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Transcriber laptop requirements

If you are planning to take the TypeWell Basic Skills Course, please see:

Transcribing Course Equipment & Work Area


If you're in the market for a new laptop, you're probably wondering what features to look for. The basic requirements for the transcriber's computer are:

  • Lightweight (under 6 pounds very desirable; under 5 pounds recommended; 3 pounds is best);
  • Long battery life (greater than 3 hours desirable);
  • WiFi (e.g. built-in WiFi card or external WiFi adapter);
  • A comfortable built-in keyboard (use of an external keyboard is discouraged), preferably with the home row situated in the center of the laptop and not offset to the left by a right-hand numeric keypad;
  • A built-in pointing device, such as a touchpad (use of an external mouse is discouraged);
  • 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10, 8, or 7 operating system—or Apple Macs with special software;
  • .NET 3.5 Runtime required (should already be included with Windows 7 and up, downloadable here if needed);
  • No RAM requirement, since any amount that works for Windows will work with TypeWell.

Avoid the urge to get a bigger, more powerful system. For transcribing, smaller is better. You don’t need a large screen or a super-fast processor. With TypeWell's adjustable font sizes, even the smallest computer screens are more than sufficient for readability. Smaller computers are also lighter-weight, and thus better ergonomically for a transcriber to lift and tote around.

However, be careful when considering a laptop that weighs three pounds or less. Some transcribers feel the keyboard is not desirable for lengthy typing sessions. Because an uncomfortable keyboard can potentially lead to injury, we strongly recommend testing out the keyboard in person, by going to a store and trying several models (even if you ultimately purchase online).

One additional option you should consider is an extended warranty. Computers have dozens of operating parts, one or more of which is likely to fail after years of use.