2011 Tech Essentials

Tablets, smartphones, cameras, printers: Smart gear for smart pros.

July 1, 2011

Tablets have been around for years, but these ultra-portable devices really caught on with real estate professionals and the general public alike in early 2010 with the release of Apple’s iPad. That product—and its newer, lighter iteration, the iPad 2—still enjoys a comfortable lead over competing products, but tablets from Samsung and other providers may begin to catch up soon. The real winner of this vendor competition is you, the consumer, who benefits from new functionality, more powerful computing, and interface improvements.

Smartphones are becoming a standard business tool. For most real estate practitioners, a phone with advanced Web and e-mail access is increasingly a requirement. A basic cell phone is just not enough to stay competitive anymore. Indeed, smartphones now outsell laptops and desktop computers, according to PC Magazine. As technology continues to improve, smartphone prices keep dropping to as little as $49 for the iPhone 3 with a service contract.

A camera is among the most valued and utilized resources in a real estate practitioner’s tool kit. Think of photography as the medium for telling the story of a home. Images should draw potential clients in, helping them see a property’s potential. Plus, most sellers expect online promotion with slide shows, virtual tours, and even videos. The great news is most new cameras on the market today are able to capture high-resolution images as well as record HD video. So how do you choose the right one? With so many factors to consider, such as focal length, pixel counts, zoom range, ISO range, shooting modes, and effects, we’ve broken down the essentials to help you choose.

Printer quality has improved in recent years while costs have dropped precipitously. But major decisions still remain: ink-jet or laser; portable or office-based? Most real estate professionals will find that an ink-jet machine under $200 is sufficient for most daily needs. Pricier laser models will fill the bill for larger, high-volume operations. Multifunction machines combine printer, scanner, and copier functions to  handle all your document needs. Entry-level MFMs are well under $100, making them an attractive option for home offices. They also save space since you won’t have to have a separate unit for each task. A mobile ink-jet printer will allow you to print in the field. Back at the office, a color laser model will prove to be a worthy upgrade if your needs include printing color documents in bulk.