Jeff Rainey of Home Equity Builders could hear water dripping onto the main floor of a house where a plumbing subcontractor had been installing a shower liner. The plumber had not yet arrived. Rainey took digital photos of the water coming down the wall and onto a hardwood floor. He forwarded the pictures to his office and the plumber with a note saying he needed someone there right away. He did all this on a tablet PC. The plumber was on site within 30 minutes. That's the kind of situation that has sold Rainey on ConstructConnect, a new tablet PC product by Field2Base.

The tablet, which has a camera attached, is preloaded with a wireless data card and the ConstructConnect software. The unit is insured and comes in a construction bump case.

“I've set it up as a mobile office,” says Rainey, who has loaded Microsoft office, project software, and ACT!, which is integrated into his server. All Rainey's e-mail, appointments, and schedules are received on the tablet, and he can upload or download information. He has scanned all his client meeting forms to make a simple “please do” form. (As of this month, the system will enhance forms with calculation features.) Rainey also can annotate drawings, embed instructions in forms, sign documents directly onscreen, and immediately distribute information. He particularly likes the journal feature. The software is easy to use, and F2B offers technical support.

As a member of Remodeler's Information Technology Group, based in northern Virginia, Rainey was given the tablet to try for five months; he has since invested in three. The benefits, he says, outweigh the cost, which can be substantial: yearly subscriptions at $600, $500, or $400 per month per tablet for one, two, or three years respectively. There's a 30-day free trial period.

Rainey says he tracks unbillable hours and saves money, for example, by not having to visit a jobsite, write a punch list, take it back to the office, and hand it to an office manager to type and distribute. “It all happens seamlessly,” he says.

For a demonstration, go to