2012 Tablets: Specs That Matter
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2012 Tablets: Specs That Matter
To many in real estate as elsewhere, Apple’s iPad is synonymous with the notion of a tablet. At launch three years ago, Apple’s take on tablet computing legitimized a product category that had been kicking around for years. Ever since, it has dominated sales, spawning a flood of devices while spurring innovation in what most now consider the future of the personal computer.
But is the iPad the right tablet for your real estate needs?
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That depends on what you demand from the tablet experience, what you’re willing to spend, and what’s in place in your market area to make any version a fully viable real estate tool. For reference, though, at least consider the iPad first as the standard by which products in this category are judged.
All tablets offer something comparable in the user experience: intuitive fingertip control of software features and functions on a touchscreen. Where they diverge and differ is in operating systems, design and size, expansion and connectivity options, and hardware features.
The operating system determines the compatible catalog of software apps. Current choices include Apple’s proprietary iOS; Google’s Android; Research in Motion’s Blackberry OS; and present and future versions of Microsoft’s Windows for tablets. Most app developers focus on the iPad market first, although app support for Android continues to expand. What’s relevant, though, is whether the real estate apps you need are available for your preferred device.
As with any computer, key specs include type and speed of the processor, amount of RAM, and available storage for software and documents. The display is both user interface and window to all the tablet offers. There have been significant advances in screen brightness and resolution, but one complaint with early tablets was poor visibility under direct sunlight. If you’ll be using yours outdoors, sample its performance in that environment before buying.
The screen also determines the physical size of the tablet. True tablets are clustered in the 7-inch and 10-inch range and weigh 1.5 pounds or less; hybrid tablet-notebooks can be larger and heavier. A 7-inch model is compact enough to slip into a purse, some pockets, or a pouch. The larger 10-inch models make it easier to comfortably share whatever is on their screen with clients, however.
Most tablets have front- and rear-facing cameras for videoconferencing and photos and HD video, respectively, and built-in support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Higher-end, more expensive versions connect to the Internet over mobile broadband services and the latest 4G networks, and even serve as mobile hotspots for other devices.
In real estate, primary uses of a tablet are for mobile property searches; digital forms and contracts; and sharing tours, maps, and area information with clients. Most MLSs offer — or are developing — a mobile search app for their listings database, but they may not support all platforms. A potential issue with the iPad is lack of support for the Flash format used to display some video tours online. Acceptance of digital signatures, as well as the form they must take, can vary by state or locality.
There are workarounds to every potential challenge. With so many choices, and even more on the way, you should take the time to find your best match. A tablet can prove such an empowering real estate tool that you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.