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What to consider when buying your next computer

Anyone considering buying a computer for business purposes has to consider many things before making the actual purchase.

“I have a wonderful IT guy, and he makes me pinkie swear to talk to him before I buy any major tech. Most times he wants to order it (like business model Dell laptops for use by our in-house videographers), but he let me buy a Surface Pro 3 at the Microsoft Store for my CAT laptop. I then hand it to him, and he configures it,” says Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, of LNS Court Reporting in Portland, Ore., who chairs NCRA’s Technology Committee.

For those who don’t have in-house IT help, the first step in deciding what computer to buy should be to check with the steno machine and CAT system vendors to see what they recommend.

“Start by knowing how much RAM to get (at least 4 GB, but 8 is even better for faster processing) or how large a hard drive to get,” says Lisa A. Knight, RMR, CRR, a freelancer based in Littleton, Colo., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee

The big-box retailers or off-the-shelf models may not offer what a court reporter, captioner, or legal videographer needs. However, they can be a good first stop to find out what is available on the market. (This chart, for instance, gives some information to help people narrow down their choices.)

“For PCs running Intel chips, a good rule of thumb is 2 GB of memory per core on the low end, with 4 GB preferred for memory intensive use (like video). I have a Quad Core i7 Dell Precision portable workstation with 16 GB of RAM, two 750 GB 7200 RPM hard drives, and a high-end video card. It’s overkill for reporters but super for videographers. I speced and sourced it from a live Dell sales person. No stores, and the website didn’t have the options I needed (hint hint). The computer is outstanding,” says Bruce Balmer, CLVS, a legal videographer in Columbia, S.C.

NCRA’s Technology Committee members also pointed out that court reporters and captioners don’t have to automatically eliminate Apple products from their shopping lists.

“My husband bought me a Mac Pro when I passed the CSR. I had to purchase Boot Camp to make it work with my steno machine. Eventually, I got set up, but it was a bit frustrating, and I wondered in the beginning was it worth it, but now I’m happy,” says Teresa Russ, CRI, a court reporter and CART captioner in Lynnwood, Calif.