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Post-retirement phone and computer
Old 11-14-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
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Post-retirement phone and computer

I'll be spending a lot of time in the US, starting next June and I'm thinking it would be a good idea to get a phone and a computer to use on the road.

Any advice on the best systems and/or service providers for people on cross-country road trips. I will only use the phone for emergencies (which I foresee quite a few of, given my driving habits with the RV).

Thanks.

Nui
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:43 PM   #2
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For an emergency use phone, I'd recommend getting "pay as you go" phone service from AT&T or Verizon. The phones are inexpensive, you'll pay for only the time you use, and no contract to sign.

The above is for voice and text only. When you say "computer to use on the road", are you referring to what type of internet service to buy or what brand/type of computer to purchase?
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:43 PM   #3
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In term of service providers for cell phones and internet services, I have been unsing AT&T (iPhone) and Verizon (Mifi wireless router to connect my iPad/Computer to the internet while on the road) nationwide. I have been pretty happy overall with both providers.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:28 PM   #4
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For the phone coverage. You might be able to get by with a prepaid minutes plan.

If you get a data plan... coverage matters... often they seem to be bundled with the voice plan.



Are you intending to just use wifi connections for your computer or get a cellphone data plan?

Not sure what on the road means... but you might want to see if wifi will be available.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:32 PM   #5
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I have a virgin mobile smartphone with a $25/month prepaid voice/data plan. Now the cheapest plan they sell is $35 per month. 300 minutes talk and unlimited data connection including a wifi hotspot feature. I use the phone as a mobile wifi hotspot for my netbook/laptop and sometimes for business multiple users jump on the network.

I will note that the coverage area for virgin mobile is limited, and only covers 80-90% of the country. Some parts of the northern midwest/west aren't covered (like the state of Montana IIRC). But for parts of the US that I am likely to visit for business or pleasure (coasts, Florida, Chicago, etc) they have coverage.
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:04 PM   #6
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Thanks all!

I'm actually trying to figure out how to get 3G or 4G coverage. However, by the time I'm actually ready to buy the laptop and hook up, the technology will have changed 5 times over.

Nui
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:15 PM   #7
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The Virgin Mobile service is 3G and I get 300-800 kbps uploads and downloads here in the city. Good enough for email and websurfing, not so good for skype, video, etc. My cable broadband is 7000 kbps download and 400 kbps upload for reference.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:54 AM   #8
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Hello Nui - I am not an IT or phone expert, but is there any reason why you could not get an iphone ? I got an iphone 4 about two weeks ago (my first Apple product ever), and I am impressed with all its functions. You would get 3G coverage and read/send emails if need be.
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I'm actually trying to figure out how to get 3G or 4G coverage. However, by the time I'm actually ready to buy the laptop and hook up, the technology will have changed 5 times over.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:56 AM   #9
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If you are going to be on the road, your best bet is to get Verizon service for the prepaid minutes. Regarding computer, it sounds like you are not in rush. If so, stop by any public library on any town or city and you can have a free access to a computer and printing at nominal cost if you need it.

I use public library computer when I'm upstate in my hunting cabin then my rich neighbor had internet hooked up in his hunting mansion. So, now I steal his WiFi and don't have to make the trip to the town library with CRT monitor screens. Life is good when you live next to a rich guy.
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:15 AM   #10
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When we are on the road, and not in our hotel room, we use the 'public' systems if we need to get on the internet for some reason. For us that could mean free wifi at Starbucks or some other restaurant/coffe bar that has free wifi access.

It could also mean parking in a motel or automobile dealership parking lot. Most of these business now provide wifi to customers and most do not require a code. The downside is security...you would need to be careful what you accessed. We have used libraries, but we have found the latter to be more convenient and typically work 24 X 7.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:05 PM   #11
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if you are doing mostly the basics ( web browsing, mail, etc..) i would consider an ipad w/ cell capability and then optionally a cheap pay as you go phone.

can use skype on the ipad for semi mobile phone use. you can also use wifi whenever possible on the ipad and then cell network as a fallback when no other connectivity is available.

going this way there's no need for extra wifi hotspot gear. this is all assuming you don't need some PC specific software of course. if that's the case.. nevermind.. :-)
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:04 PM   #12
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It has been a while, but when I was a road warrior in North America, I found that while AT&T was the first to have a no-roaming fee national package, coverage was not great. Eventually we went to Verizon--I asked the local real estate agents what service they used, as they need good coverage. Verizon also had a US&Canada package that may no longer be available.

A couple of months ago, I bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone with WiFi and G4 (if you can find a carrier who can provide G4). It is unlocked and uses sim cards. I have a sim card for the US, one for Great Britain, and one for Baku and they are all pay-as-you-go (the US one is not as flexible as the others). (You can only use one sim card at a time, but I have heard of a mobile phone that allows two sim cards at the same time, to save trouble if you travel between two countries regularly.)

I like my little Galaxy. It is an Android phone with Google maps, internet, a HP calculator app, a calendar app, a clock app with a number of time zones (love that!) and an alarm, and a memo app. It has been very handy on three continents.

My wife bought an unlocked iPad from AT&T and loves it. It is a little larger than my Galaxy which makes it easier to use but harder to handle. No phone function either.

I have been waiting for hardware and software like this all my life!
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