NJ Star Software Review
Ease of obtaining software
Despite not being an everyday need for most people, this software is relatively easy to obtain. One can simply do a google search of NJ Star free download and be taken to a link in which they can download the software or visit http://www.njstar.com/cms/njstar-communicator-download. The download is free for the first 30 days. No credit card is required for the trial period. Approaching the end of the 30 day trial period, when opening the software you will be reminded of how many days you have left to use it and be given options as to whether you will uninstall the program or purchase the full version.
How to Use
NJ Star actually has components to transcribe into Japanese, but also Chinese and Korean as well. Be sure to download the correct version to make sure you are typing in the correct language. Also, if you noticed that upon opening NJ Star that you do not recognize what it is asking you to do, go to the Input or Help menus to ensure you are in the correct language.
At the bottom of the screen, in the left corner, you will need to choose the input/output method for what you type in will be. Choices are Romaji, Kana kanji, and Eisuu (English coding ASCII). With the exception of Romaji, these options are written in Japanese. You can run the cursor over them and an explanation will appear if you need it.
If you use Romaji, you will type in a word with the Romanized letters on your keyboard using Japanese pronunciation. You could type in hana, or flower, for example. Before anything appears where your cursor is on the screen, you will see several choices for the output pop up along the bottom of the screen. Your choices will be in either katakana, hiragana, and kanji or a mixture of kanji and hiragana. Each of the choices is numbered. You then hit the number for the choice you want to use. The writing for that choice will then appear on the screen and you will be free to move on to the next word.
Using Kana Kanji, you can type in the word in Japanese and see it appear immediately on the screen in hiragana. Using Kanji is much more complex with this function.
If you use the Eisuu function, you will be typing words in English with the standard English alphabet, or Japanese words in Romaji, just as you would if using Word.
To change the functions simply click on them and it will proceed to the next option.
As you can tell, typing in Japanese, due to the multiplicity of options in writing each word, the task is very time consuming. Even the fastest typers will get caught up in changing fonts and choosing options in how to compose each word. I have not seen a program for Word Processing in Japanese that does not run in to this issue.
The benefits of choosing NJ Star however, are that under the Tools menu, you can also find other helpful functions such as a dictionary, glossary, kanji of the day, and verb generator. These tools can help non-native speakers improve their Japanese.
For those who are getting rusty and losing their kanji, this program is also a great way to keep practicing and refreshing one's memory on the different ways each word can be written.
Teachers can use this as a tool as well for those students who are in the transition process of using only one of the basic scripts like hiragana or katakana, to step up to using the three scripts at once. They will learn new kanji this way, and new pronunciations. Students can also check their work using the program and practice reading Japanese more fluently.