Brian Summerfield is the former manager of business development and outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services.
Our look at 2011's tech essentials tackles tablets.
July 1, 2011
Five Key TABLET Features
1. Portability. Because tablets are so slender, compact, and light, some practitioners are starting to choose them over a laptop. And their larger screen sizes make them a more practical solution than a smartphone for displaying content to more than one person.
2. Fast access. Tablets “boot up” almost instantly, as opposed to the several seconds—or even minutes—that it takes to fire up a typical laptop. Also, many tablets connect to 3G and 4G cellular networks, meaning that if you’re in a service area, you can get on the Web—no more looking for hot spots.
3. Sleek interface. Tablets offer a sizable, high-resolution display that’s generally controlled by a touch screen. In a portable device, this is novel. And even though tablets have been used widely for more than a year now, the “wow” factor hasn’t really worn off. They’re just cool and fun.
4. Display. The sharp display makes this platform ideal for visual presentations to buyers and sellers. You can also watch videos, review and edit photos, go over statistics with clients, and pull up Web sites.
5. Virtual documents. Using providers such as DocuSign (a REALTOR Benefits® Program Partner), you can review documents with consumers, have them sign contracts and agreements, and then save or submit them for processing—all through your tablet.
In the Pipeline
Thus far, the explosive growth of tablet PCs has been fueled by apps that reside on your device’s hard drive, rather than an Internet connection. This is understandable given that most Web sites aren’t yet designed for mobile devices. But as the Internet continues to get more mobile-friendly and 4G networks become more common, the Web experience on tablets will become virtually indistinguishable from that of any other computer. As a result, it seems inevitable that the versatility of tablets will eventually make laptops and netbooks obsolete.
The latest and greatest gadget from Cupertino, Calif., is the iPad 2, a tablet that Apple advertises as “Thinner. Lighter. Faster.” Models include Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G networking, each of which comes with 16, 32, or 64 GB of storage, depending on the buyer’s preference and budget. Cost: Starts at $499
Samsung Galaxy Tab
With more than 1 million units sold, this is seen as the primary competitor to the iPad. The Galaxy Tab runs on Honeycomb, Google’s Android OS for tablets. It has 16 GB of expandable memory and a 7-inch touch-screen display. Cost: Starts at $529 (without a service contract)
This 7-inch tablet runs the BlackBerry Tablet OS. It tethers to BlackBerry phones running BlackBerry OS 5 or higher through a feature called BlackBerry Bridge. Cost: Starts at $499
HP Slate 500
This Windows 7–based tablet PC comes with Evernote and features a digital pen. Cost: Starts at $799
This 10.1-inch Android tablet runs on the Honeycomb OS update. Androidauthority.com rated it as “technically superior” to the Galaxy Tab, yet the Galaxy Tab’s the choice for those who want a lighter-weight Android. Cost: Starts at $599