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  1. #1
    Scott Murdock's Avatar
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    Default Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Is anyone using a net book instead of a PDA or laptop for input of reports? If so pro's and con's please and if happy any useful information. I am currently looking at adding a Net Book or PDA and am looking for advise, Thank you.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I recently bought a netbook and, for the field, I prefer it over my notebook 7 pounds over ...

    Okay, so I have to put my glasses on to read it, but it is still large enough to see and use the keyboard on.

    Those small PDA? Never had one as I never liked their small screens and keyboards and that stylus.

    The first notebook computer I had was a Compaq Aero, basically the same size (except thicker) than my netbook. The problem with it (okay, it was back in 1993-94) was that the hard drive was only 84 mb and only had 64k ram (may have been 128k, not sure). The netbook has a 160 GB hard drive and 1 GB ram.

    In my opinion, the netbook is a great compromise, one I have been waiting for 15 years for, between a full-size notebook and a PDA.

    The one I bought has Window XP Service Pack 2, as I *DID NOT WANT* the Windows XP Service Pack 3 in the other one (SP 3 is like Vista from what I have been told - not running some older programs and other problems, and I did not want the problems with it, which is also why I have never upgraded SP 3 on my computers).

    Besides, the other weighed 1 pound more and had shorter battery life.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 07-10-2009 at 09:47 PM. Reason: speelin'
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I've been using a very small IBM laptop (model X40) for about a year and can easily say it's the best thing I bought to help me do inspections. It's about the size/weight of 2 magazines stacked on top of one another.

    It weighs 2.7lbs with the extended battery (up to 7 hours when new) and has a full size keyboard for quick typing. I'll usually set it up in the kitchen and fill all the house 'data' before I leave and often type up the whole report.

    Check out Ebay and you'll be amazed at how affordable the technology on small laptops has become. I paid about $300 a year ago and the machine is barely used.

    The Verizon air card completes the mobility and I can send off reports from virtually anywhere.


  4. #4
    mitch buchanan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I bought a tablet laptop last year to complete my reports. I had every intention of using it in the stylus writing mode, but found that I can type much faster - could have saved lots of $$$$ with a small netbook or regular laptop. I usually use the kitchen table or sit on the toilet in a vacant house to enter data as needed. I think a netbook is the next hardware I'll use.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by mitch buchanan View Post
    or sit on the toilet in a vacant house
    That's hilarious.... I'm always looking for a place to type but have never even thought of that. I bet it would keep buyers from following closely too


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I didn't realize people were still doing reports on site anymore. Don't do it myself. Too much of a distraction and takes away from the inspection in my opinion. I do the reports back at the office where I'm not rushed and not sitting on a toilet.

    rick


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Rick, pay attention, this might be your solution to being "so busy I have to schedule a BM" from your earlier posts!
    sit on the toilet in a vacant house to enter data as needed.


    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    I didn't realize people were still doing reports on site anymore.
    Also used for entering data on site, reports on side or not.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I rarely finish and send a report from the site. It's just a good way to get all the date input and kill dead time while I'm wating for the client to show up or the agent to get off the phone.

    I've also had clients or agents complain about the 'short' time at the house compared to 'other inspectors' they've had. I try to explain that since I don't do the report on-site it takes a lot less time than the guy that sets up an office in the kitchen. The laptop give you the ability to hang out a bit longer and be productive if you're moving through a house quickly.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Jim,

    You may have something there. Wonder how I could attach a tp holder to my laptop?
    Most vacant ones never have the tp. Ever notice that?

    Last thing when moving out, go grab all the tp.

    rick


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Rick
    I carry a folding chair in my tool box.
    PS I also carry moist towelettes.
    Lots of uses for the towelettes.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .
    I recently bought a netbook
    .
    You Know You Can't See That Size Screen.
    .


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  13. #13
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I didn't realize people were still doing reports on site anymore. Don't do it myself. Too much of a distraction and takes away from the inspection in my opinion.
    RH: There are, it seems, quite a few. Just goes to show you how effective years of agent training has been.


  14. #14
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    RH: There are, it seems, quite a few. Just goes to show you how effective years of agent training has been.
    If you keep the critters away till you are done and there would be no distraction


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    RH: There are, it seems, quite a few. Just goes to show you how effective years of agent training has been.
    So true.

    Aaron, I'm now seeing the agents wanting to fill out the repair addendum right there at the time of the inspection.

    They'll ask the buyer to go ahead and list what the inspector has told them before they even have the HI report in hand.

    I tell my clients not to do such and wait till they have my report and have read it in its entirety.

    rick


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    So true.

    Aaron, I'm now seeing the agents wanting to fill out the repair addendum right there at the time of the inspection.

    They'll ask the buyer to go ahead and list what the inspector has told them before they even have the HI report in hand.

    I tell my clients not to do such and wait till they have my report and have read it in its entirety.

    rick
    Rick,

    On a few occasions in years past I had similar experiences, my solution was to then and there tell the buyer to write down just what it was they wanted to be addressed, and to write it down as this: "See attached home in$pection report by ... for ... performed on ... " where the first "..." would be your company name, the second "..." would be the address of the house, and the last "..." would be the date of the inspection.

    Now the entire report is included in that repair list. My clients actually took my advice, which really ticked those agents off.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 07-13-2009 at 12:55 PM. Reason: changed "s" to "$" in in$pection report to avoid Brian's automatic highlighting feature
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
    Anthony Coscia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I used a netbook for awhile. It is actually a Tablet pc. Rotatable and touch screen and the display rotates as well but very hard to read as everything is small. Using it outdoors is next to impossible as the sun here in Vegas wipes out the screen. It's made by M&A Technology and is called the Companion. It only cost $499 and performs well but I gave up using it because it took longer to use it than a clipboard and pen. I could just imagine what using a PDA would be like.

    Tony


  18. #18
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I'm like Rick. I just use a camera and do the report back at the barn. It just did not work for me to try and type the report on site or even do 50% of the report on site. I would find myself going back over the same stuff I did in the field back in the office.

    As for Inspectvue. I dump that program and I'm now back working with MS word. Much faster. WizzyWig It Just works for me.

    Best

    Ron


  19. #19
    Scott Murdock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Coscia View Post
    I used a net-book for awhile. It is actually a Tablet pc. Rotatable and touch screen and the display rotates as well but very hard to read as everything is small. Using it outdoors is next to impossible as the sun here in Vegas wipes out the screen. It's made by M&A Technology and is called the Companion. It only cost $499 and performs well but I gave up using it because it took longer to use it than a clipboard and pen. I could just imagine what using a PDA would be like.

    Tony
    Thanks, that was what I was looking for. You work in the same environment as I do here in the desert. I think I will keep using pen and paper for now and finish back at the office unless I am in a situation that the laptop can be used. I was thinking a PDA might be useful for some of the quick checks not so much the notes then get to the office and clean up the report.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    For data gathering on-site I still use a handheld tape recorder. It was just how I was shown the business and I've never gone away from it. Even when I do the data into the computer on-site I still use my recorder. It's much easier for me then pen/paper and can go anywhere. It's also good for taking down phone numbers or even addresses while in an attic or crawl space.


  21. #21
    Scott Murdock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    For data gathering on-site I still use a handheld tape recorder. It was just how I was shown the business and I've never gone away from it. Even when I do the data into the computer on-site I still use my recorder. It's much easier for me then pen/paper and can go anywhere. It's also good for taking down phone numbers or even addresses while in an attic or crawl space.
    Matt are you using tape or a digital recorder? I have a mini disc recorder that I have thought about using.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I still use an old fashioned micro-cassette recorder. I tried a digital once and it just wasn't the same. I keep trying to work myself away from using the recorder since I fill out the house 'data' with the laptop and document all the main problems with the camera.

    Smaller things that don't make the cut to justify a picture are what I usually get from the tape.


  23. #23
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I still use an old fashioned micro-cassette recorder. I tried a digital once and it just wasn't the same. I keep trying to work myself away from using the recorder since I fill out the house 'data' with the laptop and document all the main problems with the camera.

    Smaller things that don't make the cut to justify a picture are what I usually get from the tape.
    Hey Mat have you ever look at the voice Recognition Programs for lap-tops.

    They can type the information up for you. I have never used one but there is an inspector in my area that has this system and it works very well for him.

    Best

    Ron

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 07-14-2009 at 10:26 AM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I haven't actually tried it... I once tried dictating a letter over the phone to our seceratary (when we had one) and I was amazed at how hard it is to write what you really want without having the text in front of you to re-read.

    It must be something about the way my brain works... I don't think I could use it for report writing.


  25. #25
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I don't think I could use it for report writing
    MF: Me either, unless it came with expletive-deleting software.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I tried the recorder method and it did not work for me, to cumbersome trying to keep going back and make sure I got it all, unintelligible words the recorder did not pick up clearly, saying something into the recorder and someone listening, asking you about what you just said and causing you to lose your thoughts on it (much easier to write it down or take photos without saying it out loud) - such as "main girder under house is cracked and split, center has fallen 6 inches" ...

    That stuff gets their attention BEFORE you are ready to discuss it, and explain what you found, to them.

    I entered much of the data into my notebook (what I used back then) and into my camera (took many, many photos) to add more information when back at my office.

    Photos, photos, and more photos - they are excellent for documenting what you saw and to remind you of what you want to write up, and with digital cameras there is none of that "save film", "wait for prints", or "extra photos cost extra $$$$" stuff from old fashioned film cameras.

    Not only will the photo remind you of what you wanted to write up, but many times looking at the photos will show you things you missed while at the inspection, that you can now include in the report.

    To me, instead of a voice recorder it would be a digital camera as a recorder.

    Take photos of all labels, all installation instructions, all whatever, you will be surprised who much that information will help you with your report.

    Photos also allow your brain to "re-walk the inspection" as you go over the photos.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  27. #27
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    I will have someone call me up about an inspection i did last month or even years back and because of the photos I have of the job in my head. just about everything comes back. Its like I have been taking photos with my minds eye. it just work for me to be able to recall info on old reports.

    My first camera was a Sony with the 3 1/2 floppy disk. I thing Jerry P. had one of these first out cameras.

    Been working only with a camera no clip board from then on. I think that was 1996-1997

    I think that camera back then $ 750.00 It got 12 photos per disk.
    The good old days.

    Best

    Ron


  28. #28
    Jeff Knight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    Scott,
    If you have not tried a PDA before then it is worth your time and money to at least try it. You can always resell the PDA on eBay if it does not work for you....and they only cost about $300-$350. If you can picture yourself using a small digital clipboard to select your comments from a pre-built list without having to type in the field and eliminating most of the entering of the data back at the office then it may work for you. PDAs come in larger screens now with high resolution which make them easier to read then mini-laptops and Net books for sure. It uses the full screen and does not have the full Windows OS which makes it very fast and battery life is over 10-12 hrs. of use.
    Having the device in your hand as you do your inspection also makes it possible to have reference information available to you as you are doing your inspection. When we worked with ITA the CodeCheck information was built right into the software.
    Using a camera or digital recorder to record your findings in the field will always create a lot of time back at the office to decipher it and create a final report in my opinion.


  29. #29
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net book, PDA, Laptop or paper?

    If your looking for a hand healed HP I have one i can sell you
    call me.

    707-570-2000

    Best

    Ron


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