Paul’s Picks: Summer and fall 2014 devices

Written by on November 7, 2014

Paul is one of our Appraisal Product Instructors. He's an expert on a la mode software and mobile workflow solutions, and is an unabashed gadget hound and device geek. He's taught hundreds of classes over the years to appraisers and, along with Joel Baker, has been on the road for our Modern Appraiser Roadshows over the past several months, where they cover everything you need to know about TOTAL, TOTAL Sketch, and TOTAL for Mobile.

If you've attended one of our Modern Appraiser Roadshows over the past few months or one of our Mobile Workshops before that, you may have seen the wide variety of devices we had on-hand for appraisers to try out. We didn't just pull that list of devices out of thin air. We spent the time to talk with appraisers about what they use in the field, and to research what devices made the most sense as field data collection tools. We know what works and what doesn't.

After talking to hundreds of appraisers about devices and the types of things that they're concerned with when considering what they should buy, one thing is clear. Everyone has something different that is their primary consideration. Some folks want specific operating systems (e.g. iOS or Android), others are more concerned with the size of a device, while some have cost as their main concern. As a result, it's impossible to make a blanket recommendation for every person.

I've found that for my own use, weight has become one of my primary considerations when looking at a new device, followed next by screen size. For example, if I'm presented with two devices of different screen sizes but one weighs significantly more than the other, I'm more likely to choose the lighter device, even if that means sacrificing screen size. But if two devices weigh virtually the same (the iPad Air and iPad mini, for example), then I'll choose the one with the larger screen size at that point.

I can tell you what I use right now, (an iPad Air 2 for iOS and a Galaxy Tab S 8.4) but that may not be what's best for you. Instead, I've updated the lists I put together late last year in what I call my Device Picker Matrix. Use it to help narrow your list of devices to consider. All the devices I've included below are ones that I've used and that I feel like represent the best of what's available today.

To the lists! – UPDATED 11/07/2014

I've arranged this into several different lists of my picks, each arranged according to the primary device consideration you may be most concerned about. This list is based on my experience with these different devices, and reflects what I consider the best device to be in each category. Remember, these are opinions, but if you have questions about why I felt like one device was better than the other, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to let you know. Also, mobile technology is continually in flux, so it's important to realize that pricing and links below can change.

If you reviewed these lists back in December of last year, you may find that many devices are still relevant. Lots of devices have been introduced, but for the most part the ones we were recommending for 2013 holiday season are still here. Pricing has been updated, and a handful of standout devices have been added to the mix (and some older devices retired).

1. iPad Air 2 – 16GB, WiFi-only $499 Apple
2. Nexus 7 – 16GB, WiFi-only * $198 Amazon
alaxy Tab S 10.5 $479 Amazon
Pad mini 2 w/retina display – 16GB, WiFi-only $299 Apple
5. Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) – 16GB $429 Amazon
1. Galaxy Tab 4 (7 inch) – 8GB $168 Amazon
2. Nexus 7 – 16GB, WiFi-only * $198 Amazon
3. Galaxy Tab 4 (8 inch) – 16GB $239 Amazon
4. Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ (10 inch) – 16GB $250 Amazon
5. iPad mini (2012) – 16GB, WiFi-only $249 Apple
6. iPad mini 2 w/retina display – 16GB, WiFi-only $299 Apple
7. Galaxy Note 8.0 (2013) – 16GB, WiFi-only $350 Amazon
alaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) – 16GB $429 Amazon
9. Galaxy Tab S 10.5 $479 Amazon
1 Pad Air 2 – 16GB, WiFi-only $499 Apple
Small Tablets
1. iPad mini 2 w/retina display – 16GB, WiFi-only $299 Apple
2. Nexus 7 – 16GB, WiFi-only $229 Google
3. Galaxy Tab S 8.4 $389 Amazon
alaxy Note 8.0 (2013) – 16GB, WiFi-only $350 Amazon
alaxy Tab 4 (7 inch) – 8GB $168 Amazon
Full-sized Tablets
1. iPad Air 2 – 16GB, WiFi-only $499 Apple
alaxy Tab S 10.5 $479 Amazon
3. Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) – 16GB $429 Amazon
4. Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 $544 Amazon
5. Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ (10 inch) – 16GB $250 Amazon
alaxy Tab S 8.4 $389 Amazon
exus 7 – 16GB, WiFi-only * $198 Amazon
alaxy Note 8.0 (2013) – 16GB, WiFi-only $350 Amazon
4. LG G Pad 8.3 (Google Play edition) – 16GB WiFi-only $330 Amazon
alaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) – 16GB $499 Amazon
NOTE: I've specifically left Kindles off my Android list because while we do make TOTAL for Mobile available in the Amazon App Store, these devices are so heavily skinned by Amazon's custom flavor of Android that they become more difficult to use when multi-tasking. Additionally, many other software providers do not make their apps available on Kindle.
1. iPad Air 2 – 16GB, WiFi-only $499 Apple
Pad mini 2 w/retina display – 16GB, WiFi-only $299 Apple
Pad mini 3 – 16GB, WiFi-only $399 Apple
4. iPhone 6+ – 16GB $749 Apple
5. iPad mini 2 (2012) – 16GB, WiFi-only $249 Apple

NOTE: I've intentionally placed the iPad 2 w/retina display (2013's model) above the iPad mini 3 due to the fact that the sole new feature of this year's model is the TouchID fingerprint reader. Aside from that, the internals are the exact same parts as last year. There is absolutely no change in the processor, display, etc…

For most people, I imagine that TouchID and a gold device option aren't worth that extra $100.


While I honestly believe that most appraisers will have a better in-field experience using a dedicated data collection tablet running either Android or iOS, I know that there are some folks out there who will always prefer a true PC/tablet experience. There are still only a couple of devices out that I can recommend. You may know of others, and if you do, please send them to us at and let us know what you think of it.

1. Surface Pro 3 $799 (to start) Microsoft
2. Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro $1,299 Lenovo

Phablets are interesting, and some people will prefer them simply because they combine phone and tablet functionality into a single device. And while TOTAL for Mobile will certainly work just fine, I don't personally feel like sketching becomes truly feasible until you have a device with at least a 5.5 inch or larger screen. Data collection and photos are fine… but I need a larger screen for sketching. Your mileage may vary.

This segment is huge (literally AND figuratively), and has grown quite a bit in the past year. Even Apple has gotten into the category with the iPhone 6+. Phablets are here to stay, and growing in popularity.

NOTE: You should check with your cellular carrier before purchasing one of these devices to ensure that it can run on their network. Alternatively, some carriers will offer these devices directly, which helps to ensure compatibility.

1. Galaxy Note 4 – 32GB, LTE $799 Amazon
Phone 6+ – 16GB $749 Apple
G G 3 $580 Amazon
3. Galaxy Note 3 – 32GB, LTE $599 Amazon
4. Galaxy Mega 6.3 – 32GB, LTE $429 Amazon

* Note that Google announced the Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 on 10/15/2014, and with time the Nexus 7 will no longer be available. However, until I get a chance to use one, I can't put it on my lists, even though I expect it to be an excellent tablet and will likely be a drop-in replacement on my lists for the Nexus 7.

If you've got a device you're finding works well for you that we didn't list here, or questions about a device you're considering, let us know by e-mailing