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Tablet PC or Laptop to finish "in the field"

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ockyappraiser

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Kentucky
I have read many threads in this forum of appraisers starting to process on site to maximize down time. In looking at my own situation, I spend a great deal of time between appointments. All my processing is done in the evenings. I believe that if I space my appointments 2-3 hours apart, I can process on site and email out. . .and not have to process at night anymore.

My questions: go with Tablet or laptop. The Compaq Tablet is $1800. By the time you add drives, docking station, modem, etc you are up to $2200 and still only have a mediocre performer. However, you can take it in the house and fill out/sketch as you go. For $1,500 I can have a top end lap top with a really big screen. I would do the walk through/inspection on paper as before, and complete it in the car on the laptop and email out.

Which would really save the most time? I am leaning towards doing the inspection on paper then completing on laptop. I think I would be faster with paper rather than switching screens on the tablet as I went.
 

KD247

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Mark,

I use a laptop to write up the appraisal immediately after seeing the subject and comparable sales. I do one job at a time, start to finish, and get upset when I need to return with different comparable sales.

But, that's me. Some appraisers like to do ten inspections on one day and then do the research, comp inspections, and writing over the next week. In my opinion, that makes the job twice as hard because of the effort involved in remembering the important appraisal factors and sorting out the photos for each job. I always prefer to drive away with the job 100% completed.

When tablets become less expensive, assuming that appraisal software becomes more tablet-friendly, I'll buy one. It seems silly to write something down and then type it into the computer just a few minutes later. But... a tablet would probably just spur the homeowner's curiosity and look like an invitation for the borrower to participate in the appraisal process. There's no such temptation with a clipboard.

Also, with currently available software, I like a big screen. A 15" lcd lets me look at six comparables side by side, or divide the screen into two windows, one for assessor's or MLS data and the other for the form. The tablet screens are mostly smaller.

Most of the new laptops have wireless networking. It's pretty cool to pull up in front of a Starbucks, log on to their network, and then look up the final data to complete the report.

In spite of all this, I still prefer my desktop computer for preparing the report before going out into the field. I don't mind using the laptop's keyboard and touchpad in the field, but would rather use a regular keyboard and trackball at my desk.

Costco is a local big-box store. Costco.com has great prices on computers and a SIX-MONTH no-questions-asked 100% refund policy.

If you get the tablet, let us know how it works out for you.
 

ockyappraiser

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Kentucky
Thanks for the ideas. What prompted my going this way was a thread in the "general" forum where some appraisers were doing away with "down time" by processing between appointments. Also, like you, I have found that I tend to forget some details if I get a stack of 6-8 and process all at one time.

My thinking is that I can see and complete 3 appraisals in a day if I space them apart and process at the site (or at the McD's).

I like the idea of using a tablet for the field report part. but with paper, I find myself going back and forth between the sketch and comments. I think the tablet would actually slow me down during the walk through.

Also. . .$1,500 buys a killer laptop. The tablet is going to come in around $2,200 by the time I add the drives, etc.
 

Ed Potrafke

Sophomore Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2002
Mark,

Have you considered a pocket pc and a laptop? Dell makes a dandy pocket pc for only $200 after a $50 rebate. You could use this for your inpsection, then finish it on the laptop.
 

ockyappraiser

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Kentucky
I thought of running Pocket Total. If the idea is to finish while I'm out. . .in other words to process during the in between inspection times. . .how would I update the laptop with the pocket total/PDA info while either in the car or at Starbucks?

I can see the upside of filling out the walk through info on the Pocket computer. . .but am I saving any time? Seems if I am going to take anything in with me to the house. . .might as well use a tablet.
 

cgjerdetu

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Mark

I think tablets will become a viable tool for appraisers, but not sure the cost/benefit analysis works just yet. The less expensive tablets out now, toshiba, viewsonic, etc, do not have the type of screen (transvlective) that allow easy viewing outdoors. Most of the pocket pc's available now do have transvlective screens. If I were to get a tablet right now I would try to take it on a small testdrive outside and see if it is useable.

If you went with a pocket pc and a laptop (still less than the current price of the tablets), you could use a USB Travel Synch Cable (just a portable cable from the laptop to the pocket pc) that would transfer the data to the laptop in the field.

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu
(Soon to be a pocket total user, Dell Axiom pocket PC is on order)
 

ockyappraiser

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Kentucky
Is your plan then to use the pocket computer on the walk through, then transfer to the laptop and finish up in the car or at the corner fast food?

The price of the Dell certainly looks good. How does it compare with the IPaq?

I agree with you, I think the cost of the tablet, and the limited performance are too big of negatives right now. For the $1,800 price of the lowest tablet. . .I can get a kickin laptop, the pocket PC, and portable printer.

Now just need a larger car. .maybe an SUV!
 

cgjerdetu

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
My plan is just to use Pocket Total to do the inspections and finish the report at the office, but I work a small geographic region and I'm never usually more than 20 minutes from the office. I also ordered a portable keyboard for the Dell and if I did have some downtime, might find that would be suitable for some data entry in the car. Remind me in a month or so to update you about the keyboard.

Dell Axiom vs. Ipaq, from information I've learned from the Wintotal users group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Total2000UsersGroup/ the Ipaq has a little better screen, but quite a bit more expensive.

It looked like from a previous message that you are running ACI, have you heard anything from them on when their Pocket PC based software will be out? (I think it is called Pocket Zoo). Pocket Apex only works on a pocket PC type machine, not a Palm based system.

Carolyn
 

Ed Potrafke

Sophomore Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2002
Mark,

I believe that the pocket pc syncs via usb, and all laptops sold nowadays have usb ports.
I haven't actually seen a Dell in person yet, but the the reviews that I read have been nothing but good(with the exception of crummy customer service, but we use appraisal software and are used to that). Supposedly a real good buy for the money.
I've also been kicking around the idea of trying pocket real estatewww.pocketrealestate.com but I haven't been able to find anyone who has tried it.
One more thing to think about. Most laptops can be had cheaper if you buy one with a desktop processor, rather than a mobile processor. The battery life is shorter, but a car adapter takes care of that.


Ed
 
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