Tuesday
July 29, 2014

2012 Gadgets: Specs That Matter For Real Estate

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2012 Gadgets: Specs That Matter For Real Estate

Here are some key features and functions for real estate professionals.

For real estate professionals, staying up-to-date on technology is something of a chase. They must continually embrace and reinvest in the new to keep pace with peers and meet the evolving expectations of client buyers and sellers.

Early adopters are already reaping the benefits, and many more will make investments in 2012 that can bring them up to speed. Here’s a look at some of the key product categories in the coming year:

Smartphones

For real estate practitioners, these handheld computer-communications hubs are now essential to mobile productivity. According to the Center for REALTOR® Technology’s 2011 REALTOR® Technology Survey Report, smartphones top many wish lists. Thirty-eight percent of respondents indicated plans to purchase or replace a smartphone in the next 12 months.

While there will always be loyalists to each of the smartphone operating systems, the choice for most will come down to one of the many Android phones now available or some version of Apple’s iPhone. The speed of the processor and the device’s memory, camera, screen size, user interface, and availability of real estate apps should all figure in the decision. Ultimately, though, it comes down to service availability — which smartphone, from which carrier, guarantees a fast connection and uninterrupted service wherever your work day takes you.

Tablet PC

For convenience and user comfort when accessing the Web, making a presentation, or capturing a digital signature, a touchscreen tablet makes sense as your most mobile PC. The same survey finds 28 percent of respondents planning to add an iPad, still the standout product in this burgeoning category.

Don’t count Android tablets out, however. Motorola’s Xoom, Samsung’s Galaxy, Lenovo’s ThinkPad, and even Amazon’s Kindle Fire may be viable alternatives for who balk at biting into Apple’s offerings.

It all depends on what you want from the tablet experience and how you plan to use it. Apps should weigh in your decision. Before you buy, make sure the real estate tools you need are available for Android or the iPad.

As functional as a tablet can be, though, you should approach it as a handy and versatile extension of whatever you choose as your primary computer.

Notebook

For most real estate professionals, their primary computer — and the foundation of their suite of technology products — should be a notebook. While some still prefer the presence of a desktop system, the current line-up of notebooks offer an affordable, powerful alternative.

For many, that is a primary need. CRT’s survey finds 32 percent of real estate professionals still run Windows XP. An upgrade to a newer notebook that runs Windows 7 promises benefits in power, performance, and compatibility with the latest software, both in the cloud and offline. For some, an Apple notebook may make sense for seamless integration with their iPad or iPhone. And for those who are convinced their future is in the cloud, there’s a merging new category of affordable Chromebook notebooks designed specifically for that.

Digital Camera

The latest cameras deliver higher-resolution image sensors (10 megapixels, at least), higher zooms with wide-angle capabilities, and more automated features and will capture stills and HD video.

Most property photos still end up in Web tours or as standard-sized prints. However, smartphone cameras are improving. Also, accessory lens adapters are becoming available, which could make your smartphone the only camera you need.

If that’s not good enough, step away from low-end, inexpensive digital cameras for features to help make more compelling presentations, like ultra-wide panoramic settings, low-light capabilities, and even geo-tagging of photos. For serious photographers and those with time to master the craft, a high-end compact or digital SLR gives you the most creative control over your pictures.

Printer/Scanner/Copier

All-in-one ink-jet printers are now so affordable — starting well under $100 — you can easily justify purchasing a new model every year. Even color laser printers, starting in the $300 range, are practical considerations for the home office. If you are planning to add a new printer in 2012, consider improvements in print speed, automatic duplex (two-sided) printing, or a larger print area as step-up incentives.

Paper documents are not about to entirely disappear into the cloud, so scanning to PDF and e-mail remain important functions. In fact, if there’s one standalone product you may want to consider adding this year, it’s a mobile scanner that will allow you to digitize contracts and documents while out and about.