Using a Handheld vs Tablet PC for a Home Inspection
A handheld device is about as convenient as you can get. It fits in the palm of your hand and is the ultimate field device in terms of portability. One major advantage, especially for home inspectors, is that they can easily slide it into their pocket or holster for storage when they do not need to use it. This allows them to climb ladders, get on roofs, and enter attics and crawlspaces with ease, without worrying about the hassles of carrying bulky equipment. Although the handheld device is small, most models come with plenty of storage and memory so that your home inspection software will run smoothly. When you finish your home inspection on the handheld, sync it up with your PC where you can review it (if needed) and turn it into a PDF to email to your client. Or if you have a wireless printer, you can even print the report right there on site (if your software offers this functionality). Another advantage of the handheld is battery life. Most inspectors find that they can easily conduct two inspections on a full charge.
Since the handheld is designed to be small and convenient, some inspectors will find that the screen is too small for them, and want something with a larger screen. Also, with the smaller screen, some inspectors may find it difficult to use the stylus pen or touch screen with precision. With the limited memory available in a handheld, most inspectors will not have any issue running their reporting software on it, but if you are looking to run other programs related to your business on it, your options may be limited.
Those inspectors who like the mobility of the handheld, but prefer something a little larger should look at a tablet PC. A tablet gives you a much larger viewing area and therefore the screens will be easier on the eyes. Using your stylus should also prove easy to use with a larger tablet as well. Your home inspection software will run seamlessly since the majority of tablets offer more than enough memory. A tablet will also give you the exact same look of the software as you are used to seeing on your desktop or laptop. There are a number of tablets that can easily flip or spin into a netbook and allow you to use your tablet as a mini laptop as well. This is a great option for any home inspector who finds themselves typing up a lot of information (versus dropdown selection) on each inspection.
Tablets are becoming more and more popular and are a great option for home inspectors, but they do have their flaws as well. Some tablets are difficult to read in the sunlight and therefore present a problem to home inspectors while completing their inspection outside. Although they can be lightweight, tablets are bulkier than a handheld and are not as easy to carry. This can make for a difficult time when dealing with roofs, attics, and crawlspaces. If you purchase a tablet, you should also consider some kind of drop coverage. Battery life can also be an issue on tablets. Many tablets only get 2.5-4 hours on a full charge which can make completing multiple inspections on a single charge not possible.
Both a handheld and tablet are great options for any home inspector and both will cut down the time it takes to complete an inspection. The decision comes down to which device is going to work best for you. Before purchasing you will want to check with your inspection software company and make sure that your software will run on your new device. If you are unsure of the options available, give them a call and see what their experience has been with some of the handhelds and tablets.