Below is a list of things to consider when purchasing a device to use with the HG Companion. The list specifically talks about using them for home inspections, so if you plan to use them for other things please keep your other needs in mind also. One major advantage of the HG Companion is the ability to include pictures from the device right at the inspection item at the time of taking the photo. While most devices have a camera, many inspectors will still want to use their regular camera for taking pictures in dark areas or for using the lens for wide / zoom shots.
Android Operating System (OS)
HomeGauge Companion runs on Android 4.4 or greater. Recommendation: for a new device we recommend getting one that has Android 7.0 or greater, but so long as it is 4.4 or later it will work with the Companion.
Apple iPhone/iPad iOS Version
iOS 6 or better is required, but we recommend iOS 8 (or later)
Of course the lighter the better for carrying around all day but it often comes at the cost of screen size and battery life. Recommendation: Up to the inspector's personal opinion.
Screen size / brightness
Can you read the screen at that size? Can you read the screen in daylight? Phones are smaller and will fit less data on screen, requiring more scrolling around than a tablet. The small size cam be more convenient however. Recommendation: If getting a smart phone, make sure the size of the screen works for you. For either device make sure it is readable in the shade outside. We recommend devices with Super AMOLED displays such as the Samsung Galaxy line of devices, they are typically brighter than the competition.
Since you will be carrying it around all day you will want it to work all day, so be sure to consider the battery life. Phones stay on and the batteries are smaller, so this is a consideration. Recommendation: Get one with many hours of battery life. This is usually listed in the specifications when shopping for devices. Also, a replaceable battery is helpful. You can also use a third party "power pack" which can re-charge your battery.
Camera / Flash
Most mobile devices have a camera now, however some devices do not have a flash, especially many tablets. Recommendation: Make sure it has rear facing camera with a flash.
Using the HG Companion you will need to connect to the Internet to easily transfer your reports back to the desktop to complete the report. Since you will also be taking pictures and video with the device, the reports might be fairly large, so a good Internet connection will be important. Most will connect to the Internet over WiFi and 3g/4g mobile network. Recommendation: Make sure you have at least a WiFi connection for fast uploads and consider a contract for 4G LTE if you have good service coverage in your area. Reports can use a lot of data, so keep that in mind when using your cellular data service to transfer data. There's an option to transfer by WiFi only in the HG Companion if you are worried about cellular data fees.
CPU Speed / Disk Storage / RAM
All of the manufactures are competitive in this area, with the exception of some of the cheaper prepaid phones. RAM is the memory used to run your software. The more RAM the more software you can run at the same time and the faster your phone will perform. Storage is where the software will store the data. More storage allows you to have more on your computer, but does not help performance. In general, any new phone or tablet will have plenty of speed, storage and RAM for completing and holding many days worth of reports. Most tablets will have 1GB+ of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB or more of storage space. Recommendation: 512MB of RAM and 8GB of storage will work fine for HG Companion, but the more the better. When looking at devices, choose one that has a high amount of internal storage, as this is where HomeGauge stores its files rather than on SD.
HG companion supports text-to-speech, and all smart phones have a microphone. If you choose a tablet, make it has a microphone if you'd like to use this feature.
Tablets versus Phone
Which one you use is going to come down to personal preference. The many items listed above like size and weight have different considerations depending on if you are using a tablet or phone. Some additional considerations for which to use are listed below.
- Being distracted by answering the phone during an inspection (we recommend using a dedicated device for the Companion to keep your calls from interrupting your work)
- Needing to keep track of multiple devices (phone, tablet, camera) or one device (such as a smart phone) that covers all bases.