Which is the Best Tablet for Architects?
We’re often asked which is the best tablet for running Archisnapper and for general use in the architecture and construction business. While every individual has specific needs and in the end it comes down to personal preference as to which tablet is best for you, we do have a bit of advice that may help you decide.
If you’re confused with all the choice and don’t know where to start looking, this article can help to point you in the right direction. If you still have questions, feel free to shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to give you some further advice.
Before you start getting overwhelmed with the sheer number of tablets on the market, it’s a good idea to sit down with a pen and paper and write down some specifics about what you are looking for. Think about how and where you will be using your tablet and what features are most important to you. Once you’ve started to build up a picture of your “ideal” tablet, you can start looking for models that match up with your requirements.
It’s important to have a budget in mind before you start browsing, although this may change as you start to get a better idea of what you can get for your money. As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”, and this is often true when shopping for tablets.
You can pick up a cheap Android tablet for less than $100, but these ultra-cheap tablets are designed for casual users who use their tablet mainly for web surfing and playing games, not for serious work.
Apple’s offerings (i.e. the iPads) are at the higher end of the pricing market and are considered by many to be the “Rolls Royce” of the tablet world. If you’re going for Android, there’s a much wider price range across models. Bear in mind that while the operating system may technically be the same, the cheaper tablets skimp in terms of durability, screen quality, storage space, memory, battery life and many other features.
The two biggest players in the tablet world are Android and iOS, so we’d recommend choosing one of the two for maximum compatibility and range of apps. There are other options available such as Windows and Blackberry tablets but for now at least, the software options on these devices are relatively limited.
We’re not going to get into a debate over Apple versus Android, as this comes down to personal preference, but each have pros and cons.
If you currently use an Apple Mac, you’ll probably want to stick with what you know and choose an iPad. Apple products are always well designed and iOS is intuitive and easy to use. There are about the same number of apps available now for iOS and Android but iOS apps tend to be better quality as the vetting system to be accepted to the Apple store is much stricter than the Android marketplace.
Having said that, many apps these days are designed with versions for both systems but it’s worth checking first if there is an app you have your heart set on before you buy.
Android devices tend to be cheaper so you may be able to get more for your money. You also have a wider choice of tablets with offerings from Samsung, Sony, Asus and others.
All tablets are WiFi ready, but not all have 3G connectivity. This is something you want to consider carefully as if you’re out of range of a WiFi signal, you won’t be able to download or upload files, or sync your data.
Tablets without 3G tend to be a bit cheaper but we would recommend choosing a model with full 3G connectivity if you can afford it, so that you can get online wherever you are. Mobile internet is still somewhat limited at the moment but coverage and speeds are growing and the price is lowering all the time.
We’re also now seeing some 4G tablets appearing on the market, which provides a faster mobile internet connection where available. This may not seem worth it right now, as the functionality is still rolling out, but it won’t be long before 4G replaces 3G and you may regret not thinking ahead (can you imagine being limited to a slower 2G connection now?)
Tablets for Architects: Special Considerations
As you’ll be using your tablet while you’re out and about on the construction site, it’s also important to bear in mind features of your tablet that may not be of importance to more typical users:
- Practicality – Your tablet should be comfortable to hold and walk around with on-site. While larger tablets are great for viewing plans, smaller tablets are better in terms of portability. Smaller tablets like the iPad Mini are often a good choice as they are bigger than a phone, so easy to read and write on, but still small enough to put in your pocket if you need to climb a ladder.
- Ruggedness – When on a construction site, your tablet will be subject to all sorts of less than ideal conditions such as dust, rain and mud. You’re also more likely to drop your tablet as you’ll be using it while walking around. While it’s a good idea to look for a tablet that is relatively sturdy, you shouldn’t let this influence your choice too much. There is a huge range of protective cases available for tablets of all sizes so just make sure you include this in your budget and insure your tablet along with backing up your files to the cloud for peace of mind.
- Battery life – As you’ll probably be using your tablet for long periods away from a source of power, it’s important to make sure you choose a tablet with decent battery life. Most modern tablets will offer a day or so worth of battery power with normal use but cheaper tablets tend to require more regular charging, so keep this in mind.
Our Top Recommendations for Tablets for Architects
New tablets are coming out all the time and the models we suggest here won’t always be the best but as we’re coming up to the January 2014 sales and it’s an excellent time to treat yourself with a new tablet. Here are our current highly recommended tablets for architects:
High Budget ($500+)
If you want maximum power, quality and functionality and money isn’t an issue, you can’t go wrong with one of these tablets. They’re fast, light, have plenty of memory and storage space, great battery life and a high quality camera.
While they’re not cheap, if you’re going to be using your tablet day in and day out, it’s worth the investment. If your business depends on your tablet and you use apps like Dropbox, Archisnapper, Google Maps and email constantly while you’re on the move, consider spending a little extra for a better experience.
Low Budget ($200 – $300)
If you’re on a lower budget and don’t mind apps running a bit slower, or you only use a tablet occasionally, you’d do well to choose one of these Android tablets. These are still high quality devices but they don’t have the power of the more expensive models so bear in mind that tasks may take you a bit longer and this could impact on your billable hours.
Mid budget ($400 – $700)
If you’re after something that is better than the budget options but more affordable than the top models, or you’d love an iPad but your budget won’t stretch that far, consider the iPad Mini.
Prices for the iPad Mini start at $399 (going up with more memory) so it’s affordable for most people, but still an excellent tablet, great for those who prefer using Apple technology and a good size for use on the construction site.
Many of our users have an iPad Mini and it is our personal favorite and top recommendation for a great compromise between price and features.