Monday
September 1, 2014

2012 Computers: Specs That Matter

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2012 Computers: Specs That Matter

Mac or Windows? Tower or tablet? These are the kinds of questions you’ll have to ask as you shop for computers.

You can’t pursue a real estate career today without some form of computer. It’s a required tool for exploring your market, promoting yourself and your listings, communicating with clients, and managing the responsibilities that come with any business.

In fact, most real estate professionals now use some combination of computing systems: a primary computer for the desk at home or the office and a mobile extension of it for working in the field.

A few real estate pros use all the current options: smartphone, tablet, other mobile device, and desktop. Most pare their needs down to an essential two or three. In every category, whatever your budget, you’ll be pleased with your choices.

Still, most real estate professionals require some type of primary computer. That can be a traditional desktop system with a monitor or some variety of notebook. The biggest change on the desktop is the increased availability of space-saving all-in-one systems.

In these, all components are packed inside the case with the flatscreen monitor. Today’s LCD displays are larger as well, with screens of at least 20 inches the new minimum. If your desk is cluttered, one of these self-contained systems, which start under $1,000, will be a welcome replacement.

Those who are satisfied with their present monitor but who have an old computer that just drags can save more simply by upgrading to a new tower. Starting under $500, these boast the latest specs in processors, RAM, hard drive, networking, and expansion options.

A growing share of real estate professionals now rely on some type of portable device as their main computer. If that makes sense for you, your choices include standard notebooks, dual-function convertible notebook-tablet PCs, and fully loaded desktop-replacement laptops. Prices start well under $1,000 and climb as high as you’re willing to go.

In addition, there’s a new category of “ultrabooks” that has emerged since the last time you shopped for a mobile PC. Thin (less than an inch), light (three pounds or less), and targeted at consumers, they should appeal to anyone who now relies on software and storage in the cloud.

Today’s real estate professionals should also weigh the merits of whether their next PC should run Apple’s OS X or Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Many in real estate who started with an iPhone smartphone and then added an iPad tablet are choosing MacBooks or iMacs for a seamless, integrated experience across devices. Windows 8 promises the same consistency among Windows-powered phones, tablets, and computers.

With the ongoing migration to the cloud — online applications and storage — it’s the access your computers provide for productivity anywhere that could become their most important feature. For most users over the foreseeable future, that requires some combination of devices represented in the product chart.