Starting the Court Reporting Program and Getting a Steno Machine
Information for beginning Theory and speed students
Court Reporting has gone high-tech! You will want a computerized writer soon after you finish Theory. You can use the writers, computers, and software we have in our lab, when it is accessible; but most students seem to like to get their own student court reporting (CAT) software and computerized writers so they can do much of their work at home. If you use a computerized writer during Theory, you may be able to use our Theory tutorial called GlobalCAT (more info below) which requires that you you connect your computerized steno machine to the computer so you can do practice drills. It also gives you instant feedback after every stroke. However, you certainly can start out low-tech and low cost to reduce your costs. So you have two options (and you just have to pick between the two!) We do like to start students with the cheap manual writers that write to paper. Times are changing, though, and there are some paperless writers where you can print your notes to correct and turn in. You just have to spend more money to get started.
Here is some information on new machines from Stenograph, the major retailer of stenotype machines:
2012 Stenograph Cerritos Purchase Certificate use this form to get a discount on your purchase of a stenotype machine from Stenograph as a Cerritos College student
You can also purchase an older model of the computerized stenotype machines, commonly known as Stenturas (Stentura 400/500 SRT student models, or 6000/8000 professional models.) This would be from any source that sells second-hand machines. The Stentura 200SRT has no battery and must be plugged in but will work with the computer as well.
*SRT stands for student realtime model. There are 200/400/500 Stenturas that are NOT computer compatible and they are NOT SRTs. You need the SRT and the cables to connect to the computer. If you are purchasing a Stentura, make sure it is an SRT and comes with a realtime cable.
You can purchase an older stenotype machine now and modify it with a ProWriter Plus for approximately $600 new (or at a bargain previously used.) This is an option that will allow you to convert the machine you start with to a computerized writer. http://procat.com/ProWriters/ProWriter-Intro.html
But hang tight, ProCAT is coming out with a new electronic student writer that replaces the ProWriter Plus for even less. More info as that becomes available.
Also know that all of the older computerized stenotype machines hook into the computer with a serial port connection. (GlobalCAT actually requires a serial port connection, but the CAT softwares can use a USB connection, so pretty much just addressing using GlobalCAT here.) New computers don't have serial ports, but don't fret because you can purchase a serial port adaptor and make it work! Even the newer and newest stenotype machines require this set-up to work with GlobalCAT (an interactive Theory tutorial). The Protege manufactured by Stenograph comes with a USB cable, but the USB cable can generally only be used to connect to Stenograph software or new versions of other major softwares. So for GlobalCAT or any other software, you most likely will need to purchase an adaptor for USB ports as listed below.
The serial realtime cable for Stentura 200/400/500 SRT is product number 30549, approx. $40.00, and can be purchased at this link: Elan and Stentura Realtime Cable with Adapters
For Stentura 200/400/500SRTs: Coolgear USB to serial adaptor
not available from Stenograph Coolgear USB RS-232 Serial Adapter DB-9 Male
**You want the Coolgear USB to serial adaptor listed above and not the black Keyspan adaptor Stenograph also sells (unless you are only going to be using it to connect to CATalyst). Some students get USB to serial port adaptors at local shops and sometimes they work; sometimes they do not. If you do go to a local shop, do NOT get the USB to serial port adaptor for PDAs. For some reason, that one never works. So read your package. It has to have drivers for your operating system (XP, Vista, 7 etc.)
Important notice about computers: GlobalCAT will work with Vista 32-bit software but we could not initially connect it to 64-bit software. However, one of our students made it work. Click here to find out what you need to set that up. Loading GlobalCAT on 64-bit computers.
GlobalCAT is an older program and eventually will require an older computer to work on. It does work with XP, 2000, 98 and 95 and Vista 32-bit.
Students starting Theory and Theory Review will need a stenotype machine ASAP. We have a couple we can lend in class only the first week, but you will have homework right away and you will need a machine. The minimum would be an older, manual stenotype machine (usually sell for between $75-200 guestimate). You CAN do Theory with a manual machine.
The deluxe would be to have a computerized writer (used approx $400-1200) (more info below) so you can use the computer tutorial and hook into the computer at home. But if you choose not to invest too much your first semester, you can use our computers and writers in our court reporting lab to do the tutorials and you will have lab time scheduled if you are on campus anyway. More information on what you need and renting a machine (which most likely will be manual) on www.cerritos.edu/courtreporting under the “getting started” and “getting a machine” links.
• Stentura 200 SRT (must be SRT, which stands for “student realtime”. This is a manual writer that does hook to the computer with a serial cable. You need the cable also. This writer has no battery and needs to be plugged in while writing to the computer. You can use it manually in class without plugging in.) (Approx. 300-$500 guestimate)
• Stentura 400 SRT or 500 SRT (must be SRT, which stands for “student realtime”. This is an electric writer that does hook to the computer with a serial cable. You need the cable also. This writer has a battery.) (Approx. $500-1000 guestimate)
• Stentura Protégé from Stenograph, approximately $1000. Comes with a USB connection cord. If your purpose is to connect to our Theory tutorial, GlobalCAT, you will likely need to purchase a serial realtime cable; and if you don't have a serial port on your computer, you will also need a USB to serial port adaptor as well. See information above on serial port adaptors and realtime cables.
Order: Student USB Serial Realtime Cable Kit (order number 37746) from Stenograph for Protege
Wide keys: For those of you who face this question buying a machine.
Our Theory, the Roberts, Walsh, Gonzalez Theory, does NOT use wide keys. Howsoever, when you finish school (or possibly even to a very limited extent in Theory), you may want to use wide keys to incorporate some more letter combinations, so… you DO NOT NEED wide keys. You can, however, get them and learn to avoid them (not stroke them by accident) and then you will have a little more versatility in the future. If you do get wide keys, it is usually the asterisk and the DZ keys that are wide. You do not need them now. If you are looking way far ahead, you might want to get them so you can learn to stroke cleanly with them. It is up to you. (Wide keys just give you a bit more versatility down the line. They also tend to get in the way while you are learning but you can learn to get around them. It’s kind of 6 one and half dozen the other.)
The CAT (computer-aided transcription) programs available in student version range from $100-$700, but you won't need those until after you finish Theory.
If you find a used stenotype machine, you can call us and we'll do our best to tell you if we think it will work. (Some of the first computerized models are way outdated and may not be recommended. They have names like Baron TX, X-scribe StenoRam, Smartwriter, and some of them took either a cassette tape or a low density floppy disk! They are likely too old to be very useful, though some Smartwriters and older machines can still do the job! And you may be able to just use them as a manual machine.)
We prefer writers that write to paper notes, but we'll work with you if you purchase a paperless writer as long as you can print the notes to turn in and you can read your display.
So, the choice truly is yours. Just make sure you have something ready to go when school starts because there is no time to get behind!
Please note! If you are purchasing a computer: GlobalCAT (interactive theory tutorial) does NOT automatically work with Windows Vista 64 bit operating systems. (See link above for a how-to to try.) It will work with most 32 bit Windows operating systems.
We have some students that ARE using CAT software with a MAC, if the computer can boot up as Windows. We also have some students that use netbooks instead of laptops for their software.
See the following sites as part of your computer research as to what computer specifications you need. Remember, the software companies are designing computer specs for working court reporters. You may not need all the bells and whistles as you go through school.
Best thing to do is to look at all of the information and learn as much as you can.
Below are some sites you can check out. We do NOT endorse any of these sites because we have no first-hand knowledge of them, but they do offer some information: