over the last 8 - 10 years.  It is a plug-n-play solution, and has been provided by VARs and hospitals alike.

There are some very notable changes to consider though:

  1. It offers the choice of two cord lengths:  9 ft. and 3 ft. options, depending on your specific setup.  Unfortunately, they are not interchangeable, so you have to choose one or the other at the time you purchase.  The Philips SpeechMike Premium can be a great alternative, if you are looking for that kind of flexibility, FYI.
  2. It replaces the prior "pointer stick" with an optical device to control cursor movement.  Since the previous pointer stick was a clear weak point, this is a significant improvement.
  3. In terms of size, it's about the same width, but clearly a bit shorter (see images below).


Accuracy and External Noise Rejection:  While comfort, functionality and compatibility with work-flow are often key drivers for hand-held microphone users, at the end of the day a microphone has to be accurate to be viable.  Here's what we can tell you from a limited testing period and feedback from clientele:

Real Life Usage:  In the setting of a physician dictation room with regular conversation and dictation in the background, it worked every bit as good as the SpeechMike Premium LFH3500.  While it's accuracy was impressive, where it really excelled was in external noise rejection.  The 3 ft. cord is a great improvement, unless you are in a fixed, desktop scenario - I would suggest the 9 ft. cord in that scenario. 





The upsides:  Like the prior version, the PowerMic III enjoys several features which make it a great choice for the medical user, including the following:

  • It includes an embedded microphone element which leads to a fairly high level of immunity from external noise. In this regard we consider it superior to every other hand-held on the market.
  • It includes unprecedented integration with all current medical versions of Dragon (both client side and cloud-based versions)
  • It includes ten programmable buttons - these can be programmed directly through a dedicated tab on the Dragon Medical options tab to do a slew of helpful things. This is a major advantage of this microphone.
  • It is the only microphone that is made with two cord lengths (3ft. or 9ft.) The cord is not exchangeable, though, so you have to make this decision up-front when you purchase.
  • It is well constructed and durable.

The downsides:  No product is perfect, and this one is no exception.  Here are the potential negatives:

  • It continues to be overpriced ($424). The alternatives (SpeechMike Premium LFH 3500, and any SpeechMike III series, along with the Olympus Direct Rec) are good products at much lower costs although don't enjoy the same integration with Dragon medical versions.
  • It has a less than stellar warranty (only 90 days). Most other hand-helds come with a 1- or 2-year warranty.
  • In our opinion it is not quite as ergonomic as the alternatives, including the Philips SpeechMike Premium and Olympus Direct Rec DR2200. We love the new optical track pad, but also think it's placed so low that it's a fairly long reach for your thumb to alternate between microphone control key and optical track pad.
  • It does not integrate with non-medical versions of Dragon (buttons are not programmable in non-medical software), with the exception of Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional in a network setting
  • It is compatible with a Mac only with some tweaking and use of additional software, although highly not recommended - you should definitely use the Philips SpeechMike Premium for that, and give us a call first to discuss the differences.

Technical Specifications:

  • OS Compatibility: Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. See below for information of Mac compatibility (only with additional software)
  • USB Compatibility: 1.1 or higher
  • Microphone frequency response: 20-16,000 Hz
  • Microphone sensitivity: not reported
  • Signal to noise ratio: +70db

the PowerMic III is a significant upgrade from the PowerMic II, most notably because of the switch to a non-mechanical track pad and the availability of a shorter cord. It is highly accurate in both real-life use and in formal bench testing.  Unique to both the PowerMic II and PowerMic III is an embedded microphone element which provides extra protection from external noise.  Both microphones also enjoy unparalleled integration with medical versions of Dragon.  I do not recommend upgrading to the PowerMic III if you are a current PowerMic II user and happy with its performance.  

If you are new to speech recognition software and are considering the purchase of a hand-held microphone to use with medical versions of Dragon, this is certainly a great choice.  For non-medical users, you are probably better off purchasing the less expensive and equally functional Philips SpeechMike Premium LFH3500.