Brian Summerfield is the former manager of business development and outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services.
Contemplating Tablets for Real Estate
The managing director of NAR's Center for REALTOR® Technology sat down with REALTOR® Magazine to help you determine the best tablet for your needs.
March 15, 2013
Just a couple of years ago, any conversation around tablet computers began and ended with the iPad. Apple’s first iteration of the device, which debuted in 2010, quickly became the most popular solution in that space due to a combination of a well-designed interface, a bundle of compelling features in a portable package, and a galaxy of apps.
Today, Apple remains a leading player in the tablet sector, but the field is getting crowded. Tablets powered by Google’s Android operating system are gaining market share, and Microsoft launched its Surface RT and Pro devices late last year.
With tablet options expanding, how can you decide which is best for you? Both the iPad and the Google Nexus will work for most real estate professionals, says Chad Curry, managing director of the National Association of Realtors®’ Center for Realtor® Technology. Both have an impressive number of apps—in the hundreds of thousands and growing rapidly—many with functionality that allow you to do all kinds of work on your tablet. The Surface products from Microsoft do have some positive qualities, such as a nice display and the ability to use the Office suite, but Curry doesn’t recommend them just yet. They’re in the early stages, with only about 10,000 apps available. And although the Surface machines boast a hefty storage capacity, a good portion of that is taken up with the Windows operating system.
Discover 10 of the most useful mobile apps for real estate practitioners (REALTOR® Magazine, July/August 2012).
For budget-minded shoppers, Curry singles out the Nexus 7. This device, with a 7-inch screen, starts at $199 and is supported by a library of approximately 700,000 Android apps. By comparison, the iPad mini starts at $329—or about $70 below the starting price of the full-sized iPad—and has a 7.9-inch screen and at least 800,000 apps available.
Whatever you settle on, keep these tips in mind while tablet shopping.
Understand the Limitations
The “Holy Grail” of tablet computers is to create a device that has the ability to supplant other productivity tools. Certainly, they’ve come a long way with features, processing power, and storage capabilities in a short period. But tablets aren’t yet versatile or powerful enough to replace your desktop or laptop -computer, he says.
As long as you have a data plan or Wi-Fi access with your tablet, you can use it to prepare client presentations, look up listing information while you’re out in the field, and find and share digital magazine articles. (While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out realtormagdigital.com)
“It’s great for reading, and it’s great for content entry,” Curry says. “I use my tablet a lot to take notes in meetings.”
Don’t Skip the Enhancements
For less than $100 altogether, Curry says, you can add some useful tools to augment your tablet use.
- Keyboards with Bluetooth connections make it easier to type on a tablet. The Logitech K760 is solar-powered and costs about $60.
- A case ($15–$40) allows you to easily carry a tablet, prop it up, and keep it covered.
- Stylus “pens” ($10–$30) enable you to write on the tablet screen.
While smaller devices are easier to carry, larger ones make for easier reading and video watching, so tablet size is largely a matter of personal preference, Curry says. “I would recommend going to a store and trying out these devices to understand which feels best for you.”