Monday, June 7, 2021

First Impressions of the Steno-Flex

a computer with the words 'a little trickier. What about if I do the -er
thing again? So I say longer, faster, harder, stronger. But I'm starting to learn how to use it. I think the more I do it, the better it gets. That is interesting. So now that I've got the hang of it, should I try to do that again? Let's try one more time. I push down a little deeper than I expect to, I keep close attention on the middle line, and I write pretty cleanly, all things considered. I think I'm figuring it out' next to a StenoFlex with a blue light in it

The Steno-Flex is soon to be live on Crowd Supply, a crowdfunding platform that's very dear to my heart, because it was founded by Josh Lifton, Plover's first developer! The Steno-Flex's inventor is named Seth Garlock, and has recently gone live. It's a little sparse at the moment, but I'm sure it will be built out more extensively as time goes on. I finally got the chance to put it through its paces, and it definitely has a learning curve, but overall I'm quite impressed with the feel and uniqueness of this beautiful little machine. At first I tried to use my typical very light, very shallow darting motion -- the one I use with my professional $3,000 lever machine (an Infinity Ergonomic). The output wasn't very accurate, so I slowed down and tried again. I discovered that a slightly deeper "pushing" motion worked better, and I began to get more accurate results, though at a slightly lower speed than the one I use in my daily professional life. The touch is very light, so going deeper doesn't actually require much in the way of muscle power. It's a very delicate machine -- hopefully strong enough to withstand repeated oressing and releasing, given all its moving parts, but that's something that can only be determined over the long haul. The look of it is absolutely gorgeous, though, and the components all seemed to be well seated and solidly constructed.

One peculiarity I noticed was that only the top part of the asterisk key appeared to work as an asterisk; the bottom part appears to output "#*" instead. That's probably easily dealt with in a firmware update, but it took a little getting used to. Resting my fingers on the middle groove was pretty intuitive and I got the hang of it relatively quickly. The columns move as a single piece, but a push of the whole hand actuates the device, which appears to register the position of your fingers via capacitive touch. It's an ingenious mechanism, and I think with a little practice it could start to feel quite seamless. For someone who dislikes spring-powered indie steno machines but doesn't have the budget for a professional lever machine, I think the Steno-Flex could be a lovely solution. If you're interested, be sure to enter your email address in the Steno-Flex's Crowd Supply page to be notified of when the campaign goes live. I'm so happy to see this new entry in the indie steno hardware field!

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