Friday, April 3, 2015

The Best Hardware for your Timber Cruise with Plot Hound

The Best Hardware for your Timber Cruise with Plot Hound

Plot Hound is a great app for collecting cruise data in the field. It’s free to collect data, so all you need is a standard consumer phone or tablet and you’ll be all set up. Today will focus on the tablet side. But which tablet should you buy for you and your team?

The first question to ask is whether you prefer Google Android or Apple iOS. Android devices are typically a little cheaper, but there’s also some really cheap Android hardware out there that will affect how Plot Hound runs and could affect the accuracy of the cruise. We really recommend sticking to our recommendations, if you go the Android route.

Because all iOS devices are made by Apple, we can guarantee that Plot Hound will look and work great on your iPads. And if all your team currently uses iPhones, then iOS would be a great way to go.

ipad mini.jpgiOS Recommended Hardware

Since Apple owns this space completely, there’s not a big surprise we’re recommending iPads here. But which versions?
We recommend two Apple tablets in this space whose main difference is size and portability. If you prefer a larger screen, we recommend the Apple iPad Air 2. With its 9.7 inch screen, you’ll have a lot of real estate to enter your cruise data and check your maps. You can buy it straight from Amazon for around $450 with Wi-Fi connectivity.

But if portability and price are more important than screen size, we recommend the Apple iPad Mini 3. Its 7.9 inch screen is still big enough to easily collect data for a cruise. You can buy it straight from Amazon for around $370 with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Android Recommended Hardware

nexus9.jpgOur favorite tablets here are the Nexus line straight from Google. If you buy a Nexus tablet, you know that you’ll always be able to update the tablet to the latest supported version of Android, and that means that Plot Hound will always be the best it can be on your device.

The current Nexus tablet is the Nexus 9. Its 8.9 inch screen makes for easy data entry while still being very portable. You can buy the Nexus 9 straight from Amazon for about $375.

If you’re on the price conscious side, we also recommend the older Nexus 7. An investment in this hardware won’t last you as long as the Nexus 9, but if you need a cheap option now, the Nexus 7 is a great way to go. It’s not in production anymore, but it will still do a great job running Plot Hound. You buy the Nexus 7 straight from Amazon for between $150 and $250, depending on the exact technology specs.

cedar.jpgAnd finally, if you’re willing to spend a bit more on your hardware, and you want a good rugged tablet, we recommend the Cedar CT7 rugged tablet. You can buy it straight from Amazon for $900. If you often find yourself dropping your cruising gear in a swamp, this could be a great tablet for you.

The question of whether “rugged” hardware is worth the additional cost and weight is really a matter of personal economics. Standard commercial products are often sturdy enough, and cheap to replace in the off chance that something goes wrong. However, if the cost to have increased assurance that you wont have a day ending event(e.g. tablet in water, or dropped on a rock) is $500 extra dollars - if you cruise more than 30% of your working days, and the loss of a day (or day’s data) is the loss of $500 worth of work - then “rugged” may be well worth it. We’ll explore this question more thoroughly in a forthcoming article!

Bonus Recommendations

There are a couple other products that make for better cruising with Plot Hound. Here are some other quick hit recommendations.

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