Giving cool real estate products, tools and news a Big Encore

The newest wave of tablet computers use the most up-to-date operating systems, come complete with plenty of memory (or are easily expandable if they don’t) and are very light — around 1 pound or less! Here’s a quick run-down of three of the hottest models for each operating system:

 

Apple iPad Mini Wi-Fi:

Price: $529

Memory: 64 GB

Size: 7.9″

Cameras: 5.0 MP iSight camera with 1080p HD video; FaceTime HD

Operating System: iOS 6

Extras: iCloud, USB power adapted, Apple iTunes App store

 

 

Samsung – Galaxy Note Tablet

Price: $499

Memory: 16 GB – expandable thanks to included microSD card slot

Size: 10.1″

Cameras: 1.9MP front-facing; 5.0MP with flash and autofocus

Operating System: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Extras: Bluetooth, Pre-loaded apps like Google Play and YouTube

 

 

Asus – VivoTab RT Tablet

Price: $599

Memory: 32 GB

Size: 10.1″

Cameras: 2.0MP webcam

Operating System: Windows 8

Extras: Bluetooth, Pre-loaded apps like SuperNote, Calendar and Messaging

After all the buzz, the waiting is nearly over. Apple’s iPhone 5 will officially be available in stores September 21.

Below is a video review of the new Apple iPhone specs.

Specs

  • 4 inch screen. That’s a half inch larger than the iphone 4S 3.5 inch screen
  • Retina Display
  • 1136X640 resolution with 326 ppi (pixels per inch)
  • 1GB internal ram
  • iOS 6
  • 4G LTE
  • Up to 10 hours battery life of video playback
  • Up to 8 hours battery life of talk time
  • Bluetooth
  • Smaller connector dock port

Price

The device will cost $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB with a contract at a mobile carrier.

 

 

The official announcement/press conference from Apple is scheduled for 10am tomorrow. There hasn’t been much in the way of “leaks” yet, although it’s expected that official word on the iPhone 5 will be part of that conference. So, here’s a quick round-up of rumors and possible facts that have been flying around about this highly anticipated update:

- Supposedly the new iPhone will go on sale either September 21st or sometime in October. While the October date makes sense, given the fact that the last update was released in October of last year, it wouldn’t surprise me to have them release the phone sooner. Some media outlets are reporting that the phone will go on sale tomorrow, the same day as the press conference. It seems more likely that pre-orders will start tomorrow.

- The price will be the same. Expect to pay between $399 and $199 for the new iPhone 5, unless you want a non-contract phone, in which case, you could pay as much as $700.

- Micro USB plugs are rumored to be on either the sides or the bottom (or both!) of it. This is an upgrade over the standard USB-sized plugs included on previous iPhones.

- It will be 4G LTE, although the “LTE” is trademarked by Samsung, who are already planning a lawsuit over the use of the term.

- One of the more absurd rumors involves the “fact” that the new iPhone will be bendable in order for it to fit into pockets and handbags better. While one of the supposed pictures of it shows a slightly curved phone rather than the flat rectangle of prior models, it’s highly doubtful that it will actually bend.

- Other pictures show a slightly narrower and wider “iPhone” next to it’s predecessor, the iPhone 4S. It’s also supposed to have a two-tone back, unlike previous models that are all the same color.

As to what the new iPhone 5 will actually look like, which features and software it will include, and when it will actually be released, the world will have to wait until the official announcement tomorrow.

Since the demise of Flip, realtors, as well as everyone else, have had to switch to other handheld video cameras to make their promotional videos. Here’s a quick run-down comparison of the specs on dedicated handheld video cameras (those that only shoot video and do nothing else) versus those included in some of the more popular cell phones:

Dedicated Video Cameras

Kodak Playsport ZX5

Does it shoot in HD? – Yes, 1080P

Memory – Uses SD and SDHD cards up to 32GB

Zoom – 4X digital

Still photos – 5MP

Extras – Video can be manipulated to be in black and white, sepia and several other options

Connects to computer via  a micro USB port

 

Sony Bloggie Live

Does it shoot in HD? – Yes

Memory -Internal only, 8GB

Zoom – 4X Digital

Still photos – 12.8MP

Extras – automatic white balance

Connects to computer via a USB port

 

Samsung W200

Does it shoot in HD? – Yes

Memory – Uses Micro SD cards

Zoom – 1X Optical, 3X Digital

Still photos -5.5MP

Extras – Waterproof

Connects to computer via a USB port

 

Cell Phones That Shoot Video

Apple iPhone 4S

Does it shoot in HD? – Yes, 1080P

Memory – Internal, 16GB – although that depends on the phone

Zoom – Yes

Still photos – 8MP rear

Extras – One camera on the front of the phone, one camera on the back

Connects to computer via the Cloud

 

Samsung Galaxy S III 4G

Does it shoot in HD? Yes, 720P

Memory -  16GB internal, supports micro SD cards up to 64GB

Zoom – Yes

Still photos – 8MP rear/1.9MP front

Extras – Excellent sound quality, uses AAC

Connects to computer via USB port

 

HTC Evo

Does it shoot in HD? – Yes, 720P

Memory – Uses Micro SD cards

Zoom – Yes

Still photos – 5MP front/1.3 rear

Extras – A portion of the back pulls out to become a kickstand

Connects to computer via USB port

 

 

All of those necessary social media accounts are easy to update from anywhere if you have the right smartphone. Here are three upcoming releases to keep an eye out for:

1) HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE available July 5th from Verizon Wireless. This phone runs on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS and has a 1.2GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor. On top of that, its 4-inch screen makes it pocket-sized and it has an 8 mp camera.

 

 

 

2) Samsung Galaxy S III available July 6th from AT&T and Verizon Wireless. While this phone also runs on the same Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, it has a larger screen, more available options (including the fact that it comes in different colors) and a 4.8 inch display.

 

 

 

3) Apple iPhone 5. Rumors have this phone being released sometime this fall – September, 2012 is the most popular guess. As for which features it’ll have upgraded and what new things it’ll do? Your guess is as good as any of the tech blogs and only time will tell.

 

 

 

The new Microsoft Windows 8 phones are getting set for a fall release. No exact models or specifications are available yet, but look for phones made by Nokia and HTC to debut from the big four (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) carriers. And, although RIM is in trouble, their Blackberry 10 operating system is said to be a “game changer” by CNET, so, Blackberry fans, be on the look out for that one as well.

Every real estate agent and mortgage broker already knows that owning a cell phone or two is necessary in order to do business. Being able to answer questions when out of the office is an absolute must, especially when it’s a buyers market. But which smart phone should you go with?

The main two to choose from are the iPhone in all of its iterations, and those that use the Android operating system. There is also a Blackberry apps market and Windows phones, but those are not overly popular, since most people use one of the other two. Here’s a quick breakdown of the real estate apps available for the iPhone and Android phones:

iPhone: There are plenty of apps available for the iPhone that can benefit both agents and buyers. Some are related to popular websites, like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and Homes.com. Others are aimed at buyers and contain specific information about real estate, as well as breakdowns by state and location. Some larger realty companies also have their own apps, for example Coldwell Banker and Century 21. One in particular, entitled Real Estate Math is dually handy, since agents and mortgage brokers can do the math quickly and easily from anywhere — just in case a client needs a monthly mortgage estimate. On top of that, there are bunch of social media apps so that your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn status can be updated from anywhere.

 

Android: While the number of real estate related apps is high, most of them are geared toward the buyer. Some realty companies (and even a few individual agents) have their own apps available, and some are designed with a specific state or location in mind. There are also apps containing information about investing, vocabulary, and more than a few titled along the lines of “Real Estate 101″ but, again, those are geared more towards buyers than realtors. That said, the MLS listing app could come in handy for sellers and brokers as well as buyers, and there are the ubiquitous Twitter and Facebook apps to make updating your social media accounts easy.

Real estate yard signs, fliers and open houses are some of the old fashioned real estate marketing tools that are still effective. After all, it’s hard to know which house is for sale if there isn’t a sign out front, and some business is still gained by people driving by. However, if you truly want to increase your sales and up your commissions, then you’ll have to not only have to embrace modern technology, but know how to use it to your advantage.

There are many technology-friendly tools that can be utilized in real estate marketing, but these five top the list:

1) Twitter – Set up a special Twitter account and use it to market your listings. When setting up the account, make sure to check the “Add a Location to my Tweets” box. This will help you find people in your area, and allow them to find you as well. Tweet information about properties that you’re selling, including pictures, prices, lot and building sizes and other pertinent details. If you’re planning an open house, Tweet about that as well. Soon, you’ll build up a sizeable base of Twitter followers – all of whom are potential clients.

 

2) QR codes & Text - There are downloadable QR code reader apps available for most smart phones. By placing a special QR code on every ad (yard signs, fliers, newspaper listings, etc) and using a service like StreetText, everyone who “clicks” on the code will be given information about the property that is far beyond what can be condensed into a simple advertisement. Texting works the same way, anyone can text for information using their phone. And the best part is they can do it from ANY phone. You can use these codes in your print advertising and outside your properties on the for sale sign.

 

3) Google Maps – The ingenious Google Maps system not only allows people to view the entire street that the property is located on, but it also shows several views of the property itself when you zoom all of the way into street view. If the property is located on a corner, you’ll be able to see several angles, including the front, at least one side, and the back, but if it’s nestled between other houses or buildings, only the front will be shown.  Nevertheless, between the “search nearby” and “get directions” options, Google Maps are something that it’s hard to do without.

 

4) Facebook – Creating a Facebook Fan Page for your business is a fairly simple process that can help your business grow exponentially. Because it can be linked to your personal Facebook page, you’ll have instant access to your network of friends, all of whom can become fans of your business as well. These fans will lead to others, and, well, the sky’s the limit! Cross linking to your Twitter profile and blog will also bring in outside fans (otherwise known as clients) and they’ll be able to write on your Fan Page if they have any questions or concerns. This is also a great way to spread the word about open houses.

 

5) A blog – Treat your blog like it’s an online office. Make sure that your email address, office address and phone numbers are clearly displayed on every page. Cross link your blog entries to your Twitter and Facebook pages, and provides links on each of those pages that lead back to your blog. While all of this may sound like a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be. Many blog hosting sites, like WordPress, for example, allow you to automatically send a link to Twitter and Facebook upon clicking the “publish” button.

 

These five items are just the tip of the iceberg as far as real estate marketing technology is concerned and are a great place to begin.

 

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

The BlackBerry Playbook is almost ready for launch and I for one am very excited to finally get my hands on it. It will be great to have another option to the iPad tablet on the market mostly dominated by Apple’s iPad. Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple and I don’t know if I will ever be able to go back to PC’s, but it is time for a change when it comes to personal hand-hold devices. I currently have an Apple iPhone, but I have not been completely satisfied with it, or the way Apple handles their apps. Just last week I went to use my iPhone, but it wouldn’t respond and it had a symbol on it directing me to plug it in to iTunes. I plugged it in only to be informed that it had randomly deleted everything on it. So I reinstalled my last backup only to lose all of my apps. That wasn’t the first time something like this has happened either.

Not to sound overly upset, I’ve had some good times with my iPhone too, but on a previous occasion when installing an update for my phone via iTunes, I lost all my apps, contacts and music. When I went to reinstall them on the App store, it said I had to repurchase them. That was very aggravating from a brand that promises a magical user experience.

I digress, so I am very excited to try something different, like the BlackBerry PlayBook and possibly a new BlackBerry phone. Which leads the big question. How many apps does the BlackBerry PlayBook have? At the time of writing this, BlackBerry announced that it will play all Android Apps in a sand-box environment on the PlayBook. This will give the PlayBook a much needed jumpstart in the apps department. Futhermore, Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of BlackBerry announced they will have 3000 AIR Apps, and 25000 BlackBerry Apps and as an added bonus all Facebook games will work on the PlayBook. But what really matters is how many apps work in the native QNX operating system. Some big players like Amazon announced early that they were developing apps for the PlayBook. However, this number is still unknown, and possibly very very low.

For more on BlackBerry Apps, check out the BlackBerry App Roundup by CrackBerry.com

 

There is a lot of excitement and confusion around the launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook and Apple’s iPad 2. Which one should you get? Apple has the market but does BlackBerry have the specs? Apps aside, here’s a comparative review of what’s what.

 

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

Release Date: Late March/ Early April / Possible April 10th

As people finally start to get their hands on this well guarded device the reviews are starting to flood in. The verdict? It’s pretty awesome.

It has a dual core processor, which makes for a very snappy interface. Their PlayBook is leading the market for processor speed and specs. Many people are going to like the 7inch screen, which makes the PlayBook very portable and useable.

Specs

  • 7″ LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Memory: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB
  • 8 hour battery life
  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
  • Video playback
  • Audio playback
  • HDMI video output
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Size: 5.1″x7.6″x0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
  • Weight: 0.9lbs or 400g

 

Apple iPad 2

Apple iPad 2

Apple iPad 2

Release Date: 5pm Today, March 11th, in the U.S. and everywhere else on March 25th

Apple has a sound history of making great products. The iPad 2 is expected to continue that tradition.

The iPad 2 is an updated iPad with a faster processor speed and memory. However, other than slightly improved performance, most of the iPad 2′s changes are cosmetic.

It still doesn’t play flash or offer more multi-tasking.

Specs

  • 9.5″ LCD, 1024 x 768
  • iOS 4.3
  • 1 GHz dual-core Apple A5
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Memory: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB
  • 9-10 hour battery life
  • Dual cameras (front facing, rear facing), supports 720p HD video recording
  • Video playback
  • Audio playback
  • HDMI video output
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Size: 7.31″x9.5″x0.34″
  • Weight: 1.3lbs or 601g

 


Driving around all day isn’t too bad, as long as you don’t lose your way. A study was done in London, England a few years back where they found Taxi drivers had developed larger brains (hippocampus) while on the job, and I’m sure it’s true for Realtors too. Navigating your way around town is a gift. However, there is an easier way. It’s called GPS Navigation. Here are two great priced entry level GPS Navigation devices that perform very well.

Garmin Nuvi 205 GPS Navigation

Garmin Nuvi 205 W GPS Navigation

Garmin Nuvi 205W

For it’s low price this navigation tool excels. I’ve personally taken it through its rigors while navigating through Seattle, a city I don’t know very well. I found it very easy to follow as it informs the user of the distance and name of upcoming turns.

The good: Startup time, setting the destination and trip routing is faster than the competition.

The bad: The mounting cradle is a bit bulkier than the competition.

Conclusion: Well worth the $75-$110 you would on getting one.

Tom Tom XL 340

Tom Tom XL 340 S

TomTom XL 340 S

The TomTom S model includes a few more features than the previous model and it’s price is still very much on the lower end.

The good: Text to speech enhances the drivers safety. It has a friendly 4.3 inch touch screen display.

The bad: The larger screen and larger mount make it’s a little bulkier for portability. Also, routing from a moving vehicle is a little slower.