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Best computer for work in the field?

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Doug in NC

Thread Starter
Elite Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
North Carolina
I know some appraisers have used the Motion computer, but lately I have seen a new "mini" computer being offered by companies like Dell. Price is about $300. I imagine it will need to be upgraded with memory, but it seems like this could make a good field computer for an appraiser. Small screen size and keyboard might be a problem. I don't know if touch screen is an option. Anyone else giving this a thought? What computer do you recommend for working on inspections?
 

Carnivore

Elite Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
North Carolina
Doug,

I am looking also. Do a google search for mini-laptops, there are quite a few of them now. Some look really good!
 

Wendy

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
Another looker here too.

I want a laptop for field MLS searches and the odd bit of web surfing from the couch. I'd only occasionally use one for writing reports and email (ie: vacations).

Seems like a mini would be nice. I wonder if they are capable of running my appraisal software?
 

David Bailey

Freshman Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Professional Status
General Public
State
Texas
The subnotes or "Netbooks" include full keyboards & are primarily designed for websurfing, although should be able to run many applications. The base models may start around $300-$349, but you'll probably want to opt for the more powerful processor (Atom), more memory (1 MB) and the longer-life battery (6 cell). To surf from the road, you'll still need some sort of dial-up/broadband access or else find a public wi-fi. I've heard of some opting for the blue-tooth module and then being able to connect w/their cell phones, however, this probably depends upon the equipment and carrier.

If you're looking for touch-screen, then you'll probably want a tablet/motion pc instead of a netbook - at least for now.
 

Doug in NC

Thread Starter
Elite Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
North Carolina
Seems like a mini would be nice. I wonder if they are capable of running my appraisal software?
I had thought of that too. I think as long as you have a good processor and adequate memory, it should work. The thing I worry about is the small screen size. I imagine having to do a lot of scrolling to move through the form. Being able to use a sketcher program on such a small screen could also be a problem, but this is why I ask for comments.
 

BlueDog007

Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
South Carolina
Doug-

After much research, I ended up buying a Lenovo X61. It is a touch screen that also swivels into a regular laptop view. I love this machine. I did try using the Apex Mobile sketch software, but found it to be too cumbersome in the field. I think it will be there at some point, but not just yet.

It really depends on you and your routine. If you only do 1 appraisal per day, it may not be worth the investment. The more you do per day, the better the reason to buy one. You can insert your pictures, fill out approximately 75% of the form, go online for MLS, input comparables and make adjustments, email clients, receive orders, etc...all on the road. I complete the sketch at the office. It's a real time saver for me!

I have seen the mini computers as well. If it will run your software, it may be a good investment to try out mobile computing. However, I do love the fact I can simply take the pen and click different drop boxes in my software to form fill quickly. And, it's nice to take with you while traveling. We typed reports on the way out of town for Thanksgiving, and it's nice to have that part complete as soon as you return. I've been appraising since 1993, and it's nice to immediately complete your subject part after inspection, rather than looking at several properties in a day and having to read messy notes or try to remember things about a property. It takes a lot off of your mind doing it mobile.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Arkansas
This may sound crazy, but have you looked at a smart phone?

The new HTC phone (Fuze on AT&T, Diamond on Sprint, and Touch Pro on Verizon) cost about $350.00 and will run both MobileSketch V2.8 by Apex and Pocket Total by Alamode.

To me, this is a much better deal than some of the Sub notebooks. The phone is something that you will us for more than field work, and decreases the overall ROI.

As far as what I use, I have a motion LE1600 with OneNote and Nexus. I also have MobileSketch and Pocket Total on my Fuze as backups.

I got it covered both was. :icon_mrgreen:
 

Tom Woolford

Elite Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
I carry both a laptop and a tablet when in the field. The tablet obviously for site inspection ( which I dearly love ), and the laptop for full screen GPS and easy internet access on the road. The tablet is a great machine but not very friendly for "surfing" even with an on screen keyboard. It does save a bunch of time for data collection / entry. I'm not sure there is one solution for data collection, and typical computer function in a lightweight, manageable machine. When pocket Total first came out I used a Novatel machine (small, laptop type machine, monochromatic screen, huge pop-up antenna, full qwerty keyboard) and it was not very good for data collection. Hard to hold, hard to see, hard to type. The tablet is much superior if you have well developed quick lists, and much of the report is done before you leave the site. If you have it set up properly, the report will be on your desktop when you get back.
 

Bill_FL

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
I use a blue ink pen and paper.

Seriously. I tried using a pocket pc, laptops, and a tablet. I did not like any of them for gathering field data. I make too many notes in the field to type or tap them into a form. My narrative on a typical single family home will often fill half a legal page by the time I talk about additional features, floor plans, quality of construction and the current condition of the improvements. (Thank God for spell check) One of the ones I tried hand a handwriting recognition thing. I think you have to have perfect penmanship for it to work. Needless to say, it did not work for me. I write all over my sketches with notes, my folders, etc.

Now, you wont pry my disto out of my hands. I love it. I just find it easier for me to write and sketch by hand, then sit at my desk and take my time to put my thoughts together and draw the improvements.
 
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BlueDog007

Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
South Carolina
My tablet didn't recognize my handwriting at first either, but after several "mistakes", it began to understand what I typed and what it was supposed to mean. Doug, if you take as many notes as Bill does, the tablet is the way to go. I was so tired of re-typing what I had already written, it just made sense to buy the machine that would do this for me. I've also had them all, ranging from the Dell Axim to the laptop to now the Lenovo X61. Yes, it was pricey, but it paid for itself EASILY the first month I had it. As you get older, you realize how much your TIME is really worth! The hours the tablet saves me weekley, monthly, and yearly will really add up. Do yourself a favor, buy one before the end of the year and have an additional tax write off. They have some good deals going on now.
 
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