Choosing a hobbyist steno writer

From Plover Wiki

For most users, any of the commercially available hobbyist writers are perfectly adequate—choose a writer that's in stock, and within your budget. However, you may want to take more care in choosing a writer if any of the following apply to you:

  • You cannot run Plover on your device
    • Incompatible devices (Android and iOS devices)
    • Insufficient permissions on your computer (work/school computer)
  • You intend to steno in a language that's not English
  • You will exclusively use your steno writer in your computer usage

Considerations

Javelin support

Javelin is a keyboard firmware that features an steno engine. This means all the steno translations occur within the keyboard itself, bypassing the need to install Plover on the host machine; essentially "plug and play stenography" without any setup required. This is useful if you cannot run Plover is not compatible with your device.

Non-English language support

The layout used for the vast majority of English steno theories, known as the Ward Stone Ireland layout (WSI), may not be sufficient for other languages. The layout for Korean CAS , for example, uses 6 thumb keys and has an entire dedicated row for numbers. If you are intending to use Plover for other languages, have a look at the languages page for more details on the layouts supported by Plover.

Using a steno writer exclusively

It is possible to use a steno writer as your only keyboard for all your computer usage. However, sometimes it may be useful to have extra keys for two main reasons. First, some steno writers also double as a standard keyboard. They can be toggled to behave like a QWERTY keyboard (or any other layout), such that you do not need to switch physical keyboards. Furthermore, the extra keys on a steno writer can be mapped to modifier keys. This helps facilitating holding down keys as required for certain applications like CAD.

Table summary

Product Name Javelin Support Non-English language support QWERTY layer / Extra keys
TinyMod No Limited to WSI No
Ecosteno No Limited to WSI No
Multisteno Yes Yes
Asterisk Yes Limited to WSI No
The Uni Limited to WSI No
Polyglot Yes Yes
Starboard Yes Limited to WSI No
SOFT/HRUF Splitography No Yes Yes