Many predict the tablet will replace desktops and laptops. And the recent release of the Windows 8 tablet suggests this trend will continue. Tablets can work well in client meetings to show videos, charts and graphs, and make notes. Both the Apple iPad and the BlackBerry PlayBook have wireless remote options that are easy to set up.
Setting up your office or boardroom
First, you need either a television or an HDMI-capable projector. Most offices have them, but if not, you can buy a fully workable 40-inch TV for less than $500.
To use your iPad as a presentation tool, you must purchase an Apple TV device. This $100 add-on will work as a mirror for the iPad. This means anything on the iPad screen is broadcast on the television. You could just use the iPad screen, but it's small and likely at least one person around the table will have to look at it upside down.
You need to buy a $5 connector cable to link the PlayBook ($150) to the TV. Then, use your BlackBerry phone as a remote, setting up the BlackBerry Bridge app so you can scroll through presentations, click on websites, play videos, and zoom in on spreadsheets.
Load all client documents on the tablet. The easiest way to do this is to set up a Dropbox account (see “What is Dropbox?”, right) upload documents into a client-specific folder, and then access the files on the tablet. The iPad will run the Dropbox app natively, but you'll need the BlueBox app to run Dropbox on the PlayBook.Another option is to plug the tablet into the computer and upload files, or email them to yourself. If you're using the iPad, you can also use the built-in iCloud sync software, but you'll have to set it up on your computer as well.
Typically, you'll load client statements, PDFs, Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations onto the tablet, as well as links to various websites. I suggest setting up a separate folder on each device that holds these items. Here are the apps needed to run these various options:
Use the GoodReader app for the iPad, and qPDF for the PlayBook. These let you open PDFs (which most devices do automatically), and annotate, draw lines, highlight, and add notes. Most importantly, it lets you save any marked-up documents, and print or email them to clients.
The PlayBook has Excel and Word apps built into the software and a superior on-screen keyboard. The iPad, meanwhile, offers dozens of Office-compatible apps; some are free, and others can be up to $30.
I use Documents-To-Go ($10). If you find the iPad's touch keyboard annoying, use the built-in dictation function. That said, either system will work fine if you're not taking extensive notes.
You may want to draw graphs and charts during a meeting. Both tablets provide a drawing surface that can be saved and printed or emailed to the client. For the iPad, I'd recommend Penultimate or Paper53; for the PlayBook either DrawingBoard or PaintBook. I also suggest picking up a stylus ($15) to make these drawings and notes easier.
Websites and videos:
Both tablets have built-in YouTube apps to watch fund manager and market-analysis videos. However, the iPad can't play Flash video files. Save links to those website videos on the tablet desktop ahead of the meeting. You can use the Apple TV remote or a BlackBerry to pause the video if you want to discuss the contents.
Running the presentation during the meeting
Have all the material you need already opened in their various apps on each tablet and then just scroll sideways as needed. It's best to practise ahead of time.
Originally published in Advisor's Edge
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