Choosing the right stenotype: used, new, or rent-to-own ?
Every August, new École de Sténographie Judiciaire du Québec students all across the province busy themselves with collecting all the equipment they’ll need for the coming school year. On the list: computer, headphones, microphone, Case CATalyst software, and of course the famous stenotype. This last item tends to elicit its fair share of questions, as it’s a significant financial investment for students. “Should I buy mine new?”, “Do I go for a second-hand one?” and others are all relevant questions to ask yourself. But what are the answers ?
First of all, you should know that the stenotype market is essentially dominated by the Stenograph company, based in the United States. As of August 2019 they are offering two models: the Luminex II and the Luminex Captioner/Student Edition (Luminex CSE) steno writers. The main differences in these models are the prices and the available options. The Wave model is also in second-hand the market. Any of these steno writers can be used in our programs.
For comparison’s sake, the Luminex CSE student stenotype, as a one-time purchase, retails for $1695 US (including Case CATalyst Student software), while a new professional stenotype, the Luminex II model, retails for $5595 US (prices and package details subject to change – verify the most current details directly with the Stenograph company). The Luminex CSE or Wave model is amply sufficient for official stenography students.
Stenotype options for our students
Buy a new stenotype
As we discussed above, the two models of new stenotypes are the Luminex CSE and the Luminex II. Since it’s fairly rare for students to opt for a Luminex II for their first stenotype because of its high cost, we are going to focus on the CSE in this article. This year, the Stenograph company is offering students the Luminex CSE for $1695 US.
Buying pre-owned is a way to save a few dollars. In the past, Stenograph offered refurbished models but now the only option for pre-owned stenotypes is to purchase from a third party.
Buying from a third party
You can often find used stenotypes for sale in classified ads. These stenotypes usually come from students who have either dropped out of or completed an official stenographer program. Check the background of the reseller (ESJQ, another school, an official stenographer, etc), and make sure that the stenotype isn’t part of the rent-to-own program from the Stenograph company.
Before the start of every school year, ESJQ offers its former students a form for selling their stenotype. The school provides a list of used stenotypes for sale with the list of required materials sent to incoming students to help them acquire a used stenotype. ESJQ has nothing to do with the sales themselves, however. It is up to the seller and the buyer to define the terms and conditions around the sale and purchase of the used stenotype.
Before buying a used stenotype, you should find out from its seller what (if any) guarantee remains on the machine. Oftentimes, resellers sell not only the stenotype but also all of the accessories they bought with their stenotype (tripod, case, Case CATalyst software, etc.). It’s important to know that Case CATalyst software is not always transferable. Don’t be afraid to ask a seller who wants to include the software for the client number of the software and any other pertinent formation, especially whether it is a transferable version and whether all software updates have been rigorously applied. You should also know that if you want to register the software in your name (if it is a transferrable licence), it generally costs about $200 US. Finally, although most ESJQ students will have already added “wide keys” (usually “wide star” and “DZ”, also called “DZ*”) to their stenotype when it was new, you should still make sure that they have indeed been installed on the stenotype you’re thinking of buying. To have Stenograph add “wide keys” to a used stenotype machine would cost you a couple hundred dollars.
The student has to sign a machine transfer agreement with Stenograph if they want to continue to benefit from the machine’s guarantee. If there is no guarantee already in place, we highly recommend buying a guarantee for the length of your ESJQ program.
Rent-to-own Option from Stenograph
Choosing a rent-to-own option offers students with limited budgets the ability to acquire a lightly used, refurbished stenotype. With a down payment of $500 US and a payment plan (27 monthly instalments of $55), you can rent a new Luminex CSE from the company and own it after just over two years. A warrantee is offered for the duration of the contract. Once you own the steno writer, you are also eligible to trade it in and receive between $600 and $850 in trade-in value toward the purchase of a professional model.
Of course, this little guide to buying your first stenotype is for informational purposes only. The ESJQ in no case bears responsibility for the exactness of the information mentioned in this article. The stenotype market, like all markets dealing with technology, is rapidly evolving. You should keep an eye out for new information about the products mentioned in this post. Is it each student’s responsibility to choose the option that best fits their own plan for study at the ESJQ. Don’t be shy to ask your teachers, school administrators, or your colleagues for their opinion as you plan your stenotype purchase.
You can also visit the Stenograph company’s website: www.stenograph.com, or contact them directly for more information. They’re based in the Chicago area and the folks are very friendly. Call 1 800 323 4247 and request to speak with the education department.