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Top-Ranking Tablets from Consumer Reports

July 10 2012

3916apple tabletThe August 2012 issue of Consumer Reports ranks some important real estate technology tools: Smartphones, laptops, cameras and (our subject today) tablets. We'll be dripping out some of their key findings to help those of you who haven't made these important purchases yet or are looking to upgrade.

Let's talk tablets! With our upcoming webinar, "WOW Your Clients with Your iPad," we've had tablets on the brain. So we were particularly interested in seeing which brands and models Consumer Reports recommended.

iPad Receives Top Score

The third generation 10-inch Apple iPad with 4G and 16GB receives the highest overall score of any tablet Consumer Reports reviewed. Why does this model receive such high marks? Consumer Reports touts the excellent display, realistic colors, great camera, long battery life, and extensive app store. If you already have an iPhone, you should seriously consider leaning in this direction because all of your apps will populate to your iPad and you will not need to learn anything new.

Looking to spend less money? The prior-generation iPad 2 also receives excellent marks and earns the accolade of "the best deal available for the iPad" from Consumer Reports with an overall score of 80 for Wi-Fi only and 82 for 3G.

Are You a PC?

If you use a lot of Google Apps (like Google Mail, Google Docs, etc.), or if you have an Android phone, you may want to consider an Android tablet. Consumer Reports has some great picks for you there, too. Their top choices:

  • Samsung Galaxy: scores range from 83 to 75, depending on the model
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF300T: scored 83
  • Toshiba Excite: scored 80

Both the 7- to 8-inch and 9- to 10-inch models of the Samsung Galaxy received high marks from Consumer Reports. The Samsung also has the best battery life (by a pretty significant amount). It actually looks like a pretty nice little tablet and is probably what I'd choose if I weren't a Mac.

However, just because you're on an Android phone, you don't necessarily need to choose an Android tablet. You may find that you prefer the user interface of the iPad – after all, it earned the highest score from Consumer Reports for a reason. If you're still undecided, one of the most important questions to ask is if the apps you use will work on the Apple operating system (iOS) or Android operating system – this includes your MLS apps, electronic signature apps, etc.

Wi-Fi or 3G/4G?

You will only be able to fully use the tablet when it is connected to the Internet. Lets take a good look at how your tablet will connect.

According to Consumer Reports, "Wi-Fi models are best for most people." I respectfully disagree – and so does pretty much everyone I've spoken to. For example, our sales director, Melissa McHone, received a hand-me-down iPad with only Wi-Fi – and she never uses it. In fact, she says, "My Wi-Fi iPad is the exact same thing as a paperweight. The point of it is to be used on-the-run; and that capability is seriously limited without 3G or 4G."

If a real estate agent is (wisely) investing in a tablet, one of their primary goals is probably to become more mobile. For instance, they'll be using the tablet as their computing tool when they're on the road, at a showing, doing a listing presentation, etc. In any of those aforementioned situations, they're quite likely not going to be in a location with Wi-Fi, making 3G/4G a necessity unless they're looking for a glorified paperweight (thanks, Melissa!).

Some agents have already purchased mobile hotspots (personal, portable wireless routers) such as MiFi to connect their laptop. Most of these wireless hubs will allow you to connect up to five devices (laptop, tablet, Smartphone, etc). If you already have one of these, you may be fine without the 3G/4G service, but it means you will need to carry and maintain a charge on yet another device.

Other articles of interest: Listing Syndication: The Fine Print! | Birdview IDX