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  #1  
Old 09-02-2009, 10:25 AM
ShaneCoughlin ShaneCoughlin is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
State: Illinois
Professional Status: Certified Residential Appraiser
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Default Anyone Using Tablet Pc? Opinions Please

I Am Considering Taking A Tablet Pc Into The Feild To Start My Reports And Sketch. I Tried This With A Laptop In The Car A Few Years Back But Scrapped It Because I Had To Do The Inspection Then Transfer To The Pc And Basically I Could Move The Info Faster In The Office. Anyone Using This Type Of System Please Let Me Know How It Really Works In The Field. I Do Not Want To Spend The Money And Then Not Use The Stuff.
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Old 09-02-2009, 01:45 PM
Tom Woolford Tom Woolford is online now
 
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I've been using a tablet for about 3 years now, currently a Motion 1700. I start the file in WinTotal, transfer it to the tablet, and do all my data collection and sketch on the tablet. Any free form things like sketching barns, detailing deferred maintenance etc, I do with Windows Journal. The journal file is then included in wintotal's digital work file. I Highly reccommend using a tablet.
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  #3  
Old 09-02-2009, 01:48 PM
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RSW RSW is online now
 
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I was using a Gateway Tablet but have recently moved to a Motion 1400. I got it on Ebay for a good price. I don't use a sketching program but rather scanned my sketch paper as a jpg file and use it as a template in WinJournal. I like to be able to write notes on my sketch pad while out in the field. I've been doing this for almost 4 years now. No more paper files.
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  #4  
Old 09-08-2009, 11:46 PM
DAR2116 DAR2116 is offline
 
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Default WinSketch concerns

Sorry if I'm butting in here, but I am starting to think I need to be more productive and I'm hoping a tablet pc is the way to go. My concerns center around the sketch. As I referenced above I am tied to WinSketch and don't know if/how a tablet and/or the tablet o/s cooperates with it. I can't see taking a tablet to my inspections and having to drag a clipboard along seperately for the sketch.

Can anyone help me understand this better?
  #5  
Old 09-09-2009, 06:47 AM
Tom Woolford Tom Woolford is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAR2116 View Post
Sorry if I'm butting in here, but I am starting to think I need to be more productive and I'm hoping a tablet pc is the way to go. My concerns center around the sketch. As I referenced above I am tied to WinSketch and don't know if/how a tablet and/or the tablet o/s cooperates with it. I can't see taking a tablet to my inspections and having to drag a clipboard along seperately for the sketch.

Can anyone help me understand this better?
Anything youu can do on a desktop, you can do on a tablet. Simple as that. I just use Wintotals built in sketcher.
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  #6  
Old 09-09-2009, 07:04 AM
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Wintotal has the Da Vinci sketch program that works on a tablet pc. Try that if you wish.
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  #7  
Old 09-09-2009, 08:29 AM
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Randall Garrett Randall Garrett is offline
 
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DAR2116 - Which forms company do you use? That might make a difference in which sketch program works best for you.

Anyway, says she is "tied to WinSketch", which I suspect means a file format issue or she simply likes or is comfortable with the way it works so I don't think the ALM program fits the bill. Since I am the "Apex guy" I will stay away from recommending our products. To directly address the WinSketch side of things, AreaSketch Pro (the replacement for WinSketch) has a simple and effective method for use on a Tablet PC. They have a short video on their site - www.areasketch.com. Alternately, as others have pointed out, simply scribbling on a page in MS Journal (or much superior OneNote) will let her replicate the "paper" experience, but she loses out on getting calcs before she leaves the site.

One of the most important items to consider is the actual device for use in the field. Consider these things carefully as selecting the wrong device or options will have a huge impact on how productive you actually are in the field. One of the biggest things is an indoor-outdoor screen - the device is no good if you cannot SEE the screen outdoors. Also, the weight is a factor for most. The choices are slim right now, but I foresee a big change in the next 6 - 8 months with regard to size, weight, cost and screen technology.

Hope this helps!

-Randall Garrett-
..Apex Software..
  #8  
Old 09-09-2009, 09:19 AM
ShaneCoughlin ShaneCoughlin is offline
 
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My concerns are also with the sketch and I do use apex. My biggest hitch when I mentally do an inspection with the tablet in hand is that i stand in front of the house, draw the first and second levels, measure then put the dimensions on the drawing. This way I only circle the house once and have the skech and all exterior notes. Probably not gonna happen exatly in a sketch program that way, I know, but i would want to be able to have the frist and second levels open in a program and be able to sketch them simultaneously as I walk around the house. The other stuff has obvious limitations as far as notes go etc but the sketch is probably my biggest hurdle. I can inspect a cookie cutter Colonial in 10-20 minutes or even a McMansion in 20-30 minutes no problem and have very good notes with the paper form I use. In order for the tablet to be an efficient alternative it would need to pretty mutch match that time with good notes in it. Any tablet pc users who would comment on inspection times would be greatly appreciated? I mentally cannot get away from the paper because of the speed and note quality from jotting and sketching in one area. as DARR116 above said I pretty mutch see myself with both a tablet and a piece of paper somehow. I would also like to thank all of the participants in this thread, it is very informative and a big deal to me personally.
  #9  
Old 09-09-2009, 09:50 AM
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Randall Garrett Randall Garrett is offline
 
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Shane,

After reading your post, I think the biggest factor to consider is whether or not you need area calculation capability in your tablet sketch program. If not, from what I read, I think you should consider using something generic and inexpensive (yet very powerful) like OneNote 2007. Many times, when ordering a Tablet PC, this can be pre-installed for $20. Journal is "free" but inferior IMHO. If you want instant area calculations, you need to go a step further and feed in measurements so a program can create shapes, etc. to make calculations from so the input is a little more restrictive than a "scribble pad" but then it gives you something in return... ;-)

What some folks do is just use something like OneNote and just scribble like they do on paper/clipboard. If they want calcs before they leave the site, they use a notebook or cheap netbook in the car to bang out the dimensions, get calcs or resolve any squaring issues before leaving the site.

If you are not doing all or most of the data gathering on the Tablet and storing it in a way your current forms program can use, why get a Tablet PC vs. just put a netbook (or similar) in the car? Unless you invest in a really good device with a proper outdoor screen, the screen won't be very usable - nowhere near as legible as paper. I see a lot of appraisers get cheap tablets with crummy screens and they end up being disappointed with their investment. As I mentioned earlier, the view-ability/cost/weight thing is about to change so unless you have a complete solution within ACI, I question the wisdom of investing in a Tablet at this time.

I am a geek and have many, many tablets and similar devices. I think it is fair to say I even know a little about measuring and sketching, LOL... You could use our Nexus program right now to sketch and take notes, then transfer the data to Apex, but this is not about selling you something. It is about you carefully considering "want" vs. "need" and weighing the cost/benefit ratios. If you just want to calculate the areas, take your notes on paper/clipboard and get a used Pocket PC or SmartPhone and run MobileSketch (that file will load directly into your existing Apex if it is even remotely recent - 7 or 8 years?) The PPC/SmartPhone is way less than even a used tablet, fits in your pocket and has other uses besides. I understand the vision of an electronic clipboard with something that calculates from your sketch scribbles (really, I do, LOL) but the current state of hardware makes it so a device like this is more expensive than you might like, is heavier than most really like, and has screen readibility issues. That may all change soon, but right now, that is simply how it is. We have customers that use tablets successfully, but they have a dedicated software platform/infrastructure to coordinate everything. I don't think ACI has made the commitment to Tablet/Mobile as of yet, so my advice would be to look to a different device for efficiency gains - something like a D5 or D8 - and wait to see what shakes out in the tablet/pad arena over the next few months.

If you are bound and determined to get a Tablet now, I understand... ;-) If you'd like, we can get you signed up for a free Nexus webinar so you can watch how it is done, ask questions, etc. with no investment other than a few minutes of your time.

Hope this helps!

-Randall Garrett-
..Apex Software..
  #10  
Old 09-09-2009, 01:39 PM
DAR2116 DAR2116 is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
State: Maryland
Professional Status: Licensed Appraiser
Posts: 4
Default Tablet PC details

First let me thank everyone for their input with my problem/question. Next please allow me to clarify a few points...I am a he/him (no biggie), I use ACI with Winsketch (because the owner used it to train me and it is on the desktop he provides and on my home pc and laptop), I am opposed to carrying both a tablet and a clipboard but not opposed to using a note taking application as I do not currently calculate the gla just verify front/back and left/right numbers b/4 leaving the site, I am also too young to be "old school" but old enough to want a phone for phone calls and a computer for computing, a wheel for measuring, etc... (I will probably be dragged kicking and screaming into this millenium soon though).

If I can complete my subject/first page info and sketch with notes while on site in a tablet it seems like an opportunity to be more productive. How would the sketch and notes get into the file? Would that be a page I would need to print to include in the workfile?

I also am a planner in the respect that I will research the options before jumping in. This is a decision I may be making for the new year or at least later this year.

The indoor/outdoor screen issue is huge I agree but I am also thinking about weight, durability(they probably don't drop well, I assume) and battery life.

There is still a good deal to learn from the people in places like this, thank you again for all the help.
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