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The rise of generative artificial intelligence means all of us can now have writing assistants at our fingertips. With simple prompts, these tools can create original content, saving us time and, ideally, making writer’s block a thing of the past. We put nine different tools to the test, challenging them with a range of writing tasks designed to probe their capabilities and limitations. Our top picks are ChatGPT Plus (GPT-4 model), Bing, and Notion AI, with ChatGPT Plus taking the top prize.
While all three of these AI text generators are impressive, ChatGPT Plus performed the best across most tasks. Bing incorporates the same GPT-4 model as ChatGPT Plus, and it’s free, making it a great option for many users. Notion AI, an add-on to the project-management tool Notion, performed at a level below the others for the more advanced writing assignments, but its speed and ease of use place it on our list of top picks.
We originally had the winner, ChatGPT Plus, write this introduction, but we decided we could write a better intro than what it gave us. We kept a couple of its sentences, though—see if you can spot them.
Note: Over time, these tools will become increasingly incorporated into the applications we use every day, like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. So what text generator you choose may have more to do with what communication or productivity software you already use, rather than the abilities of each standalone tool.
ChatGPT Plus (GPT-4 model)
Overall, ChatGPT Plus is the strongest AI text generator of the ones we tested. It outperformed the other tools on most of the writing assignments, particularly the blog post, which was the most complex task we gave it.
- Its overall writing quality is solid.
- It’s the most creative writing tool of the ones we tested.
- It takes feedback well, adjusting its tone and format based on what you tell it.
- Its outputs can be long-winded. (You can ask it to shorten them.)
- To access information more recent than September 2021, you have to use the “Browse with Bing” feature, which is slow.
Bing is the second best text generator of the ones we tested. It outperformed ChatGPT Plus on two of the five tasks, but it didn’t perform as well on the more advanced tasks, and, in general, its outputs were less interesting and less creative.
- It’s free to use.
- It's connected to the internet, so you can use it to write about timely topics.
- Its outputs are less creative than ChatGPT Plus’.
- It’s not as responsive to feedback. For example, when we asked it to shorten one of its answers, it barely reduced its length.
Notion AI’s writing is a level below the other two, but its speed and ease of use place it on our list of top picks. Especially if you don’t already use Notion, we would recommend one of our other picks over Notion AI.
- It’s very fast.
- Since it’s built into the Notion app, it has a nice interface.
- It’s easy to use if you’re already used to Notion.
- Its overall writing quality is worse than ChatGPT Plus and Bing.
- It doesn’t have access to more recent information. For example, when we asked it to write two paragraphs about Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, it answered it as a hypothetical, ending it with, “Whatever he decides to do, it is clear that Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter would be a significant event in the tech industry and beyond.”
The market is flooded with AI text generators. Some of them, like Jasper, are explicitly meant to be writing tools. Others, like ChatGPT, are multi-purpose chatbots. While some product reviews of AI text generators exclude the second group, we decided to include them because you can get them to perform the same task: writing.
We tested each tool’s abilities with three writing assignments:
- An email to a customer, who has recently expressed dissatisfaction with a company’s service.
- The “How we chose what to review” section of this product review.
- A news item about a new Upwork survey on generative AI.
We then narrowed down our testing to the six best tools, and asked them to write two more assignments:
- A Covid policy for a company offsite.
- A blog post about generative AI and the future of work, using arguments already selected by the author.
We then chose our top three. You can find the specific prompts we used here.
Our top pick is ChatGPT Plus (GPT-4 model), which costs $20 per month. Bing, which also runs on OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, comes in second, and it’s free for users. Notion AI comes in third and costs $10 per person per month for people with Notion’s Free Plan—paid members pay the same rate to add the AI feature, but they also have the option to be billed annually at a discounted rate of $8 per person per month. Here’s how each of our picks stacks up on a few key features:
Overall writing quality: ChatGPT Plus is the leader here. For certain assignments, like the “how we chose what to review” section, we preferred the outputs of Bing and Notion AI. But ChatGPT outperformed the others for most tasks, including the blog post, which was the most challenging writing assignment we gave it. At times, the chatbot’s writing is a little goofy—e.g., “As we sail into uncharted waters in the era of artificial intelligence (AI), there's a powerful wave that's making quite a stir: generative AI.”—and its responses can be long-winded. Still, it shows an impressive ability to turn simple prompts into relatively creative content. Bing comes in second for writing quality. Notion AI’s writing, though solid, is a level below the others.
Responsiveness: One of the most important aspects of an AI text generator is how well it follows the instructions you’ve laid out for it. ChatGPT Plus is the leader here, producing creative content within the confines of each prompt. Bing comes in second, closely following most prompts, but it added a few arguments of its own to the blog post we had it make. It also barely reduced the length of one of its answers when we asked it to. Notion AI comes in third, again mostly following each prompt but occasionally adding its own arguments. For example, when we had it draft the HR policy, we told it that masking was optional. It wrote a policy that said that it was optional, but added: “We encourage you to bring a mask to the event.”
Versatility: All of our picks are very versatile, capable of generating a wide variety of content types.
Speed: Notion AI is the clear winner here, producing text at a rapid pace. ChatGPT Plus (GPT-4 model) and Bing are quite a bit slower, but they’re still fast, generally speaking. (The GPT-3.5 model, which is available to free and Plus members of ChatGPT, is faster than the GPT-4 model. However, its writing quality is lower and it's less creative.)
Interface: Notion AI is the leader here because it’s built into Notion, an easy-to-use, pleasant-looking application. Bing and ChatGPT Plus are second and third, respectively.
Also consider: If you’re a marketer looking for a writing tool with templates geared toward your needs, try Jasper. Many people will find Jasper easier to use because it has ready-made templates that require less effort and creativity from the user. If you want to make a TikTok video caption, for example, Jasper prompts you to tell it what the video is about, what tone of voice you want, and what keywords to include. In other words, you don’t have to come up with the prompt on your own. Jasper costs $39 per month billed annually for individuals. It also has a Teams option, which covers three people for the cost of $99 per month billed annually, and you can add two more users for $49 per user per month. If you need a plan for more than 5 users, Jasper tells you to contact sales about the Business plan (inquire for pricing).
Also consider Bard, Google’s answer to ChatGPT. Based on our testing, Bard does not write at the same level as ChatGPT Plus. But Bard has a nicer interface, and it appears to be more useful for research, partly because it's connected to the internet (to access up-to-date information with ChatGPT Plus, you have to select the “Browse with Bing” feature, which is much slower than Bard). Bard is also free, so it’s easy to test out.
Pricing deep dive
ChatGPT Plus currently only has one pricing plan, at $20 per month.
- OpenAI says it will release a ChatGPT Business subscription in the coming months.
- There is a free version of ChatGPT, but it doesn’t give you access to the most advanced GPT-4 model. We included the free version in our product review, and it didn’t make our top picks.
Bing is free, making it easy to test.
Notion AI has different pricing options for paid users and free users.
- If you use Notion’s Free Plan, you can add the AI feature for $10 per person per month, billed monthly.
- If you have a paid subscription to Notion with monthly billing, you can add the AI feature for $10 per person per month.
- If you have a paid subscription to Notion with annual billing, you can add on the AI feature for $8 per person per month.
Note: Each Notion account gets a limited number of free AI responses, which you can use to test it out. After that, you have to pay to add it to your plan.
How we chose what to review
We started our search by reading several product reviews and blog posts. We then applied the following criteria to winnow down the list:
- It needed to be a general-purpose writing tool. There are tools designed to write specific types of content, like sales emails or marketing material. We only reviewed tools that can generate a variety of content, such as emails, blogs, company policies, etc.
- The tool had to have a prompt feature. One of the great things about generative AI is the ability to specify in detail the type of output you’re looking for. We only looked at tools with this feature.
- The tool needed to be able to generate original content, not just improve existing content through editing or paraphrasing.
(This section was written by Bing, edited by Charter.)
A note on privacy:
- Notion is GDPR compliant, and its AI feature follows the app’s standard data-protection practices.
- Bing is GDPR compliant.
- ChatGPT Plus improves by training on the conversations it has with people. Users can opt out by turning off “Chat history and training” in their settings. We would still suggest refraining from sharing personal or sensitive data. (For an example of a privacy-minded approach to using the chatbot, see the guidelines from the United States House Committee on House Administration, which recently approved the use of ChatGPT Plus with the privacy setting enabled but prohibits employees from entering sensitive data.)
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