on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)
The Infinity Traditional Writer
Twenty-five Questions From the Depoman.com Gang
Below are 25 questions and answers with the makers of the new and as yet unreleased (as of 15AUG10) I.T. Writer, the existence of which was revealed to me by a reader who was trying to select his next writer when he heard whispers about the I.T. Writer, as detailed in the 18JUL10 Update here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy.
I eventually heard from one of the beta-testers of the writer, who offered their perspective on how the writer was to use, as detailed in the followup update.
Shortly after that, I got an e-mail from the Contact Us address on the Infinitytraditional.com site, which was reproduced in the 14AUG10 Update, in which they made me an offer I couldn't refuse (being a "hard-hitting journalist" and all, as Kathryn Thomas put it)!
Alas, the "Who are those guys, anyway!?!" has been (kinda-sorta) answered by some excellent sleuthing by a relatively new Depoman.com denizen discovered that the domain name owner of InfinityTraditional.NET was none other than Jason "Gemini Guy" Pardikes.
"Hey, wait a minute. Isn't the site a dot-com address?!"
Yes it is ... but when you put that .net address into your browser, it immediately takes you to the .com address ... and the .net address has Jason's contact info in the WhoIs entry.
A popular question was about the satchel bag depicted in the images. I'm pretty sure that bag was just used as a size comparison, so (unless the revelation of who is behind this new writer decreases the number of questions I receive dramatically) that question will not be asked.
Oh, and for those of you who are reading a printed version of this document, here's a picture of the writer so you can see what all the fuss is about:
And now, here are those questions!
Q. When will the writer be officially released?
A. The I.T.'s anticipated shipment will occur in January of 2011, as this marks the seven-year anniversary of The Neutrino Group's manufacturing of court reporting equipment.
Q. Is there is any kind of ergonomic adjustability to the keys?
A. This is a very strange question indeed. As the unsurpassed experts in ergonomics, we at The Neutrino Group would like to take this time to try and educate everyone just a little bit. No traditionally designed machine offers ergonomically adjustable keys. By its nature, a steno machine is non-ergonomic. If ergonomics is your thing, you should check out the Infinity ergonomic machine, which offers all of the same incredible features of the I.T., but in a fully ergonomic design. However, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that not all traditionally designed machines are built the same.
The I.T. does offer the widest range of adjustment in terms of force available. This provides you with the ability to adjust the machine to your preference. This customization also gives you the ability to match your writer to your writing style, helping to prevent overstressing your arms and wrists. In addition, we have developed something called multi-density pads. A pad is used to stop the strokes at the bottom as the assist bar encounters the pads.
As we were the first ever to introduce a soft stop pad, we also have had time to learn a few things. Number one, a soft stop pad is a good tool in helping to prevent repetitive stress injuries to the hands and wrists and is much more effective in limiting damage than a hard rubber stop. The difference is similar to runners who run on concrete and asphalt. They are much more likely to suffer shin splits, ankle problems, knee problems, and even hip and back problems. This is as a result of the force transmitted back up through the body from landing on concrete. In comparison, a runner who uses a rubberized track or even a treadmill experiences much less overall body shock and joint compression.
The downside to a soft down-stop pad is that many people find it difficult to locate the bottom of the stroke, meaning they have a tendency as they write to continue to push even after the stroke has been completed, because they have not developed a feel in their mind that this is the end of the stroke. It's purely a tactile feel sensation that is hard to train yourself to get away from.
The I.T. introduces a technology that we have been testing in the Revolution Grand with select people over the course of the last few years. Our multi-density down-stop pads give you a nice, firm ending, but provide almost the same level of shock absorption of a softer material. This way the shock at the ending of the stroke is absorbed by the machine and not your joints, while still allowing the crisp ending to your stroke that you are used to.
Q. Are the keys sensitivity levels individually adjustable?
A. The simple answer is yes, all of the keys are individually adjustable for sensitivity. The more complex answer to this question is that not only are the keys individually adjustable, but each of our keys offers unique activation and deactivation points and they are all dynamically driven.
In a traditional machine design, you had only a single on and off position on a key. So, just like a light switch in your house, as you flipped the switch, it would come on and off at one single point. Well, with the design of the Infinity, we have moved to a system that tracks many variables; direction of key travel, speed of key travel, acceleration and deceleration of each key, the length of time that a key is being stroked, and a few others that are proprietary to our system. By doing this, we can have dynamic activation and deactivation points. These dynamic points are automatically calculated each time you start a stroke and give you an unprecedented level of accuracy.
Q. Does each key have individual adjustments for depth and tension either via the writer itself (mechanically or via the on-board GUI) or via some sort of GUI that is installed on the PC attached to the writer? -- That is, is each key adjustable ala the LightSpeed ((GUI installed on your computer that does not necessarily need to be running in concert with the writer itself) and/or the Passport (on-board GUI)?
A. Let's clear up a misconception here. Often people confuse the three types of adjustments for each other.
The three adjustments are force, depth, and individual sensitivity. There has never been a machine that offers individual adjustments on each key for depth or force. The fact is every key pivots from the same spot (except for the number bar of some models). This single pivot action prevents a machine from being able to be individually adjustable for depth. This is a common fallacy.
In terms of force, again, there is a common misconception of how force is adjusted. Every articulated machine ("articulated" means that it has a pivoting action) has something called either a bus bar, an assist bar, or a universal bar that sits underneath all of the keys. This assist bar is used for two reasons: One, it is used to provide the initial force or feel of the keys. It is also used to increase or decrease the overall tension of the stroke. As you increase or decrease the force of the stroke, you are changing the assist bar itself by adding or removing a predefined spring load.
Now, sensitivity is what is individually adjustable, and we offer two ways to adjust our machines. For those with the large LCD, you have an onboard utility that lets you change your settings on the fly. On our machine without the large LCD, you may configure key sensitivity via a graphical user interface on your computer.
Q. Can you get any model in any color?
A. Yes, you may get any of our systems in any color we make. If you want your own custom color, all you need to do is send us a color sample, and we will make your writer that color for a small fee.
Q. How much is it? (and all the iterations -- with screen and without, captioning model, student model, etc.)?
A. Court with LCD = $4,995.00 retail
Court without LCD = $4,795.00 retail
Captioner = $2,395.00 retail
Student = $1,745 retail
Court with LCD = $3,995.00 (which is a $1,000.00 savings)
Court without LCD = $3,795.00 (which is a $1,000.00 savings)
Q. Will we be able to get a local demo before buying it sight unseen? Or at least some kind of accommodation to try it before you buy it?
A. As with all of our products, we will be attending trade shows doing physical demos. We look forward to seeing you at those trade shows. And if you are interested in scheduling a private demo, please e-mail us at Iwantademo@infinitytraditional.com
Q. Why should we buy their writer instead of a competitor's?
A. We can't tell you why you should buy our product over another, nor would we be ever be so presumptuous to try to do so. We stand by the fact that it is our job to educate you and let you make the decision yourself.
But what we can tell you is that once you compare the features, functions and price of our writers, you will find we not only match any feature you can find, we typically beat it as well. No writer competes in terms of size, power, and capability. The Neutrino Group has been pushing the bounds of court reporting from the day we got into the court reporting machine business.
Q. How many internal backups do the various models have?
A. All of our court systems have four electronic backups; an internal backup which is protected from direct user interaction and three external cards that can be removed and replaced by the user.
Q. Can you monitor the space available on the various media backups via the writer (similar to how you would check ink levels on a color printer, for instance)?
A. Yes, you may. We have several different ways. In addition, with our large LCD model, whenever you start the writer up, you will receive an on-screen status that shows you the initial writer checks and also lists your exact usage of all storage devices and whether they are inserted into the machine or not.
Q. What files are backed up on the writer's backup(s)?
A. We store notes, timestamps (for audio synchronization), and audio on two of the external backups. On the third backup, we only store notes and timestamps. On the internal storage device, we store notes, timestamps, translation dictionaries, configuration information, along with log files that we can use to review writer performance information.
Q. Regarding the "three internal memory cards at 4 GB each, expandable to 32GB." Does that mean the "internal memory cards" are such that the reporter/user is able to swap them in and out or is this something that needs to be done by the manufacturer (truly internal)? Also, does each memory card used in concert have to be the same size?
A. There must have been a typo here or some bit of information that was misconstrued. There is one internal 8 GB storage device that the reporter cannot remove or directly replace, and there are three external 4 GB storage cards that reporters can remove and replace with larger cards, up to 32 GB. They do not need to match in size or type.
Q. What type of file(s) is/are written to the internal memory?
A. On the internal storage device, we store notes, timestamps, translation dictionaries, configuration information, along with log files that we can use to review writer performance information.
Q. Will the writer have the option to write both wired and wirelessly? If yes, will the wireless ability be considered an "upgrade" or "add-on" such that there will be an additional charge for the option?
A. The writer has both wired and wireless available onboard and is included in the purchase price. We offer a USB cable connection option, a serial cable connection option, and we include the tri-connected Class 1 internal Bluetooth, the best in its class. The student version does not offer wireless, but when you upgrade our student writer to a Captioner or Court system, we will add that feature.
Q. Does it include audio sync?
A. Our Court writers do include built-in audio recording, and audio playback via a 3.5 mm microphone jack. Microphone and headsets are sold separately.
Q. If the answer is "yes" to the audio sync question, is there an ability to turn that off and on without having to reach up from the writer (for instance, a simple single "touch" on the screen of the writer)?
A. Yes, there is the ability to turn the audio recording on and off on the writer itself.
Q. What type of audio file is produced by the writer?
A. For ultimate compatibility, we store our files in a .wav file.
Q. Can you monitor the audio from the writer in realtime?
A. Yes, you may monitor and even boost your audio using our on-board system.
Q. Does it take a standard tripod or does it have a special lightweight one that folds up nice and compact like the writer?
A. The writer does fit a standard tripod. We will be introducing the lightest weight tripod ever made, and we ship one for free with every writer we sell. Our tripod weighs 1.3lbs. Once folded up, it takes up only 11.5 inches of space and extends to up to 26.5 inches in height when fully extended.
Q. Does it come with a carrying case or will there be one made for it (with or without wheels)?
A. The writer does come with a carrying case. The carrying case is ultra small, just like our writer is. The writer with the large LCD, tripod, power supply and case weigh a less than 6lb total; far lighter than any other writer.
We will also offer a very stylish compact wheeled carrying case option unlike anything previously available to reporters.
Q. Is there a warranty for any issues that may arise?
A. Yes, all of our equipment comes with a manufacturer's warranty, which covers manufacturing or design defects but does not cover any abuse and/or misuse. You can find full warranty information on the Infinity Traditional website.
Q. Will firmware updates for the writer be made available for free, or will there be a charge for them?
A. All critical functional firmware updates will be made available for free for the life of the machine. We do, however, reserve the right to create new-feature firmware updates that will incur a fee. For those of you who want to stay up-to-date on the latest and coolest features we build, we suggest taking advantage of our customizable protection plans. These plans allow you to choose whatever feature you would like covered.
Q. Is the writer compatible with ALL CAT software, and if so, is it using something besides the Baron Transcriptor X communications protocol?
A. Our writer is compatible with every major CAT software. One industry leader has chosen not to support our product's improved functionality, even though we have provided them with the technical specification to do so multiple times through the years at no charge, even offering free aid if they wanted it, so we had to design a solution that would allow our equipment to work with every CAT software, even those who didn't want our products to work with them. So we implemented a Baron TX protocol, which works as a true realtime protocol, meaning as you press a stroke, immediately that stroke is sent to the computer, eliminating that annoying lag that shows up, something that can absolutely annoy, if not ruin, a great realtime stream.
Q. What technology is used for the display?
A. We use the highest quality and most modern a-Si TFT active matrix display with an antiglare treatment and RBG-stripe color arrangement.
Q. Can the Auto-Dim/Brighten feature be turned off?
A. Yes. You are in complete control of this feature. You may also adjust the brightness level yourself as you see fit.
After I submitted the above questions, I got an e-mail from the I.T. Writer's ContactUs e-mail address:
Dear Mr. Warner:
As a bonus did you have any other questions you would like to have answered?
The I.T. Team
Well, as a matter of fact, I did get a few questions submitted by e-mail ....
Q. What about sales people? Do you have any?
A. We have arranged some incredible salespeople that will be announced in various areas at a later date. For now all calls will be routed through The Neutrino Group directly at (303) 453-0384 on the official ship date of the product.
Q. What is the technology behind the monitor (LCD, OLED, etc.)?
A. Again, it appears terms are getting confused. "LCD" refers to liquid crystal display. "OLED" means organic light-emitting diode. All modern screens are LCD, and even OLED screens are still technically LCDs, but the OLED technology refers to how you are supplying light to the LCD.
We use an active a-Si TFT active matrix LCD.
Q. There appears to be no cable connecting the monitor to the writer. Does the monitor communicate with the writer via Bluetooth?
A. There is a very small cable that connects the LCD screen to the writer. If we had it connected via Bluetooth, each part would need to be powered and charged separately.
Q. What type of batteries does the writer use?
A. We use lithium ion batteries, thus eliminating battery memory issues that many other battery types use. In addition, it provides the second highest charge density available. "Charge density" basically means how much energy (electricity) that can be stored per ounce of material. In layman's terms, that means more power in a lighter weight product.
Some of you have asked why we don't use the highest charge density batteries. The reason is simple. Lithium polymer batteries have not matured to the point that they are as safe as they need to be for people to use them in home electronics.
Q. Are they hot-swappable?
A. They are not hot swappable. And with our incredibly long battery life, there is no need to hot-swap a battery. If you need additional run time, you can purchase our extended-life battery.
Q. Is there a backup battery?
A. With our system, we manage the battery usage and alert you both visually and via audio as to battery status. In addition, we automatically turn off the large LCD in the event you are running critically low on power, which will give you an additional three hours of run time.
Remember, the thing that takes the most power is the LCD. The brighter the LCD, the shorter the battery life. All battery tests have been conducted in a 50% brightness setting.
The battery indicator will always be available in the job menu. This battery indicator will display in three colors with corresponding battery percentage estimates. A green battery will be displayed from 51% -100%; a yellow battery from 25% - 50%; red from 11% - 24%; flashing red from 6-10%; and an audible beep will sound at 5%. This beep will have three long beeps. At 4%, the beep will sound again; at 3% again; and at 2%, the beep will now be five rapid beeps, repeating until the machine starts to charge again or is turned off. At this point, an onscreen warning will be displayed, as well as a prominent display telling the reporter that they are about to lose power.
Q. How long does the writer run on a single charge?
A. The I.T. Court with Large LCD will run for 18+ hours.
The I.T. Court without the Large LCD will run for 35+ hours
The I.T. Captioners will run for 35+ hours
The I.T. Student will run for 12" hours
* All times subject to change as we fine-tune our writer's power consumption
Q. How does the writer handle stacking -- i.e., are there any anti-stacking algorithms?
A. The Infinity series of writers goes way beyond standard anti-stacking algorithms. Its unique organic intelligence provides not only anti-stacking, but intelligent anti-splitting, anti-dragging and anti-dropping capabilities. We are extremely confident that you will experience not only the best feeling a writer can supply, but also, and more importantly, the best writing you can get, as long as you follow our simple setup guide.
Q. Does the I.T. Writer have anything like the Passport's Shadow-Tracking?
A. The Passport shadow-tracking technology is a patented technology that Advantage has created. Our writer is much more intelligent in how strokes are displayed and recorded. Thereby eliminating the need for a similar display.
Q. What type of sensors does the writer use?
A. We use special sensors called Halifax sensors. This key sensor technology allows us to scan and monitor the keys more than 1000 times per second, which gives our machine unsurpassed clarity when it comes to tracking your every key movement.
The I.T. Team
After this document was uploaded with the answers to the posed questions, a small discussion took place a bit later in the afore-linked thread on Depoman.com, wherein Jill Driscoll asked a clarifying question about the I.T. Writer:
Q. I am the one that asked the "interesting" question about the ergonomic adjustability of the keys. I guess what I was thinking was that there might be a glimmer of a chance that the keys on each side might be able to be pivoted in some way. Perhaps not individually, but as a set. You know, in degrees to suit individual preferences. It was just something I imagined might be possible, so I asked.
Or even individually raised and/or lowered.
Jason answered that "interesting" question with an even more "interesting" answer:
A. It is a very valid question for sure. I would suggest however that is want ergonomic check back on the Infinity site in a couple of weeks and you will see an ergonomic machine that looks like the rev Revolution Grand but has all of the features and intelligence of the I.T.
We will never stop making ergonomic writers or teaching about ergonomics. They are just too important for a reporter not to know.
Diana Van Dyke asked another clarifying question:
Q. What's that, you say, Jason?! You're dropping a tiny bomb of there being a SECOND "New" writer out there for us to salivate over?
A. I'm not sure I would classify it that way. Yes it is new, yes it is a writer. But the way I look at this product I would say that is is more a family of products. Because you could say that the I.T. Student writer is different than the I.T. Court w/LCD but we look at them that they are all closely related and are not each individual.
So what we will be showing with be the fully ergonomic version of the Infinity family of writers. We call it the I.E. for Infinity Ergonomic. In that group we will offer the same levels as the I.T. just all ergonomic in nature.
Really our companies goal was to make a family of writers that would suit everybody from our current ergonomic customer base, and add a product that would enhance and serve the Reporter that prefers a traditional design.
Hope that helps.
Jill then chimed in with a new, rather technical question:
Q. Will the I.E. allow you to adjust the keys using the GUI doodad instead of a screwdriver dealy like the Rev series?
A. Yes all sensitivity adjustments on the I.E. are just like that are on the I.T. either via the computer interface for those machine without the large LCD or via the Large LCD on the court models.
The depth or stroke is still adjusted using a tool on the I.E. vs the wheel for the I.T. but that is not an adjustment that is made frequently.
Q. Will the price point for the captioner model of the I.E. be pretty close to the I.T. captioner model?
A. Yes all I.E. products will be very close. There is a $200 difference between the I.T. and I.E. models which covers the cost of the additional components and labor to assemble the machines.
Q. So, approx $200 less for the I.E. model?
A. $200 more; there are more moving and complicated parts in an ergonomic machine than there are in an non-ergonomic machine.