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Thread: Tablet PC's

  1. #1
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    Default Tablet PC's

    Are any of you using these while at the inspection?

    The prices seem to have really come down over the last year or so. I have a laptop that I sometimes take with me but it's a larger one and I rarely ever bring it into the house. It's more just to hammer out some work between houses if I'm out for more than one.

    The tablets seem to be very versitile and I could really see getting a lot done while at the house. I've always done reports off-site but this could make me change my routine. I've often throught the best of both worlds would be to give the client a choice. Basically, I can do your report now and will have it in 30-60 minutes. Or, I can email it to you by this afternoon.

    Anyway, I'd be curious to hear some input from anyone using a tablet... thanks!

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    PC should not have an apostrophe. Since this is an abbreviation and not a contraction, when an "s" is added, an apostrophe is not used. The plural of PC is PCs, not PC's. When an apostrophe is inserted, it becomes possessive and begs the question "What belongs to the PC?"

    Gunnar the spelling troll.

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    PC should not have an apostrophe. Since this is an abbreviation and not a contraction, when an "s" is added, an apostrophe is not used. The plural of PC is PCs, not PC's. When an apostrophe is inserted, it becomes possessive and begs the question "What belongs to the PC?"

    Then the apostrophe is correct ...

    The user "belongs to the PC", thus the apostrophe shows that ownership relationship.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    And all this time I thought the PC belonged to me.
    The power cord "might" belong to the PC, but I paid for it, so I guess it belongs to me. It's Jack's PC and Jack's power cord, the PC doesn't own "jack".


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Depending on how you do your reports, a tablet PC might work great for you. I had an ACER tablet which had some great features but didn't have an internal CD drive. The main reason I left the tablet is due to advertising. I also found it was easier to use a voice recorder than entering things in the tablet. Just get a tablet that is easier to see the screen when you are outside and have a second battery for backup.


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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I bought an Averatec tablet about 3 years ago at $1800 when i did reports onsite. Never been real crazy about it, the plastic cracks everywhere like its been dropped several times. When it dies, since I dont do onsite reports anymore I will get the cheapest regular laptop with a large screen.

    Paul Kondzich
    Ft. Myers, FL.

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    the PC doesn't own "jack".

    Does your PC ever not quite do things right? Bogs down, slows down, crashes? Yet you still keep using it.

    Yeah, it "OWNS YOU".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    ..............

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    .
    --an apostrophe.
    '
    added,an apostrophe
    .
    When an apostrophe is inserted,
    .
    Gunnar the spelling troll.

    Not to mention The Apostrophe Troll.

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    Thumbs up Re: Tablet PC's

    I've been using a TabletPC for three years now and would never go back to a regular lap top for this use. I use a Motion LE-1600 (new model is LE-1700) with an extended use battery. I can do two inspections on it before needing to plug in. Plus I can charge it in the truck in between inspections. I have a special mount in my vehicle for it from RAM that allows me to use it with my "puck" style GPS and view the screen while driving. Huge screen for this, no squinting at a tiny little screen that is too small to read the street names or only shows a 200 yard resolution if blown up to read the names. LOL Old eyes here!
    This is a perfect use for Tablets. The handwriting recognition is fabulous! I use 3-D and can modify my comments on the fly or write new ones as needed. I use a Bluetooth keyboard for heavy data entry like setting up the report in the field on the fly.

    I've done parallel inspections with others using laptops and I beat them every time, hands down. I don't have to take notes and then re-enter the data at the laptop later. Why do double work?
    At night, I drop it in a docking station and use it as a second PC on my desk. There it has full connection to my laser printer, the internet, speakers, USB keyboard, backup 20 gig hard drive for storing the PDFs of reports and the related digital pics.

    Sweet system! And time tested. Works for me very well.

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Dana Bostick View Post
    I've been using a TabletPC for three years now and would never go back to a regular lap top for this use. I use a Motion LE-1600 (new model is LE-1700) with an extended use battery. I can do two inspections on it before needing to plug in. Plus I can charge it in the truck in between inspections. I have a special mount in my vehicle for it from RAM that allows me to use it with my "puck" style GPS and view the screen while driving. Huge screen for this, no squinting at a tiny little screen that is too small to read the street names or only shows a 200 yard resolution if blown up to read the names. LOL Old eyes here!
    This is a perfect use for Tablets. The handwriting recognition is fabulous! I use 3-D and can modify my comments on the fly or write new ones as needed. I use a Bluetooth keyboard for heavy data entry like setting up the report in the field on the fly.

    I've done parallel inspections with others using laptops and I beat them every time, hands down. I don't have to take notes and then re-enter the data at the laptop later. Why do double work?
    At night, I drop it in a docking station and use it as a second PC on my desk. There it has full connection to my laser printer, the internet, speakers, USB keyboard, backup 20 gig hard drive for storing the PDFs of reports and the related digital pics.

    Sweet system! And time tested. Works for me very well.

    Thanks for the info... the way you use it is exactly what I'm hoping for. I just find that I shy away from using my laptop because it's just too huge to lug around everyday.


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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I'm curious about Homeguage 4 on one of the "ultra mobile" size tablets - sorta' midway between a PDA and a normal "tablet", for example

    http://notebookreview-cnet.com.com/laptops/samsung-q1-ultra-vista/4505-3121_7-32459191.html?subj=fdba∂=notebookreview-cnet&tag=_Laptops

    Have not really investigated it, though.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 03-21-2008 at 02:07 PM.
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    That's a pretty cool gadget.... Cnet doesn't seem too high on it though.

    I'm thinking of looking for a used tablet for the cost and also so I can get Win XP. I have Vista on one of my machines and any software that is more than about a year old won't work with it. Also, I just like XP better.


  14. #14

    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    The group I work with uses 3-D and several have laptops with Vista. Seems to work fine for the latest versions IE ver. 10.x.x

    I've tried several platforms and IMHO it's all about the speed of data entry vs portability.

    Laptop fast but too heavy to carry around unless it's a "micro" style.
    PDA - very portable but crappy to enter data unless you are using pure check box style.
    "Convertable tablet (like a laptop but the screen spins around and folds flat for use as a tablet) Better but still heavy.
    The UMPCs or "ultra Portables" are fine but the screen is a bit small for my taste but I could be swayed if the price were right.
    Slate form factor TabletPC Ideal compromise! Data entry is fast, it's light and you can plug in an optical drive or keyboard on the rare occasion that you need that. I use a bluetooth keyboard in the field and a docking station at home.
    Dana

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Dana,

    That "Motion LE-1600 (new model is LE-1700)" is exactly what I've been looking for.

    Where can I get one today?

    YouTube - Motion Computing LE 1600 Review


  16. #16

    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Motion Computing Tablet PCs for Mobile Computing or check eBay etc. They have been out for a few years now. the current is the M-5 or the LE-1700
    Dana

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I use an OtterBox waterproof case for my PDA and it hangs around my neck. I use the little keyboard built into the PDA (on the screen) and can input data pretty fast. My report has lots of built in action points in my library, so I usually just have to select to correct box and it loads the text I need into the report.

    I don't think I would like to carry around a tablet. If I felt I needed a larger screen to input my report data, I think I would just park my laptop in the kitchen and go from there.

    Had the chance to practice the other day when I left my Pocket PC at home. I used my little pocket note pad to take some notes, but pretty much just relied on the old noggin to remember stuff until I could input it into the laptop. I found I could do almost the entire inspection without going to the laptop.

    JF


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I was using a Fujitsu Stylistic for a while. Fairly light, battery life wasn't bad, worked great with my GPS and a map program. Had it mounted on a RAM mount, charger with spare battery also mounted on the rear of the RAM. Would have liked for the screen to be a little brighter, a different model Fujitsu has the "outdoor viewable" screen. Bought mine on Ebay cheap, but then I dropped it getting out of the truck one day.....
    Paper forms for inspections that day (keep a couple in the truck for just this reason), off to Circuit City that evening for a laptop as a fast replacement, only planned on using it until I could have a replacement tablet shipped, still using the laptop. Haven't gotten around to ordering the replacement tablet yet. Started using my Palm pilot with the Inspect It handheld software & have had good results with that for now.
    I probably will go back to a tablet, but I think I may go with a different brand, I've tried out several that I think would be better, but price is a big factor.
    Alton


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Alton Darty View Post
    I was using a Fujitsu Stylistic for a while. Fairly light, battery life wasn't bad, worked great with my GPS and a map program. Had it mounted on a RAM mount, charger with spare battery also mounted on the rear of the RAM. Would have liked for the screen to be a little brighter, a different model Fujitsu has the "outdoor viewable" screen. Bought mine on Ebay cheap, but then I dropped it getting out of the truck one day.....
    Paper forms for inspections that day (keep a couple in the truck for just this reason), off to Circuit City that evening for a laptop as a fast replacement, only planned on using it until I could have a replacement tablet shipped, still using the laptop. Haven't gotten around to ordering the replacement tablet yet. Started using my Palm pilot with the Inspect It handheld software & have had good results with that for now.
    I probably will go back to a tablet, but I think I may go with a different brand, I've tried out several that I think would be better, but price is a big factor.
    Alton
    It sound like you don't thing the Palm pilot works the greatest. I have InspectIt also. I have the voice recorder which works out good but always looking for other ways.


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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Luce View Post
    It sound like you don't thing the Palm pilot works the greatest. I have InspectIt also. I have the voice recorder which works out good but always looking for other ways.
    The Palm and Inspect It work out pretty well, everything loads to my laptop when I finish without any big issues most of the time. I do get minor glitches sometimes, mostly my fault I think. I have to remember to add the fireplace section to the report on my laptop before uploading the report file from the Palm, that seems to be the one I always have a problem with. The Inspect It software works pretty well, I've changed some of the verbiage to better suit my style and added a ton of comments in different areas. Still looking at other software sometimes, but this is working right now and the more I use it the more I add to it and the better it works for me.
    Maybe I should just start carrying a video camera and record everything..........
    Alton


  21. #21

    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Several have mentioned using voice recording. Tried that too. Actually found that to be even slower than using notes. Notes can be quickly scanned, the recording is linear and you have to keep jogging back and forth to find the right data.
    I've found that carrying the light weight tablet, tapping the needed comment or writing it in is very fast. All I need to do at the end is scan back over for missed items and add the pics and I'm done.
    In 3-D, you have the ability to pop in "bookmarks" which I use while I'm walking around to indicate where a picture goes. Then when I'm adding pics I can just tab through the bookmarks in sequence and pop the pics in where needed.
    My system has been honed over 3 years and several thousand inspections and is rather fast.
    BTW, I do print on site. Normal size house in 2-2 1/2 hours start to finish. Meet and greet to back in the car.

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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I've used the voice recorder since day 1.... Since long before digital photos were around. I honestly don't need it that much but since it's the way I've always done it, it's part of my equipment. I just use a cheapie micro-casette recorder until it breaks (or I lose it in a crawl space) and then buy another.

    It's fascinating to hear about how we all go about gathering data in the field and inputing it into our report. It seems that there's no perfect way. We all seem to have a little different way of doing things.

    I think a lot of it depends on how 'agressive' you are at the business. Doing one house a day doesn't take a lot of efficiency. You leave your house then come back and compile a report. Or, hang out on-site until your done (or they throw you out). It gets complicated when trying to pile two or more houses together in an outing, thus the need for techie stuff.

    I think I'm stuck somewhere between a palm pilot and tablet pc. I don't necessarily want to carry the thing through the crawl and attic with me but it would be nice to work on a report while waiting to get into the next house or while killing time waiting for a buyer or agent to show up.


  23. #23

    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I often do 2-3 inspections a day here in SoCal. Been a little slower lately though.
    This only allows about 3+ hours per so one needs to get on with it. Hence, I'm always on the lookout for things that contribute to getting it done without the technology getting in the way. As I said, this system has been honed over three years and is pretty smooth now.
    If I get a really big project, I team up with another inspector or two from our group to keep it "in the window" and not take excessive time for the clients. I've had as many as 5 on a large apartment project. These bigger ones do not get delivered on-site. It takes a while to to compile and collate the report in a professional way so it's useful to the client.
    I've tried PPCs, voice recorders and other toys. None have really worked well for me. The Tablet does not get taken into harms way such as crawls or attics or roofs. If you cannot remember what you saw in that short time, you need to find another profession!
    I typically just carry it around when doing interiors and the easily viewable exterior system such as the main panel, water heater and FAU etc.. For the "systems" I often just walk the exterior or crawl and then come back and enter the data. Using the digital pictures and the afore mentioned bookmarking system in 3-D I don't miss a thing.
    Dana

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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    One has to remember that the "Hardware" (Destop, Laptop, Tablet, etc are all hardware devices and what drives these devices is the software How good is the software and most of all how much memory is in these various devices?


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    It has been a long time since I looked at a PDA so when I went to Circuit City and some of the other stores today, I found out that they are not be sold anymore (at least in the stores around my area). The cell phones are taking over when it comes to the PDA features. Most of you might already know this but I typed this for the few (like me) that didn't.


    I have doubts that the PDA cell phones are the proper thing to use for collecting information during a home inspection.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Dana Bostick View Post
    My system has been honed over 3 years and several thousand inspections and is rather fast.
    BTW, I do print on site. Normal size house in 2-2 1/2 hours start to finish. Meet and greet to back in the car.
    My system had also been honed over many years (16 years) and several thousand inspections, and, well, "fast" was not what my goal was.

    After all of that honing and experience, my inspections grew to an average of 2 days each.

    I was more in tune with honing at what I was looking for than cutting the time down, and my clients liked it that way.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Luce View Post
    It has been a long time since I looked at a PDA so when I went to Circuit City and some of the other stores today, I found out that they are not be sold anymore (at least in the stores around my area). The cell phones are taking over when it comes to the PDA features. Most of you might already know this but I typed this for the few (like me) that didn't.


    I have doubts that the PDA cell phones are the proper thing to use for collecting information during a home inspection.
    This was my exact experience and the inspiration for this thread. I went in looking for a PDA and found out they're all but obselete. The screen size of a PDA seems to be pushing it as is and a cell phone screen is about 1/3 the surfacea area. So, I totally agree that a cell phone would be useless for inputing data.

    There has definitely been a new page turned in the cell phone world. The new 'Smart' phones allow much more data transfer and you can use them a modem and hook your laptop through them and surf with reasonable speed.

    Surfing on the regular phones up until now has been possible but only if you have A LOT of time to watch your phone load web pages.

    Being able to use the phone as a modem is a pretty nice feature. Being reliant on wifi is a bit of a hassle... unless you really like Starbucks


  28. #28

    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    WiFi is SOOOO last Century!

    The hot setup is now called Ev-DO via the cell companies. Many of he new devices are coming with it built-in. I use an add-on card in the PC slot. I have pretty fast internet connection anywhere I get a decent cell signal. Almost as fast as my home's broadband DSL connection. As a test I have kept it connected and surfing the Net for over 200 miles down the Cali 101 from Paso Robles to LA while my wife drove.

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    The cards are great but expensive.... most are $50-60 per month. I don't need it enough to justify that much money... maybe a couple years when I was rich but not now.....

    Using the new 'smart' phones as a modem seems to offer a lot of bang for the buck. Verizon and ATT both want $40 for unlimited data.... Tmobile only wants 20 but I've heard their peak speed is less than the others. I read a rumor that Tmobile would soon be the same as the others... which I'm sure means their charge would go up to match.

    Sprint is making some noise in my area, particularly on the data end of things. If I were getting a card I'd probably go with them. If/when I go with a new phone I'm likely going to go with ATT or Verizon, mainly because they offer the best coverage in my area. I've been with Tmobile for a few years but the coverage is definitely less than the others.

    I imagine it's a regional thing. Every area probably has different 'best' carriers.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    If you want to experiment with windows tablets, check out ebay - I picked up a motion computing m1400 with a 40mb drive, 1gb ram , the "view anywhere" screen option and the hardshell keyboard for $520. If you just want a clean bare-bones tablet some have sold for as little as $350. Make sure you get the xp repair disk as you can't purchase a generic copy of tablet xp should you need to reinstall.

    Michael Thomas
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    I think Gunnar has to much time on his hands these days.

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  32. #32

    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Matt and Kevin,
    The PDAs are not going away anytime soon. Microsoft just released the Windows Mobile v6 Operating systems and there are some great new PocketPCS that have bigger screens and faster memory and the prices are actually lower then before. The new HP iPaq 110 and 211 are great examples...especially the 211. That is what all the new home inspectors buying our software are using now and they absolutely love the big 4" screen with the 480x640 resolution screen which actually makes the text bigger and easier to see then on a UMPC. ..and you cannot beat the price of $450.

    Buy an HP iPAQ 211 Enterprise Handheld (FB041AA#ABA) from HP

    You can get a new PocketPC with even a bigger screen but a little pricey here.

    Amazon.com: HTC Advantage 7501 (Unlocked, U.S. Version) Full Warranty: Cell Phones & Service


    Yes...I agree that the smaller Smartphones with built-in Windows Mobile are too small in my opinion.

    Jeff Knight

    Last edited by Jeff Knight; 04-15-2008 at 11:59 AM. Reason: Link change
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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Tablet PC's

    Recertified Motion Computing 1400 and 1600s real cheap:

    http://www.gainsaver.com/bNetStore/T...tion+computing

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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