Before we get into the details of what Transcription Panda offers, let’s clearly outline the service we’re evaluating here.
Our transcription service apps series evaluates the features, pricing options, competition, and overall value of using each service.
However, these are not complete practical assessments, as evaluating a service based on one-time performance is not objective. Since this is a human based solution, how good the transcription is will be based entirely on the performance of a single individual and their functionality on the day.
Obviously, these services aim to provide a level of service, but it’s up to the customers to judge whether that’s good enough for their purposes.
Transcription Panda is a US-based operation that started in 2016 and already has more than 1,500 regular customers in more than ten countries.
In addition to transcription, it also offers translations and prides itself on providing short turnaround times for both services.
Transcription Panda claims to offer transparent, simple upfront pricing with no hidden fees and no additional fees.
There are only two levels of quality referred to as ‘Rough Draft’ and ‘Final Draft’.
Rough Draft is only available with a 5 day turnaround time, but Final Draft can take between 24 hours, 2 or 5 business days depending on the client’s requirement.
If Rough Draft is good enough for business data, it can process it for as little as $0.79 per minute, making it one of the cheapest human transcription services available.
For those who want higher quality, the Final Draft service starts at $0.95, goes up to $1.20 for 2 business days and $2.40 for 24 hours.
As evidenced by that outage, the 24-hour service also includes weekends and even national holidays in the US.
In addition to the basic cost of the service, there are several add-ons available. Timestamps are an additional $0.25, literal transcription costs $0.30, bad audio incurs a $0.50 overhead, and you can have translations for $2.00 per minute of transcription.
Enterprise customers with more than 10,000 minutes of audio can get bulk pricing options.
Unlike some other services, there is no cost difference between video and audio as a source for the transcription.
Purely from a price point of view, this is a remarkably cheap service.
How it works
This solution is completely web-based and involves filling out an order form on the Transcription Panda website, uploading the files to process and selecting the quality of service you want to use.
One nice feature we noticed with the file upload functionality is that you can link to files already in the cloud, speeding up the process considerably for those who store audio with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or another connectable cloud provider.
The types of audio and video that are accepted include MP3, MP4, M4A, WMV, WAV, MOV, AVI, AIF, ASF, VOB, AMR and WMA1. But if you have audio in an alternative form, this company will try to help you transcribe it.
The question, based purely on the cost that most customers want to know, is how the Rough Draft service differs in quality from Final Draft.
Raw draft transcripts are simple. Individual speakers are not identified, but when the speaker changes, a new paragraph is created. If it is a single speaker, paragraphs are used as they would normally be to define natural speaking.
What is missing are any filler words (um’s and ah’s), and the fastest way to get this quality back is five working days.
Impressively, the quality is generally high even with Rough Draft service, with a specified accuracy in the 90-95% range, and more typically a 97% accuracy.
Final Drafts costs more, but it includes basic speaker labels, has options for timestamps, full verbatim representations (including filler words), and it can be translated.
The stated accuracy for Final Draft is 98-100%, making it the choice for those where faithful audio to text conversion is part of the requirement.
Once transcribed, the content is sent back to the customer as a Word document, with Final Draft customers having the choice of a simplified or verbatim layout.
For those who want translation in addition to transcription, this service can translate audio into all major languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, French, German, Russian, and Portuguese, just to name a few.
In many ways, Transcription Panda seems to have hit a sweet spot where it’s small enough to provide its customers with that personalized ‘small business’ service, but they also deliver a cost-effective solution.
It’s the kind of operation that we hope won’t misplace those values as success grows significantly.
For those who need effective transcription, the cost model is simple and the service is both high quality and very affordable.
As a service, Transcription Panda seems to have many enthusiastic customers who say very positive things about their experience.
Any service that involves people is likely to experience some degree of variation, but the overall impression of Transcription Panda is of high standards that are effectively maintained.
Before starting a full project to use this service, we recommend a trial schedule where you can experience the quality in both Rough and Final, and some of the options applied to see if what works best for your needs.
If appropriate, the low cost of this service can make transcription a part of your business process without the need to hire staff to do this work and manage them accordingly.