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

Words and Pictures by Kyung Lee-Green, CA CSR, CLN; XHTML by G.D. Warner

The ProCAT Impression

"I Found My New Writer!"


It took a while, but I finally found someone to write a review of the ProCAT Impression for Cheap and Sleazy ...! In this article, California court reporter Kyung Lee-Green shares her, um ... impressions of the ProCAT Impression with you.



"Resistance --> Futile"

So the other day, I had to stop the depo because 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 point all the attorneys in the room mocked me for using floppies.

obsolete floppy

Obsolete Floppy

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 current writer is serial to USB or ExpressCard. I need a new writer that is USB to USB or has Bluetooth 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 new writer, which one? Hmm, decisions, decisions.

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

ProCAT: Maker of the Flash writer (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 incarnation is the Impression.

Advantage: Maker of the Passport Touch, the first second writer put out by this company. As I mentioned, I do have Eclipse software.

Neutrino Group  Infinity Traditional: They started off with the Piper which morphed into the Revolution Grand and the latest and greatest is the Infinity Traditional and Ergonomic.

Stenograph: The heavyweight champ in this ring. Starting from the Stentura 200 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 five- to ten-minute process. I don't have that kind of attention span. That's probably why I don't have automatic indexing working (but that's another article for another time).

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 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 without 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 because ... 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.

Th ProCAT Impression: Open and Running

The ProCAT Impression: Open and Running

Why, you ask?

I liked the touch. I like the fact you can write via USB to USB or use Bluetooth.

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

ProCAT Impression:  Touch Screen

ProCAT Impression: Touch Screen

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.)

ProCAT Impression:  Rear View

ProCAT Impression: Rear View"

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.


Still have to send it back to ProCAT for maintenance. Also have to buy an expensive maintenance contract through ProCAT.

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 a 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 CaseViewNet. This might be a possible workaround. Keep your fingers crossed.


The LiveDeposition router is an option for those of you who want to realtime to iPads.

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: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So I checked in with ProCAT. 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.

So, after playing around today, here are the things that were driving me bat-shit crazy. Some of these might be pretty trivial, but just in the interest of full disclosure.

1) I know today is Easter and tech support is not 24/7, and they supposedly have an emergency tech support person, but still I dislike not having tech support 24/7 like I would with Eclipse. I called in today and did not get a call back.

2) The manual they sent me was put together backwards. It went from page 1 to 25, then start at 65 to 24, then started again. I had to take it apart and put it back together. Seriously, for $5k, you'd think the manual would be put together correctly. There were typos/spelling errors in the manual. Only a fellow CSR can understand this peeve.

3) Bluetooth dongle did not come with CD to download drivers. My husband said, "Maybe it's plug and play."

Okay. Plugged in dongle. Computer loaded something, not sure what. The computer sees the writer and the writer sees the computer, but as my husband says, "They're just getting to know each other and they're not talking right now."

Maybe I can get a call in to tech support tomorrow and get them to "talk" to each other.


I think because I had written on the writer at the DRA convention in February, drivers were already loaded for the writer, so I was able to hook it up to my express card-to-serial adapter and plug it in via cable and was up and running.

So I can technically use it on my job on Tuesday. I played around with the audio settings, recording and playback and they worked. I got a little bit of crackle but not bad. The amplification does work.

Only had one file where when I closed out and looked at my file on the computer screen later, there were a couple of lines missing. Not sure what happened there. In that particular file I had played with the playback settings as well as the realtime hold. I also turned my writer off before my closing out of my Eclipse file, but that shouldn't have been a problem.

Tomorrow, I will talk to tech support and try to get my Bluetooth up and running, figure out how to export audio and note files so that I can use that for backup. I will also try to set up my backup computer.

The touch screen is pretty cool. A couple of times the screen turned off, but the writer is still on. I had to power down and power up a couple of times before it would work correctly.

Will post again after I speak with tech support tomorrow.

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

Update (02APR13)

Everything went beautifully except for the fact that the screen keeps turning off. I have to send it back in for repair. 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. Woo-hoo! Learned how to transfer my steno notes and audio to my software to re-tran. Again. Woo-hoo!

Tomorrow will be testing under live conditions.

Oh, return policy 21 days with Neutrino Group and 15 days with ProCAT. I think with Stenograph there isn't one, but I didn't really ask.

So someone asked me how much did you pay? They're all running around $4300 to $4600 with convention pricing. So I was at the DRA convention. But there might be a local convention in your area where you can get the convention pricing. After you've checked out the writers, go to the website of the writer you're interested and call them or check their calendar to see if they're going to be at a convention in your area. If they are, the others will probably be too. Great opportunity for you to check more than one writer out at a time.

Update (06APR13)

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.

Update (10APR13)

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.

Update (12APR13)

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 troubleshoot 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 a half to get back to me. They do not have tech support on weekends. I wish they would expand their hours.

As an aside, for those of you who use Bluetooth, 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?

Update (20NOV14)

There were cracks in my writer where the screen is hinged. I sent it back and had them fix it. I got a loaner while it was in maintenance. You have to pay for shipping to ProCAT. They will send the loaner out to you.

About Those Memory Cards ...

I remember going around and around with them on this because it's only certain 16gb memory cards. Some of the newer ones for videorecorders and such don't work. I asked for exact specs:

• SDSC (SD Standard Capacity)

• SDHC (SD High Capacity)

• SDXC (SD eXtended Capacity)

These are the specs ... and only up to 16GB. This info is nowhere on their website.


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