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In my sweeping re-evaluation of all of my equipment and methods, I'm also looking at handhelds as a possible piece of the overall puzzle. I'd be interested in any and all opinions based on experience, good or bad.

I'm also looking at 3-D software if I go that way. Anybody using 3-D with a handheld? Good, bad, ugly?

Brian G.

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I use the 3-D software on a Casio Cassiopeia E-200.

The last revision for the hand held was the one I've been waiting for since I started using a handheld three years ago.

It works great, If you have someone else on the inspection using a different handheld you can merge your reports. For example: One person does the interior while the other does the exterior. Come to the laptop in the kitchen download and print.

Tips:

Get windows pocket PC 2003 or newer operating system.

If your handheld takes photos you can import them directly into the report and print them in the report using a infer-red connection to a printer.

Get the Office Management System also. It takes a little bit to set up but it makes life much easier. It also is compatible with Peachtree and quick books.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Disclaimer:

I do not work for or sell 3-D In fact I am selling my business to another company and will no longer be using it for regular inspections. (I may still use it for phase inspections.)

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I use 3D as well Brian and like it a lot. I however, still can't get use to the handheld. I've tried to use it on a few occasion and found that:

1) Handhelds that do not have a keyboard are next to impossible to type with. You have to use a pop-up keyboard and then tap all the letters. It took less time just to input everything on the laptop after the inspection.

2) Importing pictures still had to be done with the laptop for printing but from Scott's post it would appear that they now have PDA's that can take pictures as well. That would be a big plus.

3) In 3D they have "standard paragraphs" which you can import into a report. These are your custom boilerplates. In the PDA version of 3D you don't have this option (to the best of my knowledge.) I use my standard boilerplate on all of my reports for things I find in a home sooooo, that puts me back at the laptop.

I've tried to use my PDA and then sync it with the laptop on an inspection but it took more time than just cranking up the laptop.

Last but not least is cost factor. I use my PDA for contacts, scheduling appointments and tasks. Works great when you sync with MS Outlook. It would really bug me if I dropped it or crushed it or in some other way damaged it while climbing through a home.

Other than the PDA thing I really like 3D. It also makes a great marketing tool.

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I tried to use a PDA, and it just slowed me down. Because most of the homes I inspect are fairly similar, I have a template of a "perfect" home, that I use for almost every house.

When I do my report, I just add the defects, and make adjustments for any unique descriptions.

Like Terrance, I find that using the PDA keyboard is cumbersome, and I have to do stuff on the laptop anyway.

For me, a digital recorder is the way to go. I wear it on a cord around my neck, and I always have my hands free (no notebook).

I use Inspectvue 3, which is similar to 3-D but, in my never to be humble opinion, has better customer support.

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I use 3D and the PDA program. I have been doing it this way for about three years. Yes it does take a little getting use to and it might add sometime to your inspection at first but once you learn how to use it, I think you will like it.

I use my PDA like a note pad. I am not trying to complete the report onsite so I don't fill in everything. When I get back to my office I Sync it to my main computer open the report, merge any photos and complete the report. It takes me about 30 minutes on the average to complete and email a report to my customer compared to two hours when I had to transcribe everything from a legal pad into the computer.

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Interesting. What handhelds are you guys using? How's the battery life?

Has anyone tried a Dell Axim? They look like a lot of bang for the buck, lots of memory and flexibility. A tad chunky, but I actually prefer that to all of the "itty-bitty"ism myself.

Brian G.

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I have been using a Compaq IPAQ 3765, I am using the expansion pack with an extra battery built into the pack and it will run for about 6 hours with no problems. The battery in the 3765 will last for about 2 hours and that is with the back light on bright. I turn the unit on and off to help save the battery.

I going to replace my 3765 soon and I have been looking at the Dell Axim X3i, it is smaller than the Compaq has a larger screen and it is about $200 less than a comparable Compaq/HP PDA.

I do not know a thing about the battery on the Dell however, I asked a guy at the Dell store at Chicago O'Hare and he said it is rated for 3-5 hours on time, it depends on the back light settings, etc.

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Brian,

I just switched to the Dell Axim with Borealis. If memory serves correctly, you also use Borealis. I just converted my old template and BAM, same report with some upgrades.

My Dell is 2 weeks old, I also got an upgraded battery (so now I have 2, 1 I got with the PC and the additional). A single battery is fine with doing 2 inspections a day. I also got a foldable keyboard to help with the odd houses.

The Dell is faster than my old CLIO, and is visible in direct sunlight. It may take a week or so to get used to the small print, but I think it's well worth it.

Darren

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Originally posted by Darren

I just switched to the Dell Axim with Borealis. If memory serves correctly, you also use Borealis. I just converted my old template and BAM, same report with some upgrades.

Yeah, I'm still on Borealis. I'm gonna replace it, but the software will probably be the last piece. Did your standard Borealis PC version go right onto the Dell, or did you have to get the "Handheld" version?

A single battery is fine with doing 2 inspections a day. I also got a foldable keyboard to help with the odd houses.

The reviews I've read rated the battery life very high. I saw the keyboard. I like the way the unit docks right onto it. It looks a little tight though (9 inches wide, I think). Does it feel tight when you're typing on it?

The Dell is faster than my old CLIO, and is visible in direct sunlight.

That's good to know.

Brian G.

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Brian,

I had what was called a CE version; had to order the PocketPC version, usually a small ($250) fee. Like I said, I converted the old template to the new version, same report, very little work needed to convert.

The foldable keyboard is smaller, it's really not to bad to work with.

I am also capable of adding pictures into the report, the camera card fits into the Dell memory.

I think you'll like it (after a couple of days of practice).

Darren

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Originally posted by Darren

I had what was called a CE version; had to order the PocketPC version, usually a small ($250) fee.

Dang...I figured that.

The foldable keyboard is smaller, it's really not to bad to work with.

Well, it's gotta be better than trying to tap out a sentence with a stylus on keys the size of BB's.

Thanks Darren, all of that helps.

Is it just me or is the massive and varied selection of technology a bit overwhelming? More than a bit.

Brian G.

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