When ANATUM first started collecting field data with a “smart” device, we were using an iPhone 4 to collect bird data with a nice app called birdcountr. The app is no longer available, but it was one of the early bird apps that allowed the user to record bird sightings. It was simple compared to the current bird apps out there, yet birdcountr’s simplicity was also its beauty. While the interface for recording bird records was simple, the added benefit of the app was that it recorded a GPS location for each bird record based on the user’s position. Once the user was finished with their birding for the day, they could export a KML file with the ability to click on each mapped point and see the bird record for that point.
Fast forward to 2013, and we were trying to decide on whether to buy an expensive handheld GPS for field surveys or go the route of mobile GIS app paired with a tablet. That decision only took about 39 seconds: a tablet. Then we looked at the various types of tablets. While the software options were important, so were the tablet’s construction, availability of waterproof tough cases, carrying strap systems, and external GPS receivers. For us, it quickly became apparent that the iPad’s one-piece metal body construction was better for field work compared to Android and Windows tablet devices that were built more like a laptop; plastic body with lots of parts and openings in the body. Plus, there just aren’t many waterproof tough cases for those devices.
While that is our opinion of the construction of the iPad compared to the Surface and other tablets, admittedly, it isn’t very fact-heavy. So instead of reinventing the review, we wanted to provide a link to a well-written comparison of the iPad Air vs Surface Pro 3 by Linked Plans. They have a nice comparison that breaks down cost, weight/portability, screen size and resolution, responsiveness, glare, file download/syncing, and battery life. You can find their review HERE.
ANATUM’s only comment about Linked Plans review is related to device glare. Apple’s products have noticeable glare outdoors. However, we think they have similar glare to many of the handheld GPS units we have used over the years. To reduce this glare problem with our iPad’s, ANATUM installs an anti-glare and anti-fingerprint screen protector on all our devices. It definitely decreases glare and we are always surprised at how little fingerprints (oils from our hands) show up on the screen protector.
Please check out Linked Plans comparison of the iPad Air and Surface Pro 3.
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