Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Appraiser Reviews Surface Pro 4 and Motion R12
April 8th, 2016 12:18 AM

Appraiser Reviews Surface Pro 4 and Motion R12
In July of 2015, I wrote about
my new Motion R12 (R12) tablet and how I had agonized between that purchase or waiting for the yet to be released Surface Pro 4 (Pro 4).  In my view, these two are the best options for appraisers looking for one computer to be used in both the field and office with no need to sync between applications or to purchase, learn, or maintain multiple devices.  For those who like to use an Apple or Android in the field, do what works for you.  I am just happy to see any appraiser who is mobile

Fast forwarding to the present, the Pro 4 has been on the market for about six months and I purchased one for a new employee to use.  After a couple weeks of testing, I now have a better idea of the pros and cons between the R12 and the Pro 4.  Here is some background on the models that I tested.  The R12 purchased has a Core i7 1.7/2.9 gigahertz processor, 256 GB hard drive, and 8 GB of RAM.  The Pro 4 purchased has a Core i5 2.4/3.0 gigahertz processor, 256 GB hard drive, and 8 GB of RAM.  After field testing, I note the following key differences.

  1. Price – The R12 costs more than twice as much as the Pro 4. Accessories for the Motion are also more than twice the cost when compared to Pro 4 accessories. The Surface wins in this category. Click on the links above to see exact pricing.
  2. Speed – The R12 uses 5th Generation Intel chips and the Pro 4 uses a 6th Generation Intel chips. That makes the i5 on the Pro 4 faster than the R12 with an i7. With a stopwatch, I was able to roughly estimate that the newer i5 processor in the Pro 4 is almost twice as fast opening appraisal software than the older generation i7 on the R12.
  3. Ruggedness – The R12 received a drop test rating and a water, dust, and splash-resistant rating. The Pro 4 feels lighter, more fragile, and the screen glass feels flexible and fragile compared to the Motion. The Motion clearly wins in the rugged category, but that is partly because it comes with a factory installed case. A Pro 4 can be replaced once if dropped and still not cost as much as the R12. In rainy weather, I find it easier to hold an umbrella (Disto goes in umbrella hand, computer on shoulder strap) than deal with a wet screen, so water resistance is no longer much of an issue for me.
  4. Case – The R12 wins in this category because it is rugged, does not need a case, and it has storage for the pen built-in. Truly rugged cases for the Pro 4 are difficult to find because of the computer’s many vents and ports. Additionally, many cases cover up the carefully engineered kickstand, type cover, and magnetic pen holder. I tested two cases for the Pro 4 and finally settled on the Incipio Capture Case.
    1. The Incipio Capture Case has two layers of protection, a high lip on front to protect screen, and a built-in shoulder strap. The downside of this case is that the pen tether and holder are not very useful, there is less ventilation for hot weather, the factory type cover cannot be used, and the factory kickstand is covered up. One irritation of this case is that the shoulder strap seems to be mounted on the wrong side of the tablet for my preference of tipping outward and upward to view the screen. This problem is fixed by locking the screen in flipped rotation when using the should strap.
    2. The Kensington Black Belt Case has the ability to retain the function of the factory kickstand and type cover, has large ventilation holes, a high lip on front to protect screen, and a good pen holder. The downside of this case is no shoulder strap and less protection. I tried installing a shoulder strap on this case, but after mounting it I felt that the tugging of the strap could lead to the tablet popping out of the case (that would not be good).
  5. Battery Life – The R12 has a 43WHr battery and the Pro 4 has a 42WHr battery. With almost the same capacity both tablets can run for about two to three hours with the i7, and four or five hours with the i5 processor. Battery life can be significantly extended by disabling turbo boost and reducing screen brightness. The main difference is that the R12 can be hot swapped to a new battery while the Pro 4 has a built in (cell phone like) battery that cannot be swapped. The R12 wins in this category. However, if an appraiser always charges when traveling, the battery life should not be an issue unless the tablet battery is more than a couple of years old. Both tablets seem to charge at a similarly fast pace and easily top off while driving by comparable sales.
  6. Pen – The R12 has a very simple and rugged pen that does not require Bluetooth or a battery like the Pro 4. Also, the Motion’s pen is small and stores away easily. However, the Pro 4 pen has a more natural feel with rubber tip that seems more responsive. The Pro 4 wins in this category, but be sure to carry an extra pen battery in the field.
  7. Screen – Both screens are similar in size, but vary slightly in aspect ratio. The Pro 4 has a much higher resolution of 2736 x 1824 than the R12’s 1920 x 1080. The R12 has a less glossy screen that is intended for use outdoor with less glare, but I have no trouble viewing the Pro 4 outdoors. The Pro 4 wins in this category.
  8. Weight – The R12 weighs 3.0 pounds and the Pro 4 weighs 1.73 pounds. With the most rugged case tested, the Pro 4 weighs 2.23 pounds. The Pro 4 wins in this category.
  9. Docking – The R12 has easy desktop docking and vehicle docking (click the links to see videos of how they work for me) that does not require the attachment of any wires for power, monitors, or ports. The Surface Dock needs only the attachment of one wire for power, monitors, and ports, but a kickstand or automobile holder are still necessary, making moving the Pro 4 from the car to the office not as easy. The R12 wins in this category.

After testing both computers, I am sad to say that the Pro 4 clearly beats my R12 for use by real estate appraisers.  If I was purchasing today, I would buy a Pro 4 but I would miss the R12 docking options, ruggedness, pen storage, and swappable battery.  With the Pro 4, I would gain a faster, lighter, and more responsive computer with a price low enough to replace twice as often.

The following is a silly drug commercial parody video that we released this week to promote our home measurement services, but it also shows clips of me using my R12 in the field.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen, SRA, IFA, AGA

Wow, that is a great review Gary! Super detailed and answers a lot of questions. I know how much you like the R12 and rightfully so, however the Pro 4 seems like the top choice for appraisers now. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this review. I greatly appreciate it!

Posted by Tim Packard on April 8th, 2016 12:44 AM
Could you drop test the Pro 4 from six feet and report the results? Jim

Posted by Jim Anderson on April 8th, 2016 3:42 AM
Thanks for the great info Gary! I'm using an iphone 6s plus right now and love it, but your review of the Surface Pro has me thinking. It would be nice to see the entire version of the software in the field, instead of a stripped down version.

Posted by Paul Rowe on April 8th, 2016 7:01 AM
Nice job, Gary. Very thorough for anyone wanting to make the leap.

Posted by Ryan Lundquist on April 8th, 2016 7:58 AM
You are the man. I always enjoy your blogs and your eagerness to help out your fellow appraiser. Thank You

Posted by RICK MILLER on April 8th, 2016 7:58 AM
Gary, What a great and in depth review of the Surface Pro 4 vs the Motion R12. Your knowledge and use of technology keeps A Quality Appraisal on the forefront of the industry and secures your position as Portland's best appraisers. Well done!

Posted by Casey Lyon on April 8th, 2016 8:04 AM
Thank you everyone for your comments. I really appreciate it. Jim, I have not drop tested it, but with a rugged case on it, I think it would do pretty good. Here is a drop of the Surface Pro 3 with no case https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WamGptZ1zR4. Paul, if you change to a Windows device, just remember that the software companies do not build an app for it, but Total Sketch and Apex both have a great pen mode for drawing in windows.

Posted by on April 8th, 2016 9:27 AM
Thanks for the product review. Your forward thinking approach to our industry is truly inspirational.

Posted by Patrick Bullard on April 8th, 2016 11:18 AM
I like the idea of having one device for the field and office. The Total app for the tablets has the ability to take pictures, while the desktop app does not. If alamode can have this as an option for the desktop that would save a lot more time.

Posted by John Tsiaousis on April 9th, 2016 12:26 AM
John, I'm glad that you mentioned that. I too have that wish and I have voiced it many times to a la mode. A la mode has pushed away from Windows tablets in recent years because of the popularity of iPads and Android devices. However, I think that a la mode is considering making some improvements to accommodate Surface Pro and other Windows tablet users. This is especially true if more appraisers switch to Windows tablets and other companies like Bradford have already made improvements to their software for Surface Pro users.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on April 9th, 2016 12:36 AM
Great review Gary. I was also considering the surface pro when deciding to go mobile, but in the end decided to go with a small tablet for data collection and then sync. to my laptop when I get back in the office. In the future if I decide to go with one device for field and office work I'll definitely refer back to your review. Thanks, and I enjoyed the video!

Posted by Tom Horn on April 9th, 2016 6:48 AM
Thank you for following Tom. I know that the tablet you're using now is working well for you, so I would never recommend changing. The Surface or Motion tablets are only for appraisers who prefer to have just one device that moves from the field to office and back. The mobile apps from a la mode work quite well and offer more mobile functionality than the Windows devices at this time. I'm just hoping that a la mode is listening and will also cater to Windows device users.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on April 10th, 2016 11:39 PM
Thanks for a great review of these two options for a one computer use for the appraisal business. Your posts are much appreciated.

Posted by Bruce Baier, MAI on April 11th, 2016 5:21 PM
Thank you so much for following Bruce and for taking the time to comment. I hope to see you with a tablet computer out in the field appraising.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on April 12th, 2016 1:22 AM
Gary,Wow! That was pretty thorough! I also appreciate how you sum up every thing at the end!

Posted by Conrad on April 13th, 2016 9:41 PM
You're welcome Conrad. I was hoping that if there are appraisers or other field workers considering a Surface Pro 4 or a Motion R12, this article would be helpful. Thank you for following and recognizing the hard work.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on April 13th, 2016 11:42 PM
Excellent review Gary! Looks like I'm going with the Pro 4. Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough review.

Posted by Brian on November 27th, 2016 10:22 AM
I'm glad you liked the review and hope you like the Surface Pro 4 Brian. Thank you for following. Let me know if you need anything else.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on November 27th, 2016 11:29 PM
Gary. How do you handle pictures using this setup? I have been trying to go mobile for some time and am having difficulty ditching the clipboard.

Posted by Brian on December 13th, 2016 7:58 PM
Hi Brian, Thank you for the question. For pictures, I just use my iPhone and Dropbox automatically places the photos on my computer. Then my assistant places the photos in the report. It would be nice if a la mode updated their software to allow photos to go strait into the report without using a mobile app, but they have focused their attention on the area where there are the most customers (Apple and Android devices). Call me anytime you need help.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 14th, 2016 1:40 AM


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