Tripod vs. Lap Desk Showdown: Who Will Win?

Written by Lauren N. Lawrence, RPR

February 5, 2023

As a court reporter or stenographer, you know the importance of having the right equipment.  Whether in the courtroom, at a deposition, or reporting from home, finding the ideal setup can be crucial for your long-term, overall physical health.  While steno machines typically sit atop a tripod, a recent Facebook post from our very own Stenovate founder, Lauren Lawrence, caused quite a stir!  (She was just trying to talk about Taco Tuesday, but the lap desk got all the attention!)

Lauren uses a lap desk instead of a tripod because she believes it provides her with comfort and support she doesn’t feel she can receive while using a tripod.  We understand this is a personal decision, but since she received so many questions about her lap desk, we decided to write a blog to answer your questions!

Let’s break down the pros and cons to see if a lap desk makes sense for you!


Tripod Pros and Cons


A tripod is lightweight and portable, making it great for on-the-go, in-person proceedings.  It also has adjustable height and tilt to find your ideal steno machine position quickly and easily.  Plus, because the tripod stands alone on the floor, you don’t have to worry about where to set it on breaks for during lunch!

But there are a few drawbacks to using a tripod as well.  Because there’s no wrist support, your wrists may become strained over time if you don’t purchase an additional accessory (which requires extra setup for each in-person proceeding).  Also, it’s common for reporters to report arm, back, and neck strain because the steno machine can only get so close to you without a special court reporter chair with a tripod cutout.  (Yes, they do make them!)

Most chairs, especially at law firms, are built for prominent, professional men!  #Facts  If you’re smaller than the average male, the seat is likely not designed to be ergonomic for you.  So you have to choose between sitting on the edge of your seat or using the back of the chair while extending your arms for long periods, potentially causing you to “hunch” forward throughout the proceeding if you’re not keeping perfect posture top of mine (or your body is just…tired).

Again, this will vary from person to person.  Still, it’s no secret that court reporters experience a variety of physical ailments, which is why our Stenovate team believes you deserve regular, guilt-free massages!


Lap Desk Pros and Cons


There are a few things that you may need to adjust to when using a lap desk.  The height is based on your lap!  And you can’t do a deep tilt (you know who you are!), but keep reading to see why you may not need those features once you’re extra comfy in your chair.  Also, while the lap desk is certainly not as small and portable as a tripod, it does boast some significant benefits and may be worth the transport effort.

First and foremost, with a lap desk, you can position your machine as close or as far away from your body as you like, allowing you to sit all the way back in the chair, utilizing the back support (and even neck support if your chair is tall enough)!  Your arms can also rest comfortably in an ergonomic, L-shaped position.  Plus, the right lap desk provides built-in wrist/arm support to keep your hands level with the keys so that your arms and wrists won’t get tired over time.

And while you may not be brave enough or desire to swivel and/or rock when you first start using a lap desk, a lap desk provides more flexibility to reposition.  Lauren even comfortably crosses her legs during less intense (slow and easy) depositions.




Both tripods and lap desks have their advantages and disadvantages.  Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for each individual court reporter or stenographer based on their needs/preferences.  If portability is critical for you, then a tripod will probably be the better choice.  However, if you’re experiencing wrist, arm, neck, and/or back strain and can tolerate less portability, a lap desk may be in your future!

If you’re reporting a healthy mix of remote and in-person depositions, maybe try a lap desk for when you’re at home and a tripod for when you’re away!  Within two proceedings, you’ll quickly know if a lap desk is suitable for you and worth taking to in-person depositions.  Ultimately, both options are viable choices—it just comes down to what works best for YOU!


The Stenovate team is ALL about making life easier for court reporters.  This article contains an affiliate link.  If you choose to purchase the specific lap desk mentioned in this article, a small commission goes directly back into the Stenovate product, improving the platform and adding new, highly-requested features!  Obviously, this lap desk is just one option, and we encourage you to explore what works best for you! 

As always, we love helping you organize your transcript deadlines, details, and files and facilitating streamlined, smooth collaboration with your favorite scopists and proofreaders!  Please don’t hesitate to contact if you have any questions!  We’re here to help. 

Interested in Stenovate’s organization and collaboration platform for reporters, scopists, and proofreaders?  Start a 30-day free trial!  No contract.  No commitment.  Cancel anytime.



More Pages. Less Hassle.

Stenovate simplifies transcript management to help busy reporters, scopists, and proofreaders to produce more pages with less hassle.

All-In-One Transcript Management & Collaboration Platform

Designed for Individuals or Transcript Teams

Centralize Job Information

Streamline Workflow

Reduce Wasted Time

Increase Productivity

More Pages. Less Hassle.

Stenovate simplifies transcript management to help busy reporters, scopists, and proofreaders to produce more pages with less hassle.

All-In-One Transcript Management Collaboration Platform

Share Files with Ease

Track Progress from Start to Finish

Built for Individuals or Transcript Teams

Scoping & Proofing Job Boards

Social Feeds