At the end of this month I shall punish myself no more when I cease self castigation by surrendering my BlackBerry (Crackberry) to the hell in which it rightfully belongs. I am looking for a new device which will serve me well while traveling, particularly abroad (Europe). The two things I will require most in my new device(s) is to have a fast browser independent of wi-fi, with a readable screen and the ability to video chat (very important). My carrier is AT&T, which will not change. Wondering if I need a phone and a wi-fi only tablet with tethering, or just a great phone, or just a great tablet and a not so stellar phone. Driod vs. iPhone, 3G/4G tablet vs. wi-fi tablet. Looking for the cheapest way to get the job done, of course. Least expensive outlay and least expensive monthly service. There are no professional business requirements. Strictly leisure travel. Also, how to transfer all of my travel notes to my device (right now all my notes are in Microsoft OneNote) or the Cloud?
Which technology trail are you headed down? Are you happy with your device(s) and configuration? How do you find your free Marriott wi-fi connections to be? Why/why not?
Good day. I read your post with interest. I travel a lot and I once had a blackberry.....but now I don't.
The first thing you'll need to think about if you surrender your blackberry is the fact that your blackberry, despite the many annoyances, is amongst the most efficient for using data over the cell network - of particular concern if roaming in Europe.
You also want to make sure you use an email service which allows you to send and receive email from any network. Typically, this is not your home ISP account. Gmail works well for this.
My advice is to get an unlocked phone and use local SIM cards. If people use email to communicate with you rather than voice, the actual phone number becomes unimportant.
Although Onenote is quite handy - you might find evernote better for taking notes. To use the full version, it is about $20 a year, but well worth it.
The free Marriott wi fi connections are hit and miss. The Marriott Heathrow Airport hotel on Bath Road seems to have upgraded theirs, but for the most part, using video chat from a hotel in Europe (or a Marriott in the United States, for that matter) is an exercise in frustration. You can get your email, usually surf the net, but anything requiring video or more bandwidth is dicey.
If you want to use your tablet and phone over the same "free" connection in a hotel, you might find that problematic. There are some good mobile routers out there, but you might wish to wait for the Dlink one coming out next month. I believe it'll relay wired and wireless internet as well as let you put a dongle on from a cellular company.
On the whole, I am happier with my non blackberry setup, but I do use local sim cards wherever I can.
Thanks so much for your response. One interesting thing about my email account, when I am at my kids house in Germany, I can't seem to access my email (officelive.com) from their PC (both mac and pc) in Germany. Strange. But about portability, as far as the video chatting, that's something I don't actually need in Europe, that's something I need here at home, and I'm not happy with Skype on my laptop, so I've been using Facetime via an iPhone (not mine). As far as being able to have a good and fast browser access, the last time I was in Europe, my regular data plan (on the BlackBerry) did not work outside the U.S. I had to upgrade my data plan for the month so that I could have data access in Europe, and strangely when I was over there, I couldn't gain access! (AT&T) refunded my money when I returned home. I just want to have good and fast internet access, and I don't want to have to depend on hotel services. And ya, email access via mobile phone is def cheaper than international calling. As far as an unlocked phone and local sim cards, are you referring to jailbreaking? I'm a little bit hesitant about that. I will look into evernote. The price seems reasonable. I would really like to avoid paying for a data plan on both a mobile phone and a tablet. A big thanks again for your input.
Thank you for your reply.
I didn't jailbreak my iphone. I live in Canada, where they sell unlocked ones. I don't know if they do that in the US yet, but in many countries, you can pay extra and get one that works anywhere. They are not cheap, but certainly it has saved me money. I expect AT&T will unlock any of the other phones for you, not sure about iphones. Jailbreaking voids the warranty, getting an unlocked phone does not.
In the UK, I get a prepaid SIM card and it is a lot cheaper. A pound a day for data - for the first five days of the month, and nothing after that - so a total of 10 pounds a month. If you want to hook up a laptop, I went to three.co.uk and you can get a dongle with 3 gigabytes of data which lasts three months.
I do not know of the exact data plans in Germany, but if you go with an iphone or ipad, they use micro sim cards, which, although available in the UK, are not available everywhere. In Germany, they had only mini sim cards. I can tell you where to get a cutter for under $10 if you're going with something like this. Then, in Germany, for example, you can get a prepaid SIM, cut it in the machine, and off you go. If you use an Orascomm one in Germany, you have to manually put in an APN (which is a default gateway). They never make it easy.
As to your email account, I have no explanation as to why you couldn't access it in Germany. I think the business version is being replaced by Office365 (which costs money) but I can tell you Office365 works just fine in Germany.
Facetime works just fine if the other person has an apple product too. However, I have had a lot of problems with it in the hotels, and it does not work directly on the cell networks, so if you want to be "independant" of the hotels, you will need an external device such as the one I sent a link for.
You're welcome and please let me know if you have any more questions. I actually use this stuff, so maybe my experiences can be helpful to other rewards members like yourself.
Actually, I hope it is permissible to post (I do not sell or get any benefit from these but they are hard to find and you can't just go up and buy them) but I got my SIM cutter from here Stainless Steel Micro Sim Card Cutter with Micro Sim Card Adapters for Apple iPad/iPhone 4 - Free Shipping - DealExtreme
Considering someone wanted to charge me 5 euros to cut a sim card, this is a pretty good deal.
Now I understand what you are referring to with the unlocked phones and pre-paid sim cards. I remember one of my colleagues telling me about doing this when he visits India, and that it's a great way to go. I really don't need this in Germany (my kids live there and have their iPhones with their German carriers), just everywhere else, ha!
Wifi is nice, but I prefer to be wifi independent for the reasons you mention, even if it costs. Just trying to keep costs reasonable.
I will miss OfficeLive when it goes away on April 30th. It was a great run while it lasted (very inexpensive.)
Not really interested in taking along a laptop while traveling. I won't be doing 'work,' just wanting information at my fingertips.
Thanks for all of this info. Very helpful.
Your first post asked about MS OneNote. I have an android phone (Samsung Galaxy S2), and have downloaded the free OneNote app. This syncs all my travel notes between home PC and phone - works great. Not sure if similar app exists for Apple. Agree with previous comments re buying local sim cards with data. Huawei also make mobile wi fi routers (MiFi) - you can put your local sim card in this router, and it then acts as a portable wireless spot which you can connect several different devices to (phone, tablet, etc) - the MiFi router uses the sim card data connection, and broadcasts it to your other devices.