Looking for a new writer, and I found one

So the other day, I had to stop the depo bec. there was this very loud beeping noise coming from God only knows where.  Oh, yeah, it was me.  What's going on?  Am I about to crash?  Nope.  My disk was full and I had to end job soon!!!!

Okay.  So I say, I just need a quick second to change out my floppy, at which all the attorneys in the room mocked me for using floppies.    So there's one reason to get a new writer.

Second reason - I am on Eclipse and I will be upgrading to Eclipse 5 sometime this year.  While I'm going through a shakeout period, I would like a writer that has onboard audio that will sync in case my computer freezes up.

Third reason - newer laptops are no longer being built with the Expresscard.  It's usb all the way.  My writer is currently serial to usb or expresscard.  I need a new writer that is usb to usb or has blue tooth or something more modern than serial to Expresscard.   The Expresscard is not seated very tightly and has been knocked loose during depo which involves rebooting Eclipse in order to start a new file.  Not fun.

So now that I've talked myself into wanting a writer, which one?  Hmm, decisions, decisions.

Lucky me, the DRA Convention was this past weekend.  So I hauled MY laptop, MY microphone, My cables to the vendor hall and visited each vendor that I was interested in.   


ProCat  - maker of the Flashwriter (this was the one where they yanked out the innards of your Stentura and put in new innards), looked exactly like a Stentura.   This morphed into the Stylus.  And the latest generation is the Impression.

Eclipse - maker of the Passport, the first writer put out by this company.  As I mentioned, I do have Eclipse software.

Neutrino Group - they started off with the Piper which morphed into the   Revolution Grand and the latest and greatest is the Infinity Traditional and Ergonomic

Stenorgraph - the heavyweight champ in this ring.  Starting from the Stentura 400 to the 8000 to the Mira to their latest, the Diamante

My goodness how far we've come.  They practically write by themselves.  I'm hardly necessary.  But let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

I tried all four.   The only one that I absolutely ruled out for me is the Passport.  I really did not like the way it felt.  It just was too tight.  I know for those of you who like a really shallow stroke, this might have been great for you, but not me.  They also told me that I could individually adjust everything.  But it seemed very complicated.  It is seriously a d 5 to 10-minute process.  I don't have that kind of attention span.  That's probably why I don't have automatic indexing (but that's another blog).  

So after a day at the vendor hall, I was able to rule out the Passport for me.     Not to say it might not be right for you.  The only other issue is that once again there is a wait list.  You can't get one for 8 to 12 weeks.  I have no idea why.  Call them up and ask.  This is as of February 2013. 

The Passport looks like a great machine.  It is heavier than the others, but you can really customize the keys and there are all kinds of skins you can buy if you want to customize the look. 

The Diamante, the Impression, and the Infinity were practically plug and play.  A few drivers here, a few plugs there, and voila up and  running within minutes.   All three hooked up quickly and easily to my laptop.  I was writing within minutes, and it looked pretty clean.   

I did not try to the Infinity Ergo.  But for those of you who have carpal tunnel or other wrist ailments, you might want to take a look.  This also has a lot of color choices and customization options for keyboards and screens.  You could get one w/out a screen.  It has bluetooth.  The touch is very nice.  However, once again it seemed a little complicated to set up.

Impression v. Diamante?  They're very close in looks.  The Diamante's screen folds down over the keyboard, so you cannot have it down and write.   The screen will always be up.  Some of you won't care.   It kind of bothers me because I usually have my writer under the table.

On-board audio - I said this was important.  I tried all three.  Honestly, the Diamante had the best audio.  The Impression was decent.  I had trouble hearing the Infinity.   Once again using my mic which looks like the Martel Hi-gain with battery.  But then again, I did try the Diamante audio when everybody had left for lunch and the hall was quiet.  The other two, unfortunately everybody had come back and there was a lot of background noise.

The touch - once again all three were nice.  All are very adjustable for your writing style.

Body - the Infinity is the sturdiest and yet still the lightest.  I think Jason Pardykes is actually using metal and it's just a well-built machine that can handle getting knocked over.  I know.  I knocked two over by accident.  Whoops!!!   So sorry.  I was almost afraid I was going to have to buy it bec. I broke it.  The Steno Doctor thinks this is a well-built machine that you will not always be bringing in for maintenance or broken parts.

The Diamante and the Impression are a little more plasticky, but still nice-looking machines.  You don't have the color choices that you get with the Passport and the Infinity.   But really, I can't buy a machine just based on the fact of whether it comes in a pretty color.  That would be really too shallow; right?   Right?

So which one did I buy?  Well, I bought the Impression.  Why you ask?

I liked the touch.  I like the fact you can write via usb to usb or use blue tooth.

Did I mention it has a touch screen?  That's kind of cool.  

The audio is decent.  

It's backing up using the SD cards (actually all of them are, so this isn't that big a deal.)

The sales team actually followed up with me.  I got practically zero follow up from the other companies.  I'd like to work with a company that wants me as a customer.  I think it bodes well for the service.

Yes, at the moment their only maintenance is by sending them in to the company, but I think the Steno Doctor will be able to work on them once they take the training.

The build time is one to two weeks.  I'll have it in my hot little hands in one to two weeks, at which point I will write follow up with the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Oh, there's also whispers of writing directly to an attorney's iPad from the writer via bluetooth.  Oooh, that sounds kind of exciting, especially if you're a realtime writer who  doesn't want to/can't use CVNet.  This might be a possible workaround.  Keep your fingers crossed.

So that's why I went with the Impression.  I also spoke with my friend who has an Impression and they liked it a lot.

I got a pretty good deal with convention pricing and everything.

UPDATE - 3/9/13

So I checked in with ProCat Flash.  I had been told lead time on the writer was one to two weeks.  So I thought I'd have it by now.  Alas, per ProCat, it takes a couple of weeks to build and then it goes through quality control.   So will probably ship 3/18/13.

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Comment by Kyung on November 21, 2013 at 13:17

Been using my new writer for a while.  And I'm pretty happy with it.  

Comment by Kyung on April 13, 2013 at 7:44

4/12/13 Used my new writer all day.  Did not plug in.  The SD card was getting pretty full.  I have been using the audio.

I also got the blue screen of death in the morning.  Almost had a headache.  I think it had to do with the bluetooth dongle.  

My computer doesn't recognize my bluetooth dongle if I plug it in after the computer is started unless I pull it out and plug it in a couple of times.   Tech support suggested I start the laptop with dongle plugged in.  Okay.

I did call tech support when I got the blue screen.  Their response time is woefully inadequate.  I got blue screen around 9:15.  Called tech support immediately.  Didn't get call back until around 9:46.  By that time I had rebooted and gotten things up and running and was about to go into depo at 10.  Told them I didn't have time to trouble shoot right that moment.  

Not saying tech support is all that faster from anybody else out there.  But at the end of the day, around 3:30, I called back again to discuss blue screen, took them about an hour and  half to get back to me.  They do not have tech support on weekends.  I wish they would expand their hours.

Comment by Kyung on April 11, 2013 at 19:10

4/10/13 - I got my writer back yesterday.  They said the screen hadn't been attached properly or something like that.  So they replaced the screen.  Used it on my little two-hour job today.  It was fine.  I didn't put the screen down.  Tomorrow I will put the screen down.

As an aside, for those of you who use blue tooth, do you find that sometimes it takes a couple of tries of pulling out your bluetooth dongle and then re-inserting before your computer recognizes your bluetooth dongle?

Comment by Kyung on April 6, 2013 at 6:05

Used the Impression writer all week.  I got a loaner sent out overnight, unpacked it, and shipped mine back.  The bluetooth was a little wonky on one of my ports, the port may be bad, so I just switched it to another port and it worked fine.

Comment by Kyung on April 2, 2013 at 18:54

Everything went beautifully except for the fact that the screen keeps turning off.  I have to send it back in for repair.

Comment by Judy on April 2, 2013 at 8:24

Good to hear.  My first day setting up my new Mira (years ago) for my first job with it was a fiasco.  Everything worked fine at the office, I swear.  Of course it was an expert's depo and my client's client was there, realizing for every minute I had issues that he was paying $600/hour, which I had to end up paying for 1/2 hour of the expert's time. 

Comment by Kyung on April 2, 2013 at 6:26

@Judy, it will be riding along with me for quite a while.

Comment by Judy on April 1, 2013 at 13:19

Bring your back-up machine and keep it in your car, just in case.

Comment by Kyung on April 1, 2013 at 13:09

Up and running with scissors.  Got call back from tech support.  Very nice.  Spent quite a chunk of time with me.  I can now write via bluetooth to three laptops and also via cable.  Whoo-hoo.  Learned how to transfer my steno notes and audio to the my software to re-tran.  Again.  whoo-hoo.  

Tomorrow will be testing under live conditions.

Comment by Kelli Combs (admin) on March 31, 2013 at 16:40

You're funny, Kyung. You make me laugh.   Let us know how it goes.

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