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KC

What's a good cell phone for a home inspector?

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Firstly I'm a newbie to this forum and also as an inspector (just one make-up class to go; already took the state exam and passed). I am therefore gearing up to get into the field and want to make sure all my electronics are inline with my new profession.

My current cell is gonna go (a piece of you-know-what) and I've been looking at new smartphones and plans and was curious as to what the more electronically gifted among you use. I've been thinking it might be helpful to access email from my website between jobs as I want to be able to have requests via email as well as by phone.

Any ideas?

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I also have an iPhone, my web site is set up so that when I get a request for an inspection quote it will generate an email as well as a text message, many times when I call folks back in response to the text message clients are amazed as they would have just sent the query. That being said, it's not something you really need starting out. If you have any cell phone with good coverage for your intended inspection area then I think you are going to be good to go.

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I have my website/phone set up for similar, but I'm "old-fashioned" and don't have an i-phone or droid or such.

I reply to such online requests with a quick phone call (at an appropriate time during the inspection) and go from there.

I'm not into web surfing and all such things while I'm inspecting.

Prefer to do that in the comfort of my office.

Stick to basics ... "repeating" ... stick to basics. Then, as you get well-grounded (no electrical pun intended) add items that you thoroughly research that will work well for you and add value to you, your inspections and for your clients.

Again ... "stick to basics".

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Yes, and the basics should be an iPhone. It's better. Yes, it's more expensive (slightly), but it's better in so many ways.

I have various phones, one with Android. It's a "good" one, top of the line Droid thing. It's a clunky piece of crap. The operating sytsem is OK, it works, I can make calls, etc., but it's a clunky piece of crap. The touch screen is "stiff", it will shift pages for no apparent reason, some of the apps don't seem to work as well as the iPhone, battery life is absolutely horrible, etc., etc.

The iPhone, otoh, works. The touch screen is smooth, apps work seamlessly, you can talk to somebody at the same time as you're looking up data, great battery life, etc., etc.

I don't do any online surfing on the iPhone, but I could if I wanted to.

Get an iPhone. It's not excessive. It's the right business tool.

That said, AT&T service really sucks. Sucks bad. Check out your service area. Some are OK, others (mine) are not. It is well known and understood by most folks in major metro areas that AT&T service sucks.

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Don't rely on the AT&T service maps to make your decision, talk to folks that have the service. The wife and I had AT&T service for 8 days, that's how long it took to figure out that we couldn't make or receive phone calls when and where we needed to. Typing an address on the map indicated 3G, when in reality the phones were locked on emergency calls only at those locations. It took three months and 5 customer service schmucks to get all of my money back, then they sent my account to a collection agency.

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iPhone with AT&T works great for me IN MY AREA! But I note that Verizon either now does, or will soon, offer the iPhone.

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I’m on AT&T and I don’t have an IPhone. I think the service has been fine, although I don’t get very good reception in my home with my current phone (HTC Tilt2). I had great reception in my home with my last AT&T Motorola smartphone. Based on this information, it’s pretty clear to me that this is a phone issue.

I’ve spent some time at XDA Developers Forum (Ultra Cell Phone Geeks) searching their database, and concluding that I would need to reflash my Radio Rom if I want to improve reception. I’m not gonna do that since it’s a bit risky and you could “Brickâ€

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No, that's wrong. It's a good phone. A really good phone. It is not a toy; it is an amazingly powerful computing device. The new iPhone has 10 times more computing power than NORAD did in 1966 (interesting factoid I discovered.)

I just used one in China for 3 weeks, and it's flawless. There, the gov't. runs cell service, and it's incredible. Full bar signals everywhere; in the elevator, in tunnels under mountains, etc. It's amazing. Same thing with Wi-Fi; wherever you are, you got full tilt signal. Talking on an iPhone there is like talking with a land line.

Problems with iPhones are very site specific; it's about AT&T coverage, and in general, it sucks. Like Raymond said, don't rely on the maps; they're meaningless.

Cary and I are almost neighbors; we don't get service in Evanston in a lot of areas, and I mean a lot of areas. No. Service.

The Verizon network won't allow simultaneous phone conversation with data access, i.e., you can't be talking to someone while you're looking up something on a map. AT&T's network allows that; it's one of the differences in network capability. If AT&T had service, it'd be great, but they don't, so it's not.

After being in China, I understand just how crappy our infrastructure is for something so basic as a cellular call. My Chinese friends all remark how lousy service infrastructure is in America; they're quite surprised; they thought we had the good stuff. Wrong.

I switched everything to Verizon a while back, and at least I can get a signal in my house.

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Cary and I are almost neighbors; we don't get service in Evanston in a lot of areas, and I mean a lot of areas. No. Service.

Honestly Kurt, that has not been my experience.

I only get bad reception in my home. My workaround is to set up my home landline # as the "call forward" #. When my cell rings while I'm at home, I hit the "Decline Call" button on the phone and it gets forwarded to my landline. It's really the only reason I still have a landline. I got full signal strength nearly everywhere else.

I don't have any horses in this race, so I'm not trying to defend AT&T, it's just that my personal experiences and the information I've collected, points towards hardware issues.

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Hi KC,

Guess you'll have to figure out what kind of service you get in your area for the various gizmos before you'll be able to decide what to use.

My wife has the iPhone. She is apparently very happy with it's performance. She's always on it, wherever we go, and whenever she rides with me to a job and is waiting for me to get my part of the job done after her own part is done, she goes out and sits in the vehicle and will watch her Korean dramas on it. Me, I don't know how to use it, so I can't comment on it's performance (She had it five minutes and switched the user interface over to Korean script, so I have no idea how to make the think work.); even if it was in English I probably couldn't use it anyway, I'm sort of technology challenged.

I have a Samsung Rugby II with an accessory hard shell. It's got PTT, GPS, Internet Access, Mobile Email and a bunch of other crap on it that I don't know how to do and, with the exception of the mobile email, have never set up.

All I really needed was a phone that could link to the bluetooth device in my car; because it's illegal to drive here with a phone at your ear. I needed to be able to forward my Magic Jack office phone to it (I can), I needed it to take voice mail (it does) and I needed to be able to review my emails from out on the job (I can). Oh yeah, it's got a camera and a video thingy. I've taken a picture or two with it but I don't know how to make the video thingy work 'cuz I haven't really tried.

It fits the bill. Best of all, it's built heavy duty and can take a beating, which is what my phones are constantly subjected to. With the little accessory hard shell; which snaps over the original body of the phone, it's like a little armadillo.

I don't know much about the service problems aspect of it; for me it's been fine. I've been in areas here where others were standing there cussing the fact they were in dead space and I was able to call out or receive signals. Like I said, you need to know how different service providers work in your area.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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N

I just used one in China for 3 weeks, and it's flawless. There, the gov't. runs cell service, and it's incredible. Full bar signals everywhere; in the elevator, in tunnels under mountains, etc. It's amazing. Same thing with Wi-Fi; wherever you are, you got full tilt signal. Talking on an iPhone there is like talking with a land line.

The better to check up on you grasshopper.

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N

I just used one in China for 3 weeks, and it's flawless. There, the gov't. runs cell service, and it's incredible. Full bar signals everywhere; in the elevator, in tunnels under mountains, etc. It's amazing. Same thing with Wi-Fi; wherever you are, you got full tilt signal. Talking on an iPhone there is like talking with a land line.

The better to check up on you grasshopper.

True, but not accurate. There is a fundamental understanding of business over there. There's what we read about China, and there's reality.

I can tell you right now, at street level it's all about capitalism. Hard core capitalism.

The push for universal excellent cell and WiFI service is as much about business as it is on keeping tabs on everyone.

I talked with a lot of students. Everyone there seems to know how to get around censors and gov't. stuff, which is great. Expect continuing hard liners trying to shut down internet stuff and squash dissidents; that's part of the deal. But, also expect that the Chinese people have seen the future, and they like what they see.

They especially like Americans (love us), although they have a continuing curiosity how we became the biggest economy in the world behaving like buffoons that don't understand business.

"How ya' gonna keep 'em down on the farm, once they've seen Paree?" is what's going on there now. They've seen Paree.

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Thanks for all the useful advice. I have been looking into the new iphone but I was also considering a pocket pc to use with some inspection software. Can I use the iphone with any inspection software or do I need two seperate electronic gadgets? I really want something to record my inspection electronically as I do the inspection that will go into final format almost immediately (my thought is why add another step such as taking notes etc. when I can pretty much get it down while doing the job).

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"How ya' gonna keep 'em down on the farm, once they've seen Paree?" is what's going on there now. They've seen Paree.

Sounds like I oughta order a Rosetta Stone course on Chinese and get my butt in gear learning my new language.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Thanks for all the useful advice. I have been looking into the new iphone but I was also considering a pocket pc to use with some inspection software. Can I use the iphone with any inspection software or do I need two seperate electronic gadgets? I really want something to record my inspection electronically as I do the inspection that will go into final format almost immediately (my thought is why add another step such as taking notes etc. when I can pretty much get it down while doing the job).

I have an ipod touch but will get the iphone this summer when iphone 5 comes out. I have held off because at&t iphones are not getting good reception in my home area. I am a Verizon customer and now will switch to the iphone with them. If you are not in a big hurry wait and see if the ipad gets a phone feature at the same time. Then you would have a notebook and phone in one unit. Most apple stuff is announced mid summer.

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No need.......they all want to learn English. They view English as the "language of business".

And, after trying for several months, I'm still only capable of saying...........

Thank you = xie xie (Interestingly, Chinese rarely say thank you except to strangers or non-family)

You're welcome = bu ke qi

Hello = ni hao

Goodbye = zai jian

I don't understand = bu dang (Very important to know this phrase.......)

Please = qing

Yes = shi de

No = bu

I want = wo yao

I don't want = wo bu yao

May I ask = qing wen (important politeness, asking questions outright is rude)

May I kiss = qing wen (notice, it's the same as the previous, words all defined by the tone @ the end)

Boss = Laoban

Teacher = Laoshi

Secretary = Mishu

You are very beautiful = ne hen piao liang (very useful)

and.......

Where's the bathroom(?).......... Just say "WC?" There are even signs that say (WC), or.......

Click to Enlarge
tn_2011124162328_IMGP4641.jpg

33.05 KB

Don't bother using this guide, as I'm not able to put in the tonal variants with an English keyboard.

What's really baffling is learning the tones. All words have one of 4 tones.....up, down, flat, or wavering. The meaning of a word is entirely dependent on the tone, and the tones are extremely hard to discern. Note that "qing wen" means two entirely different things depending on the tone.

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You need the kind that makes paying customers call 3 times a day to book an inspection. [;)]

The problem with the touch pad phones is I have to put on my glasses to see where I am supposed to push, drag, drop, etc. Then I have to read all those silly text msgs and answer them using a touch pad.

Give me a phone with great voice service and unlimited battery life that can be dropped in a mud puddle in a crawl space, or off the roof of a house, and still work. A telephone is for talking (tele) not for texting, surfing, game playing, or watching movies. Pocket computers are toys.

Signed, Luddite

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Yeah, I used to say that too, until Seidner convinced me otherwise.

Get a good smartphone, they're an incredible business tool.

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I have been using iPhone for a number of years. I have great phone service and reception. No issues with phone conversation quality. I use the internet a lot for a quick reference with some issues I come across. I even used this site many time to get some quick info. I also can quickly forward pdf files to clients when a radon or water test result comes in. I think all the other smart phones are iPhone wannabes. On a side note -10 at the start of inspection today froze my ass off!

John Callan

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I have the iphone 4. Great tool. I get great reception everywhere except inside my house.

I had the same problem David, then I got a "Microcell" from At&T at $150.00, but it does the trick, I now have 5 bars in my lower level office, where before I couldn't make or receive calls!

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I've got a Blackberry Bold. I got it b/c I can receive emails when I'm out and about. I had been getting emails to do draw inspections but I wouldn't see them until I got home (really sucked because several times I had just driven past the area of the inspection). I do (now) use the internet on the Bold and it's nice to be able to talk or look up stuff simultaneously. I realize the Iphone is faster when it comes to internet stuff.

I agree that ATT service sucks and I thought Sprint sucked. Definition of irritating (for me): First day after getting ATT, my inspection is in an area without any ATT signal whatsoever...nothing...nada...zip. My brand new Blackberry was basically an expensive paperweight. The realtor was talking on her Verizon phone the entire time AND using her Verizon mobile broadband to surf the internet on her laptop. aargh.

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I upgraded to the Torch from the Blackberry Bold. The Bold is a good workhorse, compact with good battery life. The Torch offers me a better entertainment function that the Bold did. The Bold has good music and video playback but the screen is small. The Torch has a much larger screen, almost identical to the iphone. This allows me to watch movies, listen to podcasts, or music while I travel. The added feature of tethering to my laptop (providing internet access) and phone at the same time is really helpful sometimes.

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Currently, I'm on a Sprint Evo 4G w/ an extended battery (there is a slide-out keyboard version with better battery life as well), for me the big plus of any of the Android phones for business use is the seamless integration with the GOOGLE web apps and thus with your PC - you can achieve the same result w/ other phones, but it's a lot more work.

On of the slick things about the Evo (and as I understand it, with most of the new Android phones) is how well they do WiFi; the instant I pull up to the house and before I even get out of the vehicle the phone grabs an IP on my home net and switches off the cell radio, so I have an A+ voice signal and a very fast net connection plus greatly extended battery life, in fact I find that I use the phone to check e-mail etc. rather than bothering to walk over to the PC. And once I have logged into any hot spot (for example, at my local coffee shop) the phone remembers the connection and reestablishes it if a signal is available.

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