What is the best Tablet pc for construction estimating (Insurance adjusters) in the field?

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by Kymberly, Jul 25, 2011.

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  1. Kymberly

    Kymberly Pen Pal - Newbie

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    What is the best Tablet pc for construction estimators in the field? Can anyone please give me any hints on software i will need to run and write on this Tablet pc? Any advise on estimating softwares like Exactimate etc? Thanks!
     
  2. Mydixiwrecked00

    Mydixiwrecked00 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    ive been in the industry for a few years and i can give you an idea of what works FOR ME.

    As far as software Xactimate is the industry standard. There are other programs out there but they are usually discredited by the adjustors, even if they are in fact using it themselves. If you know the business you know the game. There are a few different versions of Xactimate including both standard and Professional installs for each version. I myself am using 27.3 Professional. its $2,100.00 per year vs the $1,500.00 the standard install is but it gives you a license to Xactscope along with a few extra modules. 27.X versions also give you the ability to download pictometry images and process them yourself in about 10 mins for $5 instead of paying someone at Eagleview or Geoestimate to take a week or two depending on region to charge you $30 or more for the same service. I have had a few adjustors say they they will not honor the other pictometry services so if it comes from Xactimate then its usually good.

    Now for your tablet, it really depends on what all you plan on doing with it. The requirements for Xactimate are pretty small so anything new will work, but if you feel the need when traveling to watch shows, play games, etc. when your stuck in hotel rooms then something with better graphics might be the way to go. I have a HP Tm2 with the switchable graphics and it has served me well. It is by no means light but it gets the job done.

    Since i switched over to Xactimate 27.3 Professional my workflow has changed mainly because of the addition of Xactscope. Xactscope is an IPAD app that works directly with Xactimate and it has made life MUCH easier. I start every file with Xactimate. Here i enter the claim info and process the pictometry that directly imports itself as your sketch in Xactimate. all dimensioning is there and it sets your first group for roofing. If you are doing interior you can do all your sketching and set up those groups also or use a disto and populate the rooms when you sync later. Once im finished with this part i save and exit the file which returns you to the control panel in Xactimate. Here you drag the file to Xactscope which is part of the same screen and the file instantly uploads itself into the Xactimate server. I will do several Losses at the same time then grab My ipad 2 (3g)and head out the door. The file is automatically available in my projects tab of the Xactscope app and the drawings are there also. Time for your inspection. Open the app select the correct file and do your walk around. within the app you can take pictures, add text notes to the picture and even add voice notes via bluetooth headset. everything stays attached to the file. To add line items u can choose from macros, a price list search, or the greatest part of this app a reference search. The reference search gives you a pretty in depth collection of pictures both indoors and outdoors. different rooms, buildings and structures. Click the correct picture, and then in the picture click the correct item. in this instance we will say exterior house, select the window on the house, then a list pops up asking for wood, vinyl, metal. make your selection then the appropriate line items come up and you make your selection, action, qty notes Etc and touch save and its now added as a line item in the report. once your report is finished and you have taken all your pictures and notes and added line items you hit the send button and now its available in Xactimate, even if you are on the site of loss and the computer is 1000 miles away( providing the ipad is 3g or on wifi). From Xactimate you clean up the report and submit, print or send accordingly. Xactscope saves a TON of time vs walking with a tablet pc or a sketchpad. All your pictures, notes, and voice notes are transferred as part of the file. If you have a Disto and took measurements of rooms you can now sync it with your Xactimate and it will populate all your rooms in Sketch. If you have a Thermal Image Camera(e series) and moisture meter( MO-297 only) this will directly upload out in the field to an ipad and if saved in a cloud service be instantly available on your Tablet as well to import the pictures into the claim file.

    My situation will be changing again next week. Through a few phone calls to Xactimate I have learned of a way to use more than one computer under a single license. I will be adding a Desktop into the mix which will be synced to the laptop through the Xactimate server. I will only be able to run one device at a time( pc or tablet) but it will give me the ability to run the loss on site, then check all line items, notes, pictures, add thermal imagery or disto measurements from my tablet mounted to a jotodesk in my truck. It can then be printed out from there in the vehicle OR i can work the claim on my desktop at the office when i return with the tablet and have them networked together. Of course you could always have a monitor and keyboard and mouse back at the office to plug the tablet into but a desktop has a bit more power to make the work Faster when needed.

    Im sure it all sounds a bit out of hand( and pricey) but in practice the setup has streamlined a lot of the job. you can definitely get away running just a tablet, any tablet. I did it for a few years. Im partial to my HP and their customer service has been great. Now that i have upgraded to Xactimate 27.3 Pro coupled with an Ipad2 it has completely changed the way i work.

    I know this was alot of information, especially being in the same industry from a possible competitor but since your a new tablet forums member ill give you a break. Happy Chasing!
     
  3. catadjuster01

    catadjuster01 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I have a question, with these new slate tablets out there with i5 processors. would it be beneficial to only have to use one electronic device. Xactimate says as long as the specs will run the program you should have a problem and the touch screen application works fine. Is this true? Is there anyone out there that uses a tablet pc. The two tablets that I have been looking at is the Samsung series 7 slate pc and the Asus Eee ep121 slate tablet. Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  4. Mydixiwrecked00

    Mydixiwrecked00 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I use a tablet pc, i have spent many hours with online, and on phone tech support with xactimate. i have evenhad remote sessions. bottom line... Xactimate, tiptap.exe, and tabletpcinputservice do not play nicely togeather. Tech support created custom buttons to enable and disable these processes and windows 7 still starts them even when they are disabled. Ultimately what you will encounter is a memory leak. On basic estimate sometimes they are not an issue but when you start sketching monster cut up roofing, or detailed floor plans and start your drag and drop estimating it happens. it also happens when annotating alot of images. 100 images is the max for a file acording to xactimate, but ive used many more by loading at a lower resolution. Once the memory leak happens you wil get an error and shut down the software.. you will then reopen it and try to reopen the file you were working on and it will say its not found in the table. so then you will go into the recycle bin and sometimes you can recover earlier auto saves. if its not in there then you go to whats called the liferaft file. when its no longer in there last stop is the instance=0 folder. and after that it is lost for good. You now have to start over. I have had to redo many files becuase of this issue.

    The machine i use is an hp tm2t with switchable graphics running 8 gigs of ram and a solid state drive. I use xactimate 27.3 Professional( just upgraded to 27.5 pro today). In the field I use a Leica d8 disto with the software and at the desk i run an acer 21" multi touch monitor and a logitech wireless desktop off the tablet. I average 3 files a day, some large, some small, and have experianced many issues. This machine has been to the mother ship 5 times and replaced once. I can duplicate the issues from a fresh reload with minimum software loaded.

    I can run the same files on a desktop with min requirements and it runs smoothly. Xactimate and tablets just really dont seem to get along. After talkign with tech support for the software, hp, and even apple i have learned that all i5s and i7'ss are not created equal. If im getting this right theres a slimline version used in tablets (slates) and ultrabooks thats nowhere near as powerful as its fullsize brethern. If that is indeed the truth then this could pose an issue.

    on a side note I recently set up 2 Macbooks with xactimate and i have to say its a refreshing new experiance, and i will be converting as soon as my order from apple arrives. IF you have any other questions please ask, I have not come across many answers on the net in my own searches so i spent alot of time on the phone with xactimate. Ill be glad to offer any assitance based on my experiances.
     
  5. catadjuster01

    catadjuster01 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I dont know when you first tried the tablet with xactimate but from what I have been able to research is that the newer tablets should be able to handle the software, per an xactimate tech employee.
    Dose anyone know anything about using the Samsung series 7 slate tablet, i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB solid state hard drive, 1.6Hz with a turbo of 2.3Hz processor speed?
    I hope it works out b/c I just ordered one yesterday
     
  6. Mydixiwrecked00

    Mydixiwrecked00 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I have been using a tablet full time for past 3 years. The current one was new as of last August. Im curious if the newer i5s are any better myself. I've spent too many hours of my life over the past couple years, even as recent as this week, to believe xactimate being tablet compatible. yes it will work, but understand it will have issues. 27.5 is having problems right out of the gate on the loading end with some of our regular laptops in the office. Have to let time pass and see what happens. Mine would get bottled up when it came to anything requiring extensive use of graphics. I can send you a mock esx of a file that would generally lock mine up if you'd like to see how yours handles it. I really wanted the tablet to work for this, it seems like the right tool for the job. Xactscope comes close, but just doesn't fill every void.

    PLEASE keep us informed on your experiance with the slate.
     
  7. catadjuster01

    catadjuster01 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I definetly will keep everyone informed. I understand the finger touch application may not work as well as we would want with xactimate but the Wacom Digitizer that comes with it has awsome response from the review videos I have seen. They tested the wacom against ipads touch features and the wacom was better 10 fold. It also has hand writing recognition, you can handwrite your own chicken scratch and it will transform it into a ledgable writing. it learns from you the more you use...supposely. We shall see, I should be getting it middle of next week and I will not be wasting any time on setting it up and trying it out. If it works out I want to look into using the Disto with the slate tablet. If interested check out the Samsung Series 7 slate tablet.
     
  8. Mydixiwrecked00

    Mydixiwrecked00 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    The issue is xactimate was written for windows xp. Even the latest revision of 27.5 is just yet another bandaid to help it limp it's way through the newest version of windows. Tablet support just really isn't there anymore. It says it is but it has many many bugs. I can attest that the cheapest laptop/ desktop will run it more effectively than the most expensive tablets. The issue is tiptap.exe and tablet pc input service. These two fight with xact over memory. The memory leak begins. The tablet crashes. You can put the services in manual then disable them. This defeats the reason you bought a tablet in the first place. It will run better for a short period of time but windows will automatically enable them on its own. If you are not a power user then this might never affect you, however if you use the software the way it was intended with large trees, annotated images, multi layer sketches, dimensional groups and attached documents within the claim then it's going to create frustration.

    This is from 3 years of experience running Xatimate on tablets and spending much time with tech support. If you are a power user and your findings differ please post.
     
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