Wanted:  A reporter who has used (not just demo'd) the Diamante and the Passport.

I'm not starting a war here.  :-)  Can anyone give a little feedback on the difference between the two?  I understand it's personal preference, of course.

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Elsa,

 

I used both.  My preference overall for being the easiest on me physically is the Lightspeed, but I just couldn't get my untrans low enough with it.

 

Used the Passport.  It was pretty good for less finger fatigue, but not as good as the Lightspeed in that area.  I really liked the Passport feel and short stroke depth.  Had issues with the company and their support service both on repairing the writer and their cost of support.  It was difficult to get a loaner from them, the loaners were in poor working condition.  Audio quality on Passport not very good.  Also, the audio from the Passport, when I had it last year, would not sync up in Catalyst to its note file.  If I could choose between the Passport and Diamante for the purely easier on my hands and arms, I'd choose the Passport. 

 

I have had the Diamante for now for almost a year.  Stenograph's customer support is far better and cheaper.  The Diamante has a really nice touch and I like the machine itself better than the Passport.  Audio quality is great, use of it's menus and key adjustments are great.  It's easier on my fingers and hands than the Mira was, but not as easy on me as the Lightspeed and Passport.

 

Hope that helps.

Okay.  Call me crazy, but I bought both of them this last year.  I spent over $10,000 on both of them.  That was not my plan but I absolutely hated the Passport.  My RT writing went down the drain.  The keys would show up that my fingers did not even come close to hitting.  I struggled with that writer for about five months and then decided to sell it.

 

I then purchased the Diamante and now am very happy.  I can take RT jobs again.  The real difference is it took me a good three months before I would take the Passport out on a RT job.  I took the Diamante out of the box and went on a RT job the very next day.  Huge difference.

The first thing you should know is that my final decision was to go with the Diamante and I’m happy with that decision.  The second thing is that although I am an Eclipse user, I am *not* a Stenograph hater.  The final thing is that I absolutely DESPISE the Stenograph-versus-Eclipse threads that seem to pop up every so often, so I hope nothing I say here will incite that kind of an exchange.

I had been on some form of Stenograph writer since I began my career in 1975.  Several years ago, when Eclipse started their “first 100 list” (the list where if you signed up and were among the first 100, you would receive a discount on the purchase of a Passport) I signed up. 

I then began the wait for the Passport to be released and finally reached the point where I needed to purchase a machine to replace the one I had used for many years.  At that point the Passport was not available, so I purchased a used Mira.  No sooner had I done that than I received the long-awaited call saying that the Passport was ready.

I purchased the Passport. 

Initial impressions were that it was big, bulky, and ugly.  However, I knew that going in but was still surprised at its overall size.  I had a Stenograph Pirouette case at that point and the Passport was a very tight fit in that case and that really brought home the difference in overall size because I knew what the Mira looked like in the case as compared to the Passport.  Again, not a deal-breaker for me but I’m just pointing out that it is larger.

My second observation was that the buttons (the on/off row of buttons – not the actual steno keys) seems “plasticky” and kind of “wobbly” when I pushed on them.

Third thing was that the boot-up time of the machine seemed a little long.

Again, none of these were real deal-breakers but probably more disappointing.  However, it seems that all machines available at this point, in their quest for reducing weight, have gone to lighter-weight materials and sometimes those feel “cheaper,” when in reality I don’t know if they really are.

Back to the size of the machine, once I had it mounted on the tripod and adjusted it to writing height, I noticed it would not always fit underneath the conference room table at a deposition.  Then it occurred to me that one of the ways in which it is larger is that its overall height is taller than other machines.  So, if I adjusted the keyboard to the correct height for me to write comfortably, that meant that the back of the machine (the part furthest away from me), since it increases in height as you go from front to back, was just enough higher that it wouldn’t slip under the table.

So,  I then turned on the machine and began to go through the keystroke depth/tension/sensitivity settings.

There are two wheels/knobs which roll to make the depth and tension adjustments.    One is located on either side of the machine, just on the underside of the steno keyboard.  My issue with those is that they don’t have any “notches” but you just roll them smoothly until you reach your desired adjustment.  That would be fine if they weren’t positioned where they are, but what I found was that I would sometimes grab the machine to move it or pick it up and inadvertently “roll” one or both of those wheels/knobs and then I would have to readjust the settings.

In general, the setting of the sensitivities of the keys was an easy process and could be done on the fly.  HOWEVER, finding the baseline from which to start the adjustment was the difficult part of the adjustment.  Probably my biggest complaint is that there are few, if any, instructions ANYWHERE as to how to accomplish the adjustments.  In fairness, Greg Seely and others have been helpful on the Eclipse Forum with helping people with the adjustments but I still think it would be helpful if instructions were provided up front.

Finally, the Bluetooth on the Passport is great.  In fact, it was much easier to pair with my laptop than the Diamante has been.  In terms of the feature, the Passport wins in my book.

Now for the Diamante.

The size overall is smaller and more streamlined WHEN THE SCREEN IS FOLDED IN THE STORED POSITION.  However, when you lift the screen (which you have to do to write on the machine) it obviously changes it to be less streamlined.  I would personally like to see the screen be reduced by at least 50% in size and that it be stationary rather than movable.    I have run into the same issue of not being able to scoot it under conference tables (like the Passport) because of the increased height of the machine with the screen open.

The weight of the Diamante is less, and the weight of its tripod is less, than the Passport.  If you look at the printed specs for each you will notice that the difference is small, but to me it is noticeable.

The Diamante’s Bluetooth is inferior, as I said, to the Passport.  On the Diamante, Stenograph says that it won’t support any Bluetooth (like the onboard Bluetooth that comes with many laptops these days) except BlueSoleil, which is what they sell.  It is true that the BlueSoleil works seamlessly.  However, using BlueSoleil means that you have to use a Bluetooth dongle in the laptop and one in the machine.  With the Passport, you just need one in the machine.  What that means is that you have to take up one of your USB ports on your computer for the Bluetooth and nowadays having enough USB ports can be important.  Just something to think about.

The touch of the two machines are, for all intents and purposes, equally adjustable and so similar that I personally don’t consider that even a valid consideration when comparing the two.  In general, I find the Diamante easier to adjust; however, like Advantage, Stenograph doesn’t provide very clear direction about how to adjust the key sensitivities.  So each of the companies fails in that regard in my opinion.  The one disadvantage to the key adjustments on the Diamante is that you have to make the adjustment, then shut down and restart the machine, before the adjustment will take effect.  On the Passport, adjustments are done on the fly so there’s no shutdown/restart required.

Bottom line conclusion.

To me, the decision came down to customer service and support.  I think Advantage is a good company but they just don’t have the experience with manufacturing machines and supporting the customer after the sale of the machines.  I personally had issues with getting clear answers from support, and sending the machine in for service took an inordinate amount of follow-up and was not without its difficulties. 

I know the same could be said of others’ experience with Stenograph.  However, my experience with Advantage shook my confidence that I could count on them in a real time of crisis (which inevitably happens to us all) and my experience with Stenograph has always been consistent and solid in terms of providing reliable and timely support.  In the end, I feel like they’ll be there when I need them and that is very important to me.

Again, these are simply my thoughts and are not meant to do anything but reflect my experience.  I hope they’re taken in that light.  

Chuck,

 

If you liked the Passport, then why did you change to the Diamante?  I am just curious.  These writers are expensive and wondered why you switched.  Sounds like it was just a customer service issue.  That was true for Kerry, as well. 

 

I do agree with you Advantage is new in the writer arena and has a long way to go before they will even come close to making a great machine.  However, I love, love their software and will be an Eclipse user for life!!

I guess I wasn't as clear as I had hoped.

 

Yes, it boiled down to a customer service issue and my lack of confidence that I would be supported in terms of the machine.  

For me (and again, I'm not speaking for anyone but myself), the two machines were comparable enough that I could clearly make my decision based on which company I felt had the stronger track record for support.

I, too, am a happy Eclipse software user.

Thanks, everyone, for the input here. 

Chuck, you did well in not making it a CAT war.  You're right that it's personal preference and opinion.  I appreciate yours as well as those of everyone else.  :-)

I have not used the Passport for jobs, but I've tried it out many times.  I just bought my second Diamante.  One sentiment that I will echo here is that I have been reporting for over 30 years.  Let's leave the final number nonspecific!  But I absolutely must have the perfect touch when I write.  I've used the Stentura, Mira, Stylus, and now Diamante, all Stenograph products.  I've t-r-i-e-d the Gemini (even bought one) and I've t-r-i-e-d other writers, but because I'm so dependent on having that same familiar feel of the keys, that's why I think I've liked the Stenograph writers.  In my opinion, the Diamante can't be beat.  Elsa, you should talk to Barb Devico.  She's used both the Passport and the Diamante for work and could give great feedback.  It is my personal preference, but I will also mention that I am an Eclipse user but just bought Stenograph's Case CATalyst software as well.

 

M.A.

Mary Ann, may I ask why you wanted the CC Software, too?

 

Thanks,

 

Judy

Yeah, I am curious about that too, Mary Ann.  Why buy CC software when you are on Eclipse?  Can't imagine why you would need two.
She's just an overachiever, I think!  LOL.

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