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That would be great for someone who does a lot of exterior (hail) type claims.
Personally the small screen and keyboard would be a deal breaker for me.
I have a super heavy-duty tripod that I adapted a small piece of plywood to bolt onto the top. I can adjust the height for comfortable typing. The legs fold, doesn't take much room in my van. I don't bring it in if the house is furnished, only 1 or 2 rooms damaged, has a kitchen counter that isn't covered with soot.
If the house has a lot of damage and I am going room-to-room then I bring in my tripod. I also have a 3' stepladder that "works" for this but the keyboard height is off a bit. I strap the laptop to the stand using the same Velcro strip that came with my floor mounted laptop stand in my van (the big screen is great for Delorme GPS, and easy to enter data with full keyboard).
Tom could do that with his 17" screen notebook. I am using an older 2005 model, Dell 600m. I buy extra's on Ebay for about $250 and have 3 of the same model. I buy extra hard drives, "clone" the drive once a week + daily backups to external USB drive that gets put into use as the main drive the following week.
Anyway, I take one of those laptops to the site and just do the estimate (or at least enter the room dimensions) as they are being measured. That system has worked well for me doing Flood, and daily claims. If I was only doing roofing and wanted to drag something up the ladder with me... I suppose the little all-weather computer would be nice. Personally I would just do the diagram and measurements on paper, and enter the info when I got down to solid ground.
I have never used a "tablet" type computer - but kind of don't feel the need for one. When I take measurements, I am going to set down whatever I am holding in my hand, including my clipboard (thank you CustomToolBelt.com). So I would need a place to set the tablet PC down anyway.
I remember working Katrina flood claims in Slidell and didn't have my tripod with me, and was at a house that had been gutted to the studs. There was absolutely no place to set down the State Farm issued laptop. One of the workers had left a 3' step ladder, and that model was just the right height for typing. I carried it room-to-room and it confirmed for me personally that this was my style. But others may have their own preference.
I am back doing daily claims, and if I am not late on appointments I prefer to enter most of the repair items right into my laptop. For most of the obvious repair steps there is nothing to write on paper, but I may do that depending on the room and what happened to it. There is another thread where David brought up a good point on always doing a cabinet diagram - and on Pg 4 we talked about that. I agree with him and always do a "paper" scope note for uppers and lowers even if I note them to scale as "reference areas" in Xm8.
I really try hard to get all the rooms dimensioned in my laptop - even if I don't have time to enter all the repair steps. I find that it takes me twice as long to suffer with Xm8 sketch if I do it off-site based on my handwritten diagram and dimensions.
If I enter the room dimensons to the computer on-site, I still often still do a quick diagram and jot down dimensions on my way to punching it into the computer. But I don't write the "R&R Base" "3 sheeets drywall" "Pnt Walls". Because I am standing there looking at it and entering those items on the laptop on-site.
Some carriers do not care about customer satisfaction and take forever to pay claims. My role model is the local staff adjusters in my area that settle the claim on site (table-top adjusting) and write the check then and there. You have to have the estimate completed to do that. I don't have authority to write checks at this time, but try to get my field work done as though I did.
This tripod came from an old telescope, and has unusually broad footprint and is very sturdy.
I use a velcro strap to make sure the computer doesn't get knocked off.
I have been using this arrangement for about 5 years, gone through several laptops but the stand hasn't changed.
I don't bring this out until I am finished looking around with the Insured, taken all the photos I think I need, clarified the Origin of Loss (if needed) and if it's a water loss I will have figured out if it is still wet and use a moisture meter to see if water is trapped under cabinets or flooring, etc. When the focus shifts to measuring the damaged areas and doing the estimate, that's when I go to the van and grab the laptop that was being used as GPS, dump some gear out of my tool belt, and bring this in (with Disto, tape measure, etc.)
Bob that is a nice work stand. I agree with you on the small format computer has yet to catch on for adjusters over the years. For those over 35 years old screen size and keyboard/input device size does make a huge different. Like Simsol and Xactimate we have demo on the pen/tablet computers for years but when the push comes adjusters always seem to fall back on that which they find functional. As web based solutions continue to gain in function and connectivity improves the hardware may become smaller.
If as Ray Hall, Dave Hood and others predict the adjuster tech becomes the eyes and hears in the field the web based solutions (especially for daily claims) may gain more attention. After all the younger generation that will be handling claims soon will have had years of experience working off of a 2" screen and being connected 24/7 unlike those of us 45-75 years old today.
Yep. Here's my desk, you can't see my external keyboard under the desk, but it just plugs into the laptop's USB + full size mouse.
Any laptop will run an external monitor simultaneously with the existing display - so you have 2 monitors running at once. Just drag the windows across to the other monitor. Click on that link if you want to try it, there is a simple setting to tell the laptop to send the display signal to only the external monior, or only the laptop display (default) or both, as you see here.
I got the 22" Acer at the left for $189 and it's one of the best things I ever did. I can do an estimate on the big screen, and still see Email the moment it arrives on the right. Or review loss photos.
Here's my 3 Dells, all are 15" screen and because they are the same model, you can clone hard drives and just plug the drive into the econo $250 Ebay used laptop and it boots without complaining of a different motherboard or video card, etc. The spare hard drives are about $80 & USB cables on the right $19 at Tiger Direct.
Very nice set up Bob.
Steve may have more to say - but let me point out that under the photo of my 22" monitor you can see a USB hub with 7 ports. External keyboard and mouse could plug into that - but my laptop has 2 USB's so they go on the other USB port on a little 4-way connector.
I plug keyboards into a different USB channel because just one old USB device will slow down everything connected to the USB hub so that it won't transfer at the much faster USB 2.0 speeds. I save the high-speed USB channel for flash-drives, external hard drive, cameras, etc.
Typically a port replicator is more like a "docking station" explained here, but there are some alternatives. I understand the term to mean that the video to external monitor is also part of the connection so you don't have to undo so many connections when you run off with the laptop. for me - it isn't that big of a deal to yank the video cable and a couple USB's since the printers etc. now run on USB it makes all of this more simple. My DSL router is also a wireless transmitter, so the laptop gets that without plugging anything in. And I rarely remove the connections, I just "clone" the hard drive and pop it into one of my spare laptops of the same model with a weekly update. I have 2 spares ready to hit the road for an inspection.
Posted By Steve Beaumont
...I have a external monitor the size of yours, but right now only use it and the lapper in a port replicator closed up.
I have to admit that when I ditched the "tower" and went to only using a laptop for my office & roadwork, I did the same thing and just used the laptop to power a big external monitor.
The "function" key on the laptop allows you to toggle back and forth between using the Laptop display, or external monitor. It wasn't until fairly recently that I realized you can have both displays running, and how easy it is to do that (this article tells you how).
I am very spoiled now, and have just a slice of my Email window visible on the small laptop display (so I can see if anything "new" landed in the InBox) while most of that display shows my calendar and tasks for the day, drop-dead targets.
The big monitor on the left is free for getting real work done, and these wide-screens pretty much allow for 2 windows open. Ctrl-Click 2 things in your task bar -> tile vertically and it uses the real estate nicely.
Here's the other incarnation of the "Scoping Computer"
I got the first one new in 2005 when it was discounted before being discontinued. Then the cheap extras of the same model from Ebay I don't mind subjecting to vibrations of the road. There is a lot of peace of mind having spare parts, and knowing you can swap a hard drive without issues of not recognizing the PCI bus or chipset
Bob, you need to vacuum your carpet. LOL. Thats a nice set up. I have an old PC sitting on the doghouse of our Hemi with an 8" monitor affixed to the dash. I hated drilling holes in the dash for the mount, but it just stays there, so what the heck. I have a radio shack inverter, 400 watts and it powers the pc and several other items. We run the Delorme and Integraclaim on the PC. Nice set up, I think. Later I am going to get a 10" monitor to see things better.
Posted By Tom Toll
...Bob, you need to vacuum your carpet. LOL.
Shoulda seen it before I cleared the "debris" for the photo shoot...
Posted By Tom Toll
...with an 8" monitor affixed to the dash. ...I think. Later I am going to get a 10" monitor to see things better.
The 15" display on my econo-laptop is adjusted to just below the line of sight out the window, and is really easy to see. I am also running Delorme.
With a motor home - doghouse you may have fewer options on where to position a computer with it's own screen rather than sending the signal to an external screen. At first I was bummed with blocked access to the radio and AC, now I just push the screen down a bit and push it back up. You can see the lock at the side of the laptop, and if I get out of the van for more than a couple minutes I toss a sheet of newspaper on the closed laptop and you really couldn't tell what was under it.