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Can I Use PlanSwift on my Tablet PC?

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Regardless of what tablet you choose, keep in mind PlanSwift’s System Requirements - specifically, you must install PlanSwift on Windows, it does not run on any other operating system.

Tablet Recommendations

Although PlanSwift Software cannot make specific recommendations or endorsements regarding personal computers, tablets, or other peripherals, we want to provide our customers with some guidance on the current crop of Tablet PCs available that should work well with our software. Please note, just because software should work on a specific tablet doesn't mean you can use "Touch" to work with our programs. See the article linked above for more information on touch screens.

First, you will need to determine what you will be doing with the Tablet.  The activities you will be performing and the size of the jobs you will be working on factor into your choice of Tablet PC.

Activities you perform may include:

  • Converting a large number of PDFs to TIFFs

  • Performing Takeoff and Estimating Projects

  • Viewing Plans

  • Sharing Projects via e-mail

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the average size of your projects and the complexity/size of the digital plans/Plan Sets you use?

  • Do you bid large jobs (greater than $10M), with numerous revisions?

  • Do you manage plans with numerous addenda (many plan sets)?

  • What type of plan files do you normally use (PDF, TIF, etc.)?  

  • What else will be running on this machine (Outlook, Accounting software, other services, etc.)

You also need to decide what form factor suits your business needs.  Many of the smaller, more affordable models are Slates.  Slates are similar to an iPad™, they often do not include a hardware keyboard (although one is usually available as an accessory).  The screen does not stand up on its own the way a laptop screen does so a separate stand may be required. At the other end of the spectrum are Convertible models, which are basically a laptop PC with a screen that swivels around to become a tablet.  These are generally more powerful but heavier and pricier.

PlanSwift does not recommend tablets with screen sizes smaller than 12" - they are simply too small to be useful, unless you can attach one or more monitors to them.

If a Tablet doesn't support using a Wacom pen-type stylus (also called an active digitizer screen/stylus), you must use a mouse for performing takeoff. Finger pointing/touch is simply not precise enough for performing takeoff although page navigation, panning, zooming should work fine using finger gestures. We recommend you contact the manufacturer of any machine in which you are interested before purchasing to make sure the hardware is an appropriate/working solution for your needs - better yet, see if you can use a demonstration model for a few days.

What to Look For

Microsoft maintains a list of great laptops, tablets, and convertibles (2 in 1) on their Web site: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/devices  - one of our personal favorites is the Surface Pro line of tablets, notebooks, and laptops.

Inclusion in Microsoft's list does not constitute a specific endorsement of any manufacturer or product. PlanSwift is simply stating that the product should meet the expectations for performance and suitability but does not provide support or specific advice for any hardware products. 

Be sure to check System Requirements before you buy anything.

When looking for a tablet, we recommend looking for a machine with the following specifications:

Entry Level

These might be suitable for plan viewing and viewing of smaller projects. Because of the hardware limitations, these would not be the best choice for replacing an estimator's desktop computer. The biggest benefits to these machines is lower cost, lower weight (matters if someone is carrying the PC around a job site), and extended battery life.

Entry level machines typically come with the following specifications:

  • Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 S-Mode - neither are acceptable operating systems. You will need to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to use our software.

  • Atom™ processors (single- or dual-core)

  • 2 GB of RAM

  • Hard drive - 32GB or larger (usually solid state - no moving parts)

  • Weight less than 2 pounds (or so)

  • One USB or connection port (if any)

  • Capacitive Touch Support (will not work well to perform takeoff), Optional Active Digitizer support (uses a hard-plastic nub pen, not just finger-touch) may be available

  • WiFi connectivity (Broadband (cellular) is a huge convenience but it is often not available on these lower-cost models)

  • Usually, costs less than $600.00 US

These are relatively 'lightweights' in the computing world and would not provide acceptable performance for most PlanSwift users.

Power User

These models would be suitable for performing takeoff and estimating on mid- to large-scale projects although, if the project is very large, working on a desktop with multiple monitors is significantly more efficient. These machines are considerably more powerful than the Entry Level models but are usually more expensive, heavier, and generally provide shorter battery run-times.  

  • Windows 10 PRO (Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 S-Mode are not acceptable operating systems

  • Intel i5 or i7 processor

  • 8GB RAM

  • Hard drive - 128GB solid state hard drive (the largest hard drive you can afford is recommended)

  • Optional Broadband connection (cellular)

  • Multiple USB and other input/output ports

  • Active Digitizer support (uses a hard-plastic nub pen, not just finger-touch)

  • Usually costs over $800.00, sometimes up to $2000.00 or more

These are serious machines and cost more than the lesser powered 'entry level' models, but they are worth every penny to a power user.  Most could easily replace your desktop computer, provided you can connect multiple monitors and a real keyboard and mouse to them.

Whichever tablet you purchase, be sure to ask the vendor if it supports the use of WACOM-style active digitizer pens (a hard, plastic nib, not an eraser-type tip) - finger pointing is convenient, but is not compatible with performing detailed takeoff work. We recommend that you ask the reseller if you can demo the product before purchase to ensure it meets your needs and that our software works to your expectations on the device.

 

Can I use a Microsoft Surface™ with PlanSwift's products?

Surface PRO Line (including all Surface Pro models running a full version of Windows Pro)4, etc.)

Go for it!  We love the Surface Pro and consider it a great option for field work or even as a desktop replacement. Be sure you spec out your Surface to exceed our System Requirements (linked above) and that you are using the latest PlanSwift version.

Surface GO 2

Yes, however, all Surface GO 2's come with Windows 10 running in "S-Mode" which prevents installing any applications that are not delivered through the Microsoft Store. You can perform a one-time one-way transition to Windows 10 Pro, see https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4020089/windows-10-in-s-mode-faq  for details.

As far as hardware goes, follow the guidelines above when choosing which configuration suits your needs. Do not try to save money by buying the cheapest tablet you can find - make sure it has enough horsepower and storage space for 3-4 years of projects.

The original Surface and any computer running Windows RT

The first Surface™ tablet released in October 2012 is known as the Surface RT.  Windows RT is not a supported operating system - it is designed to run apps available from the Microsoft Store and does not support running applications installed from an external source (nor is its hardware sufficient for running PlanSwift's products).  PlanSwift's products will not work on any device that runs Windows RT.

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