Big Show Kicks Off Big Year for Mobile Productivity
This year's Consumer Electronics Show offered a look into solutions that can make you more effective while on the go. Here's an overview of products and services you should consider implementing in 2011.
January 1, 2011
In the technology world, each new year kicks off not on Jan. 1, but with CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. The largest American trade show of its kind, the yearly event sets the tone for what you can look forward to for tools you rely on in your real estate career.
Since I first started covering CES, the scope of the event has grown in every direction, reflecting how much technology is now integrated into the fabric of our personal and professional lives. There’s so much new, on so many fronts, it can be overwhelming. In the limited space here, let me highlight just a few that may be of interest or value.
If you’ve read any accounts of this year’s CES, you already know the really big news is in tablet PCs. Many vendors are eager to share in Apple’s success with the iPad. Most are embracing Android as the operating system to drive their tablets. For all the CES hoopla, the biggest tablet news won’t come until late January, when Apple is expected to unveil the second-generation iPad, the product to beat in this developing category.
Though it wasn’t at CES, Apple also tempered discussions in the smartphone category, as its long-awaited release of a Verizon version of the iPhone was announced after the event.
As with tablets, many new smartphones this year will run some version of the Android operating system. Several of the most innovative new designs boast the processing power that defined previous generations of mobile PCs. With that power, they can take advantage of the broadband capabilities of faster 4G networks.
Motorola’s new Atrix 4G, for AT&T, sets a notable precedent in its ability for double duty. By plugging the smartphone into its optional docking station, complete with a keyboard, this phone becomes a laptop. The company’s new Droid Bionic for Verizon also has a dual-core 1GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. A couple of other notable new phones with dual-core processors include HTC’s Thunderbolt and LG’s Optimus 2X, with a 4-inch touch screen.
As smartphones continue to gain, so does the variety of programs to empower them. SnapKeys unveiled a new solution for entering text on touchscreen smartphones and tablets with SnapKeys 2i. Is it “the first practical alternative to the traditional QWERTY keyboard,” as the company claims? Check out this demo and decide for yourself.
Samsung announced a new, free mobile printing app for devices running Android or Apple’s iOS. The MobilePrint app allows one-click printing from the device with the company’s wireless printers.
ZoomSafer’s MobileSafer addresses growing concerns about the dangers of texting while driving. Once it’s activated, the app disables the texting and e-mailing functions of Android and Blackberry smartphones while the car is in motion, but can be set to allow hands-free calling.
Security for Systems and Data
Other solutions address worries about losing mobile devices loaded with vital information. Phone Halo’s Cobra PhoneTag, powered by PhoneHalo, combines a smartphone app with key-sized hardware for recovering lost or stolen devices. Attach the tag to your notebook, for example, and the app will find it based on GPS and Google mapping. Lose your smartphone, and the software e-mails you with its last known location.
GadgetTrak Mobile Security 3 from ActiveTrak combines a software recovery system for smartphones and tablets with remote data backup. The software will locate lost or stolen hardware based on GPS, Wi-Fi, and cell-tower positioning and allows you to remotely wipe data from your lost hardware. That information can be recovered through the software’s integrated, automatic data-backup features.
Data access and backup should always be a concern, as you work in different locations on different devices. Several products simplify the process to ensure your client records and listing information are always protected and available.
Indicative of the trend are the latest USB flash drives from Sandisk, for instance. The new Ultra and Cruzer Edge drives are first to feature SecureAccess software, which will eventually be featured in its entire line. The software creates an encrypted, password-protected folder on the drive and provides up to 2 GB of online data storage.
With ClickFree Wireless, starting at $179 for 500 GB of remote data storage, all you need do is plug a module into your USB port and it automatically configures a remote backup of files over a Wi-Fi connection, then continues backing up files as you update or create them. If you prefer to store all data on your hardware, iTwin Remote File Access allows you to retrieve files kept on a primary PC from any USB-enabled device. The $99 system includes two flash drive-sized modules. Plug one into your primary computer and plug the other into any PC connected to the Web, and you can share, retrieve, or edit files as if you’re at your primary computer.
Mobile Presentations and Group Conferences
If you need a compact solution for sharing presentations with several buyers or sellers, check out the latest version of 3M’s pocket projector, the MP180. Brighter than its predecessors, the unit has 4 GB of internal memory, a micro-SD card slot for storing files, a USB port, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support for projecting a wall-sized image from your laptop.
For convening all parties to a transaction to discuss or negotiate a transaction, consider the group-video call-conferencing solution just launched by Skype. For $4.99 for a day’s worth of service or $8.99 per month, the service allows Skype subscribers in groups of three or more to participate in a Webcam-powered videoconference call.
This brief rundown touches on only a few of the many noteworthy announcements coming out of CES. If there’s one thing to come away with, it’s that your career as a mobile real estate professional will be empowered in many ways. In the months ahead, we’ll explore these solutions and trends in greater depth here and in the Buyer’s Guides for REALTOR® Magazine Online.