Mobile Devices


Introduction to Mobile Devices

Mobile devices include phones, tablets, e-readers, PDAs, and a host of other devices.  Over time these distinct categories have blurred as the features and capabilities of these different devices have started to overlap.  Generally, a mobile device can be defined as a handheld device weighing less than 2 pounds which allows the user to access information and data from wherever they are.

For the purposes of using a Mobile Device in a courtroom setting, this page will focus primarily on tablets as they offer the optimal combination of mobility, computing power, and ease of use. A tablet is generally larger than a cell phone and has a flat touch screen.  Typically it is operated by touching the screen, rather than using a physical keyboard, though peripheral keyboards are available.  In 2010 Apple released the iPad which became the first tablet to achieve worldwide success.  Today tablets are competitively priced with v­­ersions also produced by Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony, HP, Microsoft, and many other manufacturers.  Battery life is three to 12 hours, depending on usage.

Hardware vs. Software

Hardware refers to the actual physical device while software refers to the operating system and applications installed onto the device.  There are a large number of hardware manufacturers creating competing devices including Apple, Samsung, HTC, Asus, Motorola, Sony, HP, Microsoft, and many others.  There are 3 major operating systems for tablets including Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Windows 8 or RT (a modified version of Windows 8).  Apple's iOS is tightly controlled by Apple and is essentially identical across all of their devices.  Google has chosen to license Android to a host of different companies and given them permision to modify the software into many distinct and different forms.  Users can also modify the software themselves with relative ease.  Windows 8 and Windows RT relatively new, but generally windows products have allowed modification as well.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tablets

       Advantages:       Disadvantages:
  • Ideal for use in environments not conducive to keyboard and mouse, such as standing, travelling, lying in bed
  • Lighter weight
  • Touchscreen interface preferred by many
  • Digital painting or image editing are more precise and intuitive than painting w or sketching with a mouse
  • Longer battery life
  • Virtual keyboard easily used in the dark (on an airplane, for example)
  • Less computing power
  • Slower input speed than typing on keyboard
  • Less user friendly ergonomics (no wrist rest, for example)
  • Higher risk of dropping and damaging
  • Not compatible with Flash (many interactive websites will not work)
  • Limited software for certain content creation and editing

Key Terminology

2G, 3G, 4G – refers to progressively newer and faster mobile wireless internet connection services used by cell phone networks.

Accelerometer – a device that detects the physical movement of the tablet in regards to both acceleration and orientation relative to the horizontal plane.  Used in many map/navigation apps and many games.

Android – operating system for tables developed by Google.

App – short for Application.  This is any program installed on your device that serves a distinct and specific purpose (Weather, Maps, etc)

App store – online store for software purchasing, installation, and updates. Usually only takes one click!

Blue tooth – allows for wireless connection of peripherals, such as keyboard or printer

Multitouch – The ability to use multiple fingers at once to perform complex interactions beyond point and click (zoom, rotate, highlight, etc.)

Tethering – allows a tablet to access the internet wirelessly by using a cell phone to change a cell phone connection into a Wi-Fi connection for use by devices that do not have 2G/3G/4G capabilities.

Wi-Fi –Refers to wireless networks connectivity using wireless router technology to communicate with traditional broadband networks.

Uses For Municipal Courts and Municipal Court Personnel

  • Access and edit court documents
  • Videoconferencing for magistrates and staff meetings
  • Track legislation when Texas Legislature is in session
  • Download TMCEC Judges Book and read it when time permits
  • Download TMCEC Bench Book and use on the bench
  • Download court cost chart and juvenile chart for quick reference
  • Watch TMCEC webinars
  • Watch TMCEC You Tube videos
  • Participate in the TMCEC listservs
  • Follow TMCEC Twitter and Facebook
  • Note taking at TMCEC seminars, departmental meetings, and council meetings
  • Download TMCEC course materials and take notes while at a seminar
  • Use GPS and mapping function when serving warrants

Recommended and Suggested Apps

Adobe Reader - Allows you to view and annotate PDF files.

Dropbox - Allows you to upload, share, and access documents and files between devices easily.

Find iPhone / Lookout - Allows you to locate, lock, and wipe data from lost or stolen devices.

Intuit Gopayment / Square / Paypal Here - Allows you to process credit card payments directly on your mobile device.

Skype / Google Voice - Allows you to make phone calls, videoconference, and chat for free.

Adobe Echosign / Docusign - Allows you to accept e-signatures.