Android vs Chromebook - The Android Real Estate Mobile Office

I had already given away my iPhone and iPad right after Apple dumped Google Maps, which were quite valuable to me. So, Android was my new toy. I went to a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone and really liked it. Then I started looking critically at my HP Mini 2140 Netbook. While it's been a great little machine with a 10" screen, the heavy batteries and carrying two of them around as well as a charger were getting old. Maybe I was just in the "new tech toy" mode.

Smart Phone and Tablet/Netbook All Android Mobile Office

Android Office Components
Android Office Components. Jim Kimmons

I really wanted a 10" Android device, but a reasonably-sized keyboard is critical for my writing. While there are a few Android "netbook" type devices out there, notably manufactured by Wolvol, they were out of stock when I was looking. The under $200 price made me nervous. That's despite great reviews, so you may want to check them out.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet was really calling out to me, but I didn't want just a tablet ... needed that keyboard. Then I found that Logitech was selling a keyboard case designed specifically for the Tab 2. The Bluetooth keyboard would press onto the front of the tablet creating a nice case and protection for the screen. No cables were needed for connection, so I took the plunge and bought both of them from Amazon for a total under $400. Only around $38 of that was the keyboard.

Android vs Chromebook

I don't own a Chromebook, nor have I used one. However, due to my really great experience with my Android phone, I really leaned toward the Android platform, especially when I found the Logitech keyboard case for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. I must have a keyboard for my writing, and can't touch-type on a screen.

The reason I didn't want to go Chromebook was the far greater choice in apps for Android over Chromebook. With the Chromebook apps requiring running in Chrome, Android apps are like software, stored on the device and running programs on the device independent of Internet access. I want to show you what I'm using both on my phone and tablet/netbook, and even how they communicate with each other. It's truly a mobile office with almost everything I need to work on the go.

Android Smart Phone for my Android Office

Samsung Galaxy S3
Samsung Galaxy S3. Jim Kimmons

When I switched from iOS to Android, the first thing I ordered was the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. It proceeded to become the biggest selling smartphone in the world for many months. Android isn't the same as iOS, and there are good points about each. However, once I made the switch I've never looked back.

At that time, a tablet had entered my mind, but I really needed to replace the iPhone with something that uses Google Maps, has GPS and a good camera. The Samsung Galaxy S3 covered all of the bases. Because I take a lot of photos of the area for my real estate site, and photos around the Rocky Mountains for another site I have, the GPS and camera in the phone were perfect for my needs.

I also had a Bluetooth keyboard from Apple that worked just fine with the phone. I found that using the WordPress App for Android I could take geo-tagged photos from WordPress into a post, type out my post on the keyboard, and have it up on the site easily. Sure, it's a small screen, but my distant vision is better than my close-up vision, so I could put the phone in landscape orientation and type away.

There are so many great apps I loaded up on the phone. Some are for business, but many for personal use. ​Here are a few:

  • Gmail of course
  • Google+
  • Podkicker Pro for podcasts
  • OfficeSuite Pro for documents and spreadsheets for real estate and writing
  • Instagram
  • Zipforms for real estate
  • DocuSign for electronic signatures
  • Google Reader
  • HandBase for custom databases
  • Hootsuite
  • CamScanner for scanning documents
  • Text by Voice (I hate tiny keyboards)
  • Karl's Mortgage Calculator
  • WiFi File Transfer Pro to transfer files to my desktop
  • FtpCafe Pro
  • Google Drive
  • HDR Camera+
  • There are dozens more

I use the phone for all of the normal "phone things," as well as using it for writing and blog posting from the field. However, I couldn't stand it, as I plan on a lot more travel and writing is a big part of my income. I wanted a better screen, larger size, etc. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 Tablet, 10.1 inch

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 inch
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 inch. Jim Kimmons

A really great surprise was when the start-up of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet resulted in Google and Android immediately installing all of the apps right for that device on it without me having to jump through any hoops. Since the tablet doesn't have a front-facing camera, some of the apps weren't installed, but that was expected.

The screen is amazing, and the ability to lay out my app icons in folders is similar to the iPad. Once I got them all arranged, they pretty much all fit on one screen, even with my weather widget and a couple of others I'll tell you about. As well as the Logitech keyboard, I also purchased a Bluetooth mouse, so I had pretty much a complete netbook.

Most of the apps I listed work just as well on the tablet, even better with the large high-resolution screen. With the mouse and keyboard, I'm just as fast and effective as I was with my HP Netbook before. It was immediately retired. My FNIS Paragon MLS online access works fine on the tablet, which is good because they don't have an app yet. So, for my real estate business:

  • I can access my MLS
  • With e-signatures, I can email documents to clients or even have them sign in person on my tablet
  • I can create documents and spreadsheets in MS formats
  • Of course, all email is great on the tablet, and attachments open fine
  • By passing photos from the phone to the tablet, I can use them in other apps and in documents as well
  • I even created a custom database for tracking business mileage for two vehicles and two different companies
  • I have a widget on the home screen that displays the messages and calls in my Google Voice account
  • Another app displays my todo items and tasks, so I'm on top of everything when the screen comes on

While I'm at home, I'm still addicted to my desktop with my giant 32" HDMI monitor, but when I walk out the door, it's an all-Android adventure.