on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

Words by Stacy Metz, XHTML and Pictures by G.D. Warner

The Stentura Fusion

"My Personal Dream Machine"


As long time readers of Cheap and Sleazy probably know, I am a big fan of buying stuff once ... so I always advise my readers to avoid buying student machines -- unless they can be physically upgraded to the professional version fairly cheaply.

To that end, I heartily recommended the ProCAT Flash as THE machine to get. It saves stuff to an (old school) PCMCIA memory card, displays ONLY your steno, plus had a bit more of an informative display than the Protege.

While I still think my Flash is pretty cool, if I were looking for a professional-level writer TODAY, the Stentura Fusion would definitely have my attention (the Fusion came out about the time I wrote "Technolust, so it was still pretty new).

It took a while to find someone with the time to write a review of the Fusion for me, but Stacy Metz, a CRAH student living deep in the wilds of Florida, stepped up to the plate and sent me this one. Alas, she said she had no photographic skills, so for now, we'll just have to make due with the ones I took of the Fusion during the visit of Seattle's best Stenograph rep to my old school some (*mumble-mumble*) years ago .....



The Stenograph Fusion

The Stenograph Fusion

Let's face it, choosing a steno machine as a student is confusing. I would compare the experience to buying a car. There are tons of styles, sizes and colors. You can choose from buying a new machine or a used machine, just as you do a car. Heck, even buying a tripod can be somewhat confusing; to tilt or not to tilt?

So what's a student to do?

Well, if you're anything like me, you'll want to take all the machines on a test drive; new and/or old.

Oh, and your budget will probably play a huge role in your decision. Features such as memory, wireless capability, paper or paperless, audio, depth of stroke adjustability, etc., all of these, more or less, should help you make your decision as to whether a steno machine is right for you or not.

The Stenograph Fusion came highly recommended to me by a working and experienced court reporter. I believe that even if you're not a student, this machine is a great choice. It has a lot of really great features:

  1. Translated text displays on color non-glare LCD screen.
  2. You can view text, steno notes or text and steno notes simultaneously.
  3. It's Realtime ready through a USB or serial port.
  4. It has audio record and playback.
  5. It has an adjustable digital clock with month, date and time.
  6. You can format and use a Data SD card for steno notes and audio.
  7. You can adjust the volume of the beeper, LCD contrast, colors and font size.
  8. You can update the Fusion software from the Internet download via USB.
  9. Date and timestamp note files.
  10. It will automatically load main and job dictionaries.
  11. J-Define entries from the Fusion to a job dictionary.
  12. A/An resolution.
  13. It will search for and display the previous or last Question, Answer, untranslate, StenoMark or steno string.
  14. You can scroll forward and backward in a file.
  15. You can reopen an existing file for readback.
  16. It is also wireless capable with the proper upgrades.

I think some of these features are very self-explanatory, but some features deserve some extra explanation, especially since this article is being written from a student's point of view.

To feature number two, I am currently in the speed building portions of my studies as a court reporting student. My current speed-goal is 180 wpm. I've found after a number of years of speed building and practice, that the best way to speed build is to always view only my notes. So being able to view just your steno notes and nothing more is something that I really adore. However, when I'm testing, I love having the option of viewing my text and steno notes simultaneously.

Fusion Display

Fusion Display

As for feature number three, after purchasing my Fusion I was given step-by-step instructions of how to download my dictionary and set the machine up for Realtime. It was such an easy, yet detailed process, let's just say that I was more than happy to have someone guide me along the way.

I am also constantly adding to the dictionary using the J-Define feature.

The audio (feature number four) that's built into this machine is really nice also. As a new reporter, I'll probably rely on this feature in some way, shape or form. This is one feature that's not included in some of the older machines, which is another reason why I chose the Fusion.

One more feature that I feel deserves some extra credit is the LCD screen.

This is so amazing.

Stentura Fusion:  Startup Screen

Stentura Fusion: Startup Screen (thanks to Dave Persaud)

Being able to speed build and practice without the use of expensive paper or having to be connected to the Realtime function is amazing. You can have the LCD display text in several different colors. You can set separate colors for untranslates, question symbol, answer symbol, text and conflicts. You can also adjust the font size, background color and overall brightness.

As for feature number six, the Data SD card is used to store steno notes, timestamps and audio files. I use a 2GB, and these cards are really inexpensive. The actual number of files a Data SD card holds varies according to the size of the SD card, the size of each steno note, timestamp and audio file. For example, a 256MB Data SD card holds over 63 million strokes or the equivalent of about 287,000 pages without audio files.

Depending on the audio compression option selected, audio files use about 6MB or 15MB for every hour of recording. When continually recording using the 6MB audio compression rate, a 256MB Data SD card holds about 463,000 strokes, the equivalent of about 2,100 pages.

I think that this SD card is more than capable of handling a few jobs.

There's an SD icon on the title bar of the LCD screen that provides a general indication of the remaining space on the card. And if your card is corrupt, full or missing from the Data SD slot, the Fusion displays warning messages but allows you to continue writing. Steno and timestamps continue to be saved to RAM and the text written to paper.

Fusion Display:  Status

Fusion Display: Status

The Fusion uses RAM -- Random Access Memory -- to store steno note files for later retrieval and as additional backup to the Data SD card. Steno note files stored in RAM remain in memory even when you turn the machine off. If the RAM becomes full, the Fusion overwrites the oldest file. You also have the option of saving the steno notes stored in RAM to a Data SD card.

I believe the other features are self-explanatory. The features and capabilities on this machine have been very easy to learn, in my opinion. If there's something that I cannot figure out how to do on my own, I just start reading the manual. The manual for this machine gives step-by-step instructions and is so easy to follow, even I can do it.

I chose the Stenograph Fusion because of the different features. I especially love the fact that I don't need to buy paper over and over again for my speed building; I just use the paperless feature.

Also, a certified Stenograph technician made sure that my machine was running properly and even shimmed the keys for me. This made the depth of stroke on every key extremely light to the touch.

Stentura Fusion:  Interior

Stentura Fusion: Interior

I purchased my Fusion through a company that is highly reputable and very well-known. It came with a 2-year warranty, which, I feel, was so worth it. I've had my machine for about a year now, and I really believe I made the right choice for me.

I wish you all the best in your steno-machine-buying experience. Just remember to steer clear of the guy who says, "I got a car out back I'll sell ya."

Happy hunting!

Fusion Info Sheet One Fusion Info Sheet Two

Fusion Info Sheets