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Rincon council approves tablets purchase

POSTED: February 20, 2014 6:10 p.m.

Rincon City Council members are about to get a lot more communication and information power in their hands.

Council members agreed to purchase 10 Nokia 2520s with cases and keyboards, giving each member of city council a tablet, with others for key city personnel.

“Hello, 21st century,” said Mayor Ken Lee.

Rincon Police Chief Phillip Scholl and Kathy Randolph, Verizon government account manager, discussed the tablets and the options they explored with council members. Scholl said they looked at iPads but needed platforms that could run Microsoft-based programs such as Word and Office.

A feature Scholl and Randolph both endorsed was the Nokia tablets are embedded with mobile broadband and are not dependent on WiFi access. The tablets have 4G capability.

“You don’t have to rely on WiFi, and that’s a security plus,” Randolph said. “It also acts as a mobile hotspot.”

“We wanted something that was Microsoft Office capable and mobile broadband embedded,” Scholl added.

Randolph said the Nokias, which will come with a Verizon service contract, act more like scaled-down laptops. The tablets also come with external keyboards.

“It has a remote desktop so you can connect to the server at city hall, so everyone can see the same thing at the same time,” Randolph said. “A lot of cities and counties are going to this.”

Council member Paul Wendelken asked if it would have been cheaper to pointed out the Surfaces do not have mobile broadband embedded, and a hot spot or WiFi access was needed in order for those units to communicate with the server at city hall or other devices.

“To have that 4G and not have to rely on WiFi access is important to you,” Randolph said.

Wendelken also asked if the Nokias had an instant messaging facet that would enable council members to communicate with each other.

The Nokia 2520s have 32 gigabytes of memory and can be expanded up to 64 gigabytes, Randolph said. Scholl said the Nokias are all-in-one but there is a limitation on what programs can be put on them, though Nokia does have its own applications that can be installed. But the Surfaces, he said, require two pieces of equipment in order to communicate with the city’s server.

The chief also said council members could download any document they wish to read onto their tablet, such as information in the council meeting packet, but that material also is on the city’s server.

They can view it any time on their Nokia, as long as the information remains on the server.

“We’ve been talking about the importance of this,” council member James Dasher said, “and I don’t know why we would prolong it.”

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