Seasonal Savings: Have a High-Tech Holiday

Ring in the New Year with these new tech gadgets that can help you grow your business.

December 1, 2006

Whether you’ve been postponing a tech upgrade for too long or you’re looking to squeeze in one more business deduction before 2006 ends, you’ll find December is a prime time to invest in new tools that will boost your productivity.

Why make a purchase now? Holiday sales allow you to get more for your money, whatever your budget.

But before you go on a holiday spending spree, take a quick assessment of what technology you’ve been using, and where it might make sense to replace old with new. In fact, if it’s been two or more years since your technology tools were upgraded, you’ll probably find ample cause to step up to a newer and improved version.

Here, I’ll take a look at a few key tech categories for the real estate business: laptops, digital cameras, GPS tools, and printers. I also will share with you some more affordable gadgets that can make your job easier in 2007.

Laptops

Real estate professionals regularly work away from their desk so a notebook computer is practically a necessity. If you use a desktop system, you can now confidently make the switch to a notebook as your primary computer: The latest notebook introductions deliver ample performance that fit typical real estate needs and entry prices have fallen to levels that make them extremely attractive alternatives to a desktop system. Here are three new notebook options:

  • Dell’s Inspiron 1501.The Inspiron 1501 costs just $549 in its basic configuration and includes a Mobile AMD (Advanced Micro Device) 1.8GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 60GB hard drive, 3-in-1 media card reader, Wi-Fi networking card, and a 14.4-inch wide screen. For $100 more, the model can be upgraded with an AMD Dual Core Processor for even faster performance.
  • Gateway NX570. For $699.99 — based on a $200 instant savings offer through the end of December — Gateway has added its NX570 series with 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo Processor, 512MB of RAM, 80GB hard drive, CD-RW/DVD drive, Wi-Fi networking, and a 15.4-inch screen display.
  • MacBook notebook. For those of you who’ve been considering switching to a Mac, now may be the time. You can run both OS X and Windows software with Apple Boot Camp. The entry price is $1,099 for the company’s latest MacBook notebook, which includes a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo Processor, 512MB of RAM, 60GB hard drive, built-in Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth support, and a 13.3-inch widescreen monitor.

Digital Cameras

Digital cameras are where you’re going to find some big holiday bargains, which will make it difficult to resist new models. Fuji’s A700, just $199, is representative of current entry level digital cameras. It features a 7.3-megapixel image sensor, 3X optical zoom, and a 2.4-inch LCD for easier viewing of images.

Kodak’s new EasyShare Z710 Zoom combines a 10X optical zoom lens with 7.1-megapixel sensor and 2-inch LCD for just $249.

If you shoot a lot of home interiors to promote listings, you’ll want to find cameras with wide-angle lenses. Such models will be designated as having a lens equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm film camera, or less. Only a few cameras have this capability built-in, such as the Canon PowerShot SD800 with a 7-megapixel sensor and 3.8X optical zoom wide-angle lens, selling for under $400.

For more creative control with wide-angle capability, investigate the growing selection of digital SLRs (single lens reflex), which take interchangeable lenses. Ritz Camera is offering a bundle on the Pentax K100D Digital SLRs, packing the camera body with a wide angle 18mm-55mm lens, for $699.

GPS Options

If you could benefit from instant access to local map and detailed point-to-point driving directions, you might find one of these new GPS navigation systems a perfect gift for yourself:

  • Garmin Mobile 10. The Mobile 10 brings GPS navigation capabilities to any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, PDA, and notebook — all in a $199 kit.
  • Navman’s Navpix. These GPS devices allow you to take pictures of homes with a built-in digital camera and then select those pictures when you want directions to that destination.The portable $499 N40i combines this feature with a 3.5-inch color touch sensitive display and turn-by-turn spoken directions.
  • Palm Treo. If you’re a Palm Treo user, you’re in luck. You can add direction and map capabilities to your smartphone for free. The company is offering free downloads of Google Maps software to those who own Treo models 600, 650, 680, and 700p. To get the software, visit www.google.com/gmm from your Treo Web browser.

Printers

Prices have dropped drastically on nearly every type of printer, making it easy to upgrade your capabilities — whether you need a new printer for your home office or company workgroup.

Personal color laser printers have now dipped below $300 with Konica’s Minolta’s launch of the $299 Magicolor 2500W. On the inkjet side, the trend leans more toward affordable multifunction inkjets, like Hewlett Packard’s C3100 series, an all-in-one color printer/scanner/copier, with prices starting at $99.

Look for a more complete buying guide to the latest printers in the January 2007 issue of REALTOR® Magazine.

Don’t Forget the Extras

You can upgrade your tech arsenal with some more modest expenditures, too. For instance, Plantronics offers an entire series of Bluetooth-enabled headsets for use with compatible phones, starting with the Explorer 320 for $69.95.

The storage capacity of portable USB Flash drives continue to increase as prices fall, such as 1GB versions like the SanDisk Cruzer Mini, priced at $59.99 but often discounted.

The lull after the holidays also might be the perfect time to set up that wireless network in your home office. One option at a relatively low cost is the Netgear RangeMax Wireless Router and USB Adapter Bundle, which is offered through Dell for $143.

The bottom line: Whatever your technology needs and your upgrade capabilities, ‘tis prime time to buy.

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