MAX’S TOP TECH TIPS FOR SMARTPHONES & DIGITAL CAMERAS MAX PIGMAN National Speaker & Vice President, REALTOR.com®
SMARTPHONES Things to consider before you buy a new Smartphone: 1. What kind of operating system do you want? Smartphone operating systems include Windows Mobile®, Palm®, Blackberry® and some proprietary systems like iPhone™. When you choose, remember to check for compatibility with applications (programs) such as contact managers, MLS access, lockbox access, etc. 2. What are you going to use it for? Rank the importance of these features and make sure you take this ranking into consideration.
a. Phone Calls: This wouldn’t seem like something worth considering; however, some Smartphones have better call quality than others. Be sure to compare speakerphones & Bluetooth® headset connectivity. If you are thinking of switching networks (Verizon to AT&T, or Sprint to T-Mobile, etc.) make sure the new network has good service/signal strength where you use the phone. Check with a friend or co-worker using this network to make sure they have good signal strength. It can be very frustrating to have calls disconnected or to be forced to go outside just to get a strong signal.
b. Organizer Functions: The second most popular function of a phone is keeping your contacts handy. Does the phone you are considering sync with Outlook® or your Top Producer® contacts? If you work with a team or have administrative support, you may want to make sure your contacts can be updated from multiple locations and these changes are automatically updated on all devices.
c. Messaging and email: Text messages send text only, while multimedia messages send pictures and videos as well as text. If you’d like to receive personal or work email on your handset, make sure it supports this feature. Messaging and e-mail cost extra, so consider purchasing an appropriate data plan if you’ll be using the features frequently. You might also look at a phone with an integrated keyboard for faster typing. Check the speed and email features – do they allow connection to multiple accounts, corporate servers, web-based accounts? Take your existing email address to the wireless store with you and have them help you setup the email account before you leave so you make sure your phone is capable of getting your email.
d. Web browsing: Check the speed – does it offer Wi-Fi™ connectivity? Some phones only offer browsers that allow you to view sites configured to display on small, mobile devices, on the other hand, some newer phones include full HTML browsers which allow you access to any website. Try the browser while in the store, go to a website you access often and compare the speed and usability with other devices you are evaluating. Look for hi-speed access such as 3G technology and Wi-Fi connectivity which allow you to surf and download large files (such as contracts/pdf files) much faster. Also make sure you price the data plans as browsing can get expensive if you don’t have unlimited data.
e. MLS Access: Check with your MLS to see if they offer access from a mobile device, and if so, what operating system is recommended.
f. Lockbox Interface: Does your MLS offer lockbox integration through a Smartphone, if so which ones?
g. Demo Listings via Photo and Video Tours: This can be a powerful tool for buyers and for use in listing demonstrations. If you plan to use your Smartphone for this purpose, be sure to compare displays and resolution and make sure your Smartphone can play video files.
h. GPS: Do you want a phone that can also give you turn-by-turn directions?
3. Look for expandable memory options so you don’t run out of space (important for storing and displaying photos and videos). 4. Some Smartphones can be expensive. You might consider an insurance policy at the time of purchase. This will normally cost you $5 to $6/month but many plans will allow for replacements within 24hrs if your phone is stolen, broken, or lost. 5. Think about upgrading the battery. Many phones have larger versions of their batteries that will drastically increase your talk/use time each day. 6. What kind of accessories are available for the phone—car kits, chargers, headsets, belt-clips, etc.?
DIGITAL CAMERAS Things to consider before you buy a Digital Camera: 1. Resolution: Look for at least 6 to 8 megapixels (6MP, 8MP) This will give you the ability to create high quality photos and print out enlargements up to 11” x 14”. 2. Image Stabilization: Make sure your next camera has either EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) or the newer and even better OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). This minimizes the movement and vibrations from your hand and allows for clearer pictures and better video. 3. Handy Features for Real Estate: Many digital cameras come with
Roxio® Media Creator® so you can edit clips together, create smooth transitions between them, overlay text to highlight features and add audio such as a music background or a narration of the home. WARNING: If you do not like to learn new programs, or sit in front of your computer for long periods of time, you may want to shoot your own video, then hire a service to edit it (check with local virtual tour providers, etc.). If you take this approach, you may want to ask for the finished video to be
scene modes such as “stitch assist” or “panoramic assist” which allow you
provided to you in several formats–a format that is optimized for streaming
to easily stitch multiple photos together. Some of the latest cameras
video on sites like REALTOR.com® and YouTube and in a format optimized
actually do the stitching internally and automatically – great for creating
to run on mobile phones and iPods.
panoramic shots that highlight the entire room or view. Another handy
6. Batteries: Look for Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries as they
mode for real estate is the “back light” mode which will help you with difficult lighting situations like that living room with the bright sunlight coming in through the windows. This mode tells your camera to disregard the bright light and turn on the flash to fill the room. 4.Wide Angle Lenses: You can get cameras with built-in wide angle
last longest. 7. Storage Options: Several memory card options are used in digital cameras. Make sure you have the ability to insert the memory card from your camera to your computer or get a memory card reader. This will allow you to insert many different kinds of cards to easily transfer
lenses or add an aftermarket wide angle lens to your camera. Magnetic
pictures to your computer. A new technology, SD Wi-Fi, enables the
wide angle lenses are simple to add and can make a huge difference in
memory card to automatically copy pictures to your computer anytime
your pictures. You can get these online at eBay®, or many other online
your camera comes close to your computer wirelessly.
camera stores such as www.magneticlens.com. 5. Video Clip Recording: Many digital cameras can capture video clips.
8. Extra Tip: No matter what camera you choose, get familiar with it. Learn how to change the resolution settings, choose different scene
This is great for uploading a short video tour of your listings on sites like
modes and utilize some of the special features. Also, take your time
REALTOR.com®. While none will produce the quality of a video camera,
and take lots of pictures, take some with lights on, some with lights off,
some are better than others. If you are going to shoot video with your
some with flash on, some with flash off, etc. Experiment with lots of
digital camera, look for at least 30fps VGA (640x480 resolution). Ask if the
pictures then delete the ones that don’t turn out. Get a tripod for steady
camera allows the features to work while shooting video, some cameras
shooting, you may think about adding an external flash or a clamp-
disable features while shooting video (such as the zoom).
on flood lamp to make sure your pictures have plenty of light in large
a. If you start shooting your own digital videos, you may want to
rooms. The pictures you are taking will most likely be the first impression
consider using a simple video editing program such as Windows
a potential buyer will have. Take this part of your job seriously and your
Video Maker, Ulead® Video Studio®, Sony®’s Vegas Movie Studio® or
home sellers will appreciate it.
Additional resources for researching your technology purchase: www.cnet.com (great info and reviews of just about anything with an on/off switch)
To download information from Max’s presentation, visit:
http://www.RDCWorkshop.com/pdf/index.html For more information, visit:
(you guessed it, more reviews with a popularity counter)
www.epinions.com (consumer reviews on electronics)
www.bhphotovideo.com, www.buy.com, www.amazon.com, www.magneticlens.com www.chatterbean.com/right_brain_thinker (left-brain, right-brain quiz)
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