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.


The Gear:

iPad 2

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)

BlackBerry PlayBook

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

Motorola Xoom

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

Brian Summerfield is the former manager of business development and outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services.