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Get ready for a whole new level of productivity – with an iPad!

For years, REALTORS® have worked to increase access to important sales information while on the go. First they tried laptops, although many models weigh nearly 10 pounds, too heavy to carry all day. Next they tried to cram everything into smart phones. However, the tiny screens work against all day use, and made sharing data with clients impossible. Thank goodness, then, for the emergence of tablet computing, which, in the form ofApple’s iPad, combines the best of both worlds. Better still, the iPad improves upon them.

The iPad is a salesperson’s dream. It’s powerful: A fast processor coupled with a large 32 or 64 GB hard drive makes the iPad the first truly powerful computing platform under a pound. A brilliant 11-inch screen makes it the ideal customer presentation tool. It equally serves as replacement for paper, and as a television, on the go. With WiFi and cellular internet access, bluetooth connectivity to printers and keyboards, plus 10-plus hours of battery life, you have the ideal sales companion.

And did we mention the goodies? The iPad 2 includes a front- and rear-facing digital camera. So you can take high-resolution photos, record videos and video conference like they did on Star Trek!

It’s also geo-aware, so most applications (apps) know where you are standing and instantly reference local information, from the nearest coffee shop to the closest listings to show buyers. Geo-awareness eliminates the need to actually conduct a search; just tap or swipe the screen to get to more sales data.

Of course, what really makes the iPad a selling platform is the variety and sophistication of over 80,000 apps you can download. Many are free; the vast majority cost a dollar or two. Some premium apps cost a little more. Regardless, building a library of top software app won’t break the bank.  Simply search and download apps from anywhere – it’s all done wirelessly – so you can solve problems by seeking an app wherever you go.

Now imagine the ways the iPad can help you deliver results for your clients:

  • Basic productivity tools – email, calendar, contact database and photo library – are preloaded. You’re ready to connect with prospects and sphere of influence within minutes of unpacking the iPad. With an 11-inch screen, you’ll find managing daily tasks and communications to be far superior to your smartphone.
  • Download a property program such as the app to immediately access listings, rentals and open houses. One tap launches the program, a second tap instantly finds homes nearby. It works nicely to show sellers competing properties. Since the iPad follows you as you move, it constantly updates nearby listings, making it the perfect showing companion with buyers in the car.
  • DropBox lets you carry the same files on your laptop, smartphone and iPad by synchronizing up to 2 GB of data (free). Essentially, you store files, pictures, documents, spreadsheets, videos and anything else need handy “in the cloud.” DropBox keeps all of your devices synchronized wirelessly. You will never have an “I left it on the computer at work” moment again. Plus you can share files with clients, eliminating flash drives and email attachments.
  • The high-resolution camera can document property tours with buyers, then share it by DropBox. It’s a far better way to remember each listing they saw than poorly printed listing sheets.
  • Open houses get a make-over with apps like OpenHomePro. Capture contact information, provide property information, conduct surveys and even share content with them via social networks. Following up with your open house visitors has never been easier.
  • Speaking of social networks, dozens of apps like Hootsuite or Flipboard will transform your mobile social experience into beautiful, large-screen engagements. Apple’s Safari browser is built in, so you can always resort to the browser-desktop-style experience, too.
  • Take notes and synchronize them with all of your computing devices with Evernote. Similar to DropBox, this free app lets you create electronic “notes” to capture anything: text, screen shots, web pages, photos and audio recordings. It then synchronizes them to all of your devices over the web. Categorize notes with tags and arrange them into “piles” or notebooks of related content. Evernote replaces traditional databases with something we’re all familiar with – the sticky note – in an updated fashion that takes advantage of the iPad’s wireless connectivity.
  • Finally, Keynote is a must-have program for most sales professionals. Whether you already have a bunch of PowerPoints (which Keynote reads instantly) or you’re just getting into electronic presentations, the iPad becomes your mini sales display with clients. If you struggled in the past to do electronic presentations because your laptop was clunky, the iPad will make them a joy to create, carry and conduct.

Soem people are worried about learning a new platform, but there’s nothing to learn on the iPad. There’s no searching for files and programs, because they all sit on your home screen. There are only two buttons on the entire device: Power and Home. Backing up is a breeze; just synchronize with iTunes program or save content into DropBox. You don’t even need to carry a charger with you all day, because the iPad easily goes for 10 hours, even when delivering presentations and showing videos.

Does the iPad completely replace your laptop? Not entirely. At least not yet. There are some tasks, like editing video, that still need a laptop. Still, iPad is the perfect day-to-day companion! Once you start carrying around an iPad, you’ll probably never leave it behind. It’s the most important “must have” for real estate agents since the digital camera. And give iPad some time; It will likely replace both of those soon, too!