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Upgrading my gadgets

By Lynette Mueller 

There were so many changes for all court reporters and legal professionals alike since the start of the pandemic last year! And, of course, we were right there to help our clients navigate the entire process of remote proceedings. We focused on learning opportunities and education to get everyone up to speed with remote proceedings so that the legal community could continue important work on their cases. 

After those first three months during the shutdown phase of the pandemic of nearly no court reporting, business has finally come back in 2021 and we are going strong. With the uptick in bookings, of course the jobs forecast has been much more optimistic. With that optimism, I’ve found I personally now have the mindset of growth and am excited to upgrade my deposition setup. While Zoom proceedings are still of the moment our resources and energy are also geared now to include more hybrid proceedings for many different reasons. As court reporters, we need to be able to pivot once again to include this service for our valued clients.  

That being said, I’ve added a few new gadgets to my arsenal the past few months, and I wanted to share them with you here. 

  1. Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard and Carrying Case.  

So, my husband and I share an office. When we both have Zoom calls scheduled for the same time of day, we have a system where one of us will set up in another room. It’s worked out well for us, for sure.  

When I was editing during his Zoom calls, his meeting participants could hear me “clanking” away on my Razer mechanical keyboard. While I loved that keyboard and never minded the extra noise, I decided to ask my brother, who is a hardware engineer at Google, what his keyboard of choice would be. He suggested the Drop CTRL mechanical keyboard. I still have the great touch and feel of the mechanical keyboard but gone are my days of “clanking” away!  

Some of the features: Constructed with a solid aluminum frame with a built-in switch plate, it’s stable and fortified. With dual USB-C connectors, the CTRL is outfitted with the fastest available connections. Aesthetically, the keyboard is equally impressive. Featuring customizable RGB backlighting and underlighting, it puts on a colorful show, or you can set it to a single color for a more subtle look. The shine-through PBT keycaps only enhance the performance. What’s more, the keyboard comes with your choice of switches so you can get just the feel you like — whether you prefer something heavy and tactile or lightweight and linear. 

It is an awesome keyboard, and I’m so glad I found it. They have a price reduction going on right now on their website. Of course, I purchased the carrying case to go along with it because I don’t ever want to use the laptop keyboard when I’m working and on vacation. Highly recommend! 

2. Jabra Speak 750*

I’ve found the best way to conduct a hybrid deposition is to use the speakerphone as the audio source and not connect to computer audio for Zoom. Just be sure to mute the laptop device as well. 

When we are doing the hybrid depo in my office, it’s not a problem because I know what equipment I have, and it just works. For those times, though, when you may be in another location and there’s no speakerphone available, this Jabra Speak 750 Bluetooth external speaker is an excellent option. 

I do use my MacBook Pro for the Zoom computer, which boasts excellent audio quality. I felt I wanted a little boost for my audio source, and this seems to fit the bill so far. This is one of my recent purchases and I’m still in the research phase with this device.  

Some of the features of this speaker are: 

  • The full duplex audio in this conference call speaker allows everyone to speak and be heard simultaneously for fewer interruptions and better collaboration. I think this will be awesome for Zoom depositions too and give me a more in-person feel for the audio. As I said, still in the research phase. 
  • It is supposed to be compatible with all leading Unified Communications platforms, including Skype for Business and is optimized for use with Microsoft Teams. 
  • Conversations will flow as naturally as they do in person with this portable speaker with HD Voice/Wideband Audio, making it ideal for remote meetings. 
  1. PowerPort III 65W Pod  

Just like we have backups for our CAT files, it’s important to have backup chargers for our devices as well. In the age of the hybrid proceedings it’s easy to be in a hurry and forget to bring a charger with you to the proceeding, especially after you’ve had several remote proceedings for a couple of days in a row. I now keep one charger plugged into the wall in my office and another charger stored in my “go” bag for hybrids. 

I love the Anker products and this one is no exception. Their cables are of ultimate quality as well.  

  1. iPhone 13  

My iPhone 13, of course, is a recent purchase. It just worked out that my cellular provider plan was up for renewal. The features of a smartphone are so invaluable to a court reporter’s work life!  

The upgraded camera is one of the best features to me personally. The battery life is significantly improved as well. Definitely worth the upgrade!  

In addition, the smartphone is another great backup option for those Zoom proceedings so you won’t lose any connection for your remote proceeding. I’ve used my iPhone as my screen in the hybrid depo so I can see the remote attorneys’ boxes light up and know immediately who is speaking. No more interrupting to ask who the speaker is! 

  1. OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe Laptop Cleaner  

This is just a fun, low-cost gadget that resides in my “go” bag. I want to ensure my laptop stays clean and looking fresh!  

The retractable brush sweeps away dirt and crumbs, while the specially shaped microfiber cleaning pad reaches into corners to clean smudges, oils, and fingerprints. The storage cap protects the cleaner when not in use. The compact design is perfect for keeping at your desk or in your bag. 

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter based in Memphis, Tenn., and the chair of the NCRA Technology Committee. She can be reached at lynette@omegareporting.com.  

Questions on technology and realtime can be sent to the Committee through jcrfeedback@ncra.org.  

*By using this Amazon association link, NCRA is eligible to make a small commission to help further our cause.

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