Building survey is always done on location where working conditions might not be ideal. So if you decide to ditch the pen and paper, you want something inexpensive, portable, rugged, with a visible screen and long battery life. Many tablets perform much better than laptops in these categories, moreover, they cost less. Most of the devices in the $500+ price range would provide you with these benefits:
Benefits of the tablet platform
- A tablet is easy to learn to use
- Running at least a day on battery
- Strong, fast enough to run OrthoGraph fluently
- Multi touch screen makes tablets very comfortable for CAD use
- Bluetooth® connectivity to selected laser distance meters (Leica and Bosch devices)
- Built-in camera – no need to bring another device to the site
- High resolution, bright display with anti-reflective screen
- Operating system is part of the device
- Very stable software environment
- No viruses (iOS)
- Very durable – compared to devices with keyboards or hard disk
- Easy to get rugged – even military grade – protective cases under $100
- Backup everything through mobile internet to OrthoGraph Cloud
- Fast and lower cost to replace – compared to notebooks
- Many times there are insurance options available to the hardware
- App Store or Google Play have a lot of great apps you can use to complement your work (see below for apps we recommend).
Recommended Hardware Models
Although OrthoGraph runs on most tablets, the better the hardware, the faster OrthoGraph works. All CAD software need strong hardware and OrthoGraph is no exception. We list here a “Performance index”, which is a subjective number of the user experience on the particular tablet device.
Minimum 32GB system storage is recommended – OrthoGraph drawing, BIM models use under 2GB of system storage even during hard work, but images/videos shot on the site might use large amounts (5+ GB) of system storage. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need space if you want to install other Apps too.
Mobile internet – Although all the OrthoGraph features work offline, too, connection to the internet might come in handy if you want to log in to the OrthoGraph Cloud, send or receive emails, etc.
|Platform||Our recommendation||Performance Index Subjective number||Screen||Camera quality||Accessory availability||Weight (WIFI / Cellular)||GPS|
|Apple iPad Pro||highly recommended||99% due to increased weight only||12.9", outstanding high resolution, equipped with special anti-reflective and anti-fingerprint coating||very good high resolution, sensitive in low-light, but no flash||coming in 2016||might be more than acceptable for some users 713 g / 723 g||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad Air 2||highly recommended||100%||9.7", outstanding high resolution, equipped with special anti-reflective and anti-fingerprint coating||very good high resolution, sensitive in low-light, but no flash||Many accessories (e.g. rugged cases) to this device||really lightweight 437 g / 444 g||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad Air||highly recommended||95%||9.7", very good high resolution, equipped with anti-fingerprint coating||very good high resolution, sensitive in low-light, but no flash||Many accessories (e.g. rugged cases) to this device||lightweight 469 g, 478 g||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad 4 retina||recommended only for rare use||70%||9.7", very good high resolution||very good high resolution, sensitive in low-light, but no flash||Harder to find, but there are some great accessories||lightweight||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad 3 and older devices||not recommended||under 50% enough to try but not recommended for work||9.7", good||good poor low light quality||Harder to find, but there are some great accessories||acceptable||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad mini 4||highly recommended||100%||7.9", outstanding high resolution, equipped with special anti-reflective and anti-fingerprint coating||very good high resolution, sensitive in low-light, but no flash||Many accessories (e.g. rugged cases) to this device||really lightweight 298.8 g / 304 g||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad mini 2||highly recommended||95%||7.9", very good Equipped with high resolution anti-fingerprint coating||very good high resolution, sensitive in low-light, but no flash||Many accessories (e.g. rugged cases) to this device||really lightweight 331 g / 341 g||only in cellular models|
|Apple iPad mini||not recommended||under 50% enough to try but not recommended for work||7.9", good||good poor low light quality||Harder to find, but there are some great accessories||lightweight||only in cellular models|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (SM-T800)||recommended||85% mainly because of missplaced hardware buttons||10.1", good high resolution, might be less comfortable in bright light 16x9 screen ratio||good high resolution, usable low-light, equipped with flash||Many accessories (e.g. rugged cases) to this device||lightweight 467 g||yes|
Other useful Apps that we recommend
We believe a tablet is the best tool for building survey; however, it does much more than just that. Here’s a list of apps that we recommend as they would surely aid you whatever you need to get done during or even outside working hours.
Evernote – make notes about everything, store PDF files, store images that are also made searchable by Evernote, add tags, GPS location and timestamp
Built in camera App – photos (with GPS), panoramic shots, videos
Trello – for organizing tasks of whole projects and work together with colleagues even from a distance.
PhotoTransferApp – transferring photos and videos from the mobile device comfortably without any cable through local WIFI network.
Genius Scan + – scan everything like with a scanner. Existing as-built paper drawings can be scanned and saved to camera roll to use it in OrthoGraph as background images of surveys. It is easy to cut out only the valuable document part from the photos, enhance them and to convert images to PDF files.
MiniKeePass (iOS) and Keepass2Android – store usernames, passwords, links at a very safe place accessible through one main password (that must not be used anywhere else, but only in the particular “safe” file).
VoiceRecordPro (iOS) – make voice notes with unlimited length
Paper 53 (iOS) – for sketching, drafting, noting what is in the mind. Really a great drawing app.
Notability (iOS only) – make written + sketched notes while recording audio. Later on both can be recalled in parallel with each-other.
Dictating to the device – if you have live internet connection, then there is no more comfortable way of entering text than dictating to the tablet – we recommend using a headset with microphone for that. It is supported by the operating system both on iOS and Android in many languages.
Skype – video chat with others directly from the site (fast mobile internet is required). You can show what you see and discuss issues with your colleagues from a distance.
Waze – navigation system with the help of the community. Although it requires continuous internet usage but it gives also the benefit of connectivity by providing live traffic information provided by other people.
Miratia – is made by our partner company which is a great city puzzle, a 90-120 minutes game experience for the family right out in the city. With the GPS in the tablet we can play interesting and funny games, find clues and solve mysteries while having a nice walk.
AVPlayerHD (iOS) – when sitting on the plane or on the train sometimes it is great to have a rest. During this time we love to read, listen to music, but with the iPad it is also possible to watch great movies – e.g. OrthoGraph training videos. We use this App for this and also for presenting our videos during meetings or exhibitions.
Newsify (iOS) – for being well informed. We sign up to those on-line magazines, RSS feeds where we can be informed about what we are interested about. This App changes the iPad to a very good magazine reader. You can also sign up to the OrthoGraph blog by using the App, so you can be informed about OrthoGraph news besides many other magazines on the same easy-to-read page.
Find iPhone (iOS) – great to find the iPad device when forgotten about where it has been left.
…and our last recommendation for waking up happily everyday:
Sleep Cycle – an alarm clock that track how you sleep and wakes up at the best moment, when it “hurts the least”.