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Are Your Tech Tools Up To Scratch?

By Mike Wheatley | December 15, 2014

You’ve probably heard the maxim “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” When it comes to technology, you shouldn’t let the hype around the latest and greatest (and most expensive) solutions prevent you from considering affordable products that can meet your standards of performance perfectly well.


photo credit: mbiebusch via photopin cc

If you know what you need, you might be able to upgrade your entire technology suite for hundreds of dollars rather than thousands. Here’s a snapshot of what’s available at both the high and low ends in three categories of products widely considered to be “must haves” for real estate professionals.


Why you might want one

Tablet computers provide instant startup, an attractive graphical interface, and quick access to presentation materials, apps, and Web sites that can help reinforce your image as an organized, proficient real estate professional. Moreover, they’re almost as portable as a smartphone with the larger display of a small laptop.

Top of the line

The clear leader in this space is Apple’s iPad Air 2, which starts at $499 for a 16GB model. The latest version offers a 8 megapixel camera and a Retina display that's sharper than most high-definition televisions. There’s also a more expensive version that includes an LTE wireless connection for faster Web browsing. The iPad’s main competitor—the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, which runs Google’s Android operating system—also starts at $499. The two products are similar: The Galaxy Tab offers a slightly larger screen than the iPad but somewhat reduced battery life. However, Apple has a clear advantage (for now) in the number of apps available.

Good enough

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, which costs just $99, has a considerably smaller screen, shorter battery charge, and less internal memory than the iPad and Galaxy. However, it offers the same Web browsing functionality as high-end tablets, access to Word and PDF documents, and free cloud storage for content purchased from Amazon.



photo credit: Chris JL via photopin cc

Why you might want one

Well, you probably already have one. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get a new one sometime soon - after all, who doesn't regularly upgrade their phone these days? In terms of features and functionality, smartphones offer apps, Web browsing, QWERTY keypads for text messaging and e-mail, cameras, GPS, and—of course—voice calls. And these devices will only grow in importance as more consumers and real estate pros adopt them.

Top of the line

Once again, Apple has one of the top-selling, best-loaded products in this category. Its iPhone 6, which starts at $199, includes an 8MP iSight camera with 1.5µ pixels; FaceTime, which allows you to place face-to-face video calls with fellow iPhone users; and Siri, a voice-operated digital “assistant” you can use to schedule appointments, search the Web, and more.

The most popular Google Android phone in the United States, Samsung's Galaxy S4, starts at the same price as an iPhone with a Sprint contract. It doesn’t have quite the level of functionality as the iPhone—lacking features like Siri and FaceTime—and Apple still outpaces Google in terms of the sheer number of apps, but it’s more or less on par in terms of its camera, display, and Internet browsing experience.

Good enough

Practically every mobile service provider now offers smartphones for less than $50, and often free, with a contract. With these service contracts, you can get devices that allow you to easily text, take photos (often at a low resolution), and browse the Internet. With the exception of the iPhone, the main differences between these products and pricier ones are qualitative. Their screens aren’t as sharp, the batteries don’t last as long, and the photos they take aren’t as well-defined.



Why you might want one

Plain and simple, homes that have photos promoting them—particularly online—attract more potential buyers and sell for more money. Conversely, listings that are photographed poorly or have few or no pictures tend to be ignored at best and viewed with suspicion at worst.

Top of the line

How much do you want to spend? There are plenty of products that cost well into the thousands of dollars that feature various ranges of shutter speeds to capture motion, interchangeable lenses, and multiple lighting and flash systems. Examples of these include Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II, which starts at $3,353 with a basic accessory kit, and Nikon’s D3X SLR, which costs $8,000 for the camera body alone. But that’s probably not necessary for most real estate pros, who will be taking smaller still shots of homes for use on the Web.

Good enough

There’s a good mix of products between $300 and $500 that will get the job done for the vast majority of practitioners. What you choose will depend on what you want to accomplish. For example, if you’re looking for a versatile camera that can capture video and allow you to easily upload and share photos on the Web, you might opt for Panasonic’s Lumix ZS20, which costs $350. If you want a camera that takes really sharp pictures with vivid color and a user-changeable focus, you may be more interested in Lytro’s “light field” camera, which comes in at about $400. For less than $100, you can get the Samsung’s ES80 digital camera, which has a 12 MP image sensor, and 5X optical zoom with image stabilization to help avoid blurry shots.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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