Laptop and Sim card question...

Aug 10th, 2007, 05:50 PM
  #1  
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Laptop and Sim card question...

I am considering taking my laptop with me on my first European trip. I would very much like to ask questions and suggestions from this forum during my time there. I have a Sony Vaio. Would you recommend a wireless aircard (I heard of companies that rent them). Also a SIM card for my phone sounds like a good idea as well. Are these good throughout Europe? Is it a better value to just buy a calling card? Thoughts on bringing the laptop? Any suggestions or comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks
EuropeRookie is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 06:38 PM
  #2  
 
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I just returned from my first trip to Europe. I didn't take a laptop and am happy I didn't have to mess with it. However, I have a blackberry and my email downloaded to me on that throughout the trip for only $20 for the month and that was worth not having the laptop. I also had limited internet connectivity with the blackberry. I could still stay in touch this way and realize that isn't an option for everyone. Internet cafes were all over the place, even in Serbia, and that might be a viable option for you rather than lugging the laptop--only you can decide that.

For the SIM card, I tried multiple routes and I am now an expert at changing out my SIM card in my phone. I first unlocked my phone with instructions from TMobile. You have to have an unlocked phone for this to be more than an academic discussion.

I bought a global SIM from intouchsmartcards.com that had a Lichtenstein number and 15 Euros on it. It had free incoming calls. Unfortunately, it ate time quickly (faster than the published rate) if I made a call to the US and it was hit or miss when my husband called me. Sometimes it rang at my end; sometimes it didn't. I reloaded once for $90 and that only got me about 45 minutes of outgoing time to the US so their markup of profit must be pretty high. At the published 39 Euros a minute to the US, $90 should have gotten me more than 45 minutes.

Rather than reload that card again, while in Serbia, I bought a local SIM for about $3 with a $10 reload which had approximately 45 minutes of outgoing to the US and free incoming calls (.50/minute and there was a doubling bonus when I purchased a $10 reload). I managed to also deplete that card, but it was a far cheaper option than the global SIM and another reload for it. I had wanted one stable phone number for my family, but found that it would be so much cheaper to buy the local SIM and then email the number to them as I go. That is what I will do in future.

Considering what US cell phone companies charge to call home using your US number, buying the local SIM card is probably a good option for just about anyone who plans to stay in close contact with home. If family or friends call you from their home phone with a good international rate, it is definitely the best option because the incoming calls in Europe are free. I hope this helps.

Kellye is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 06:59 PM
  #3  
 
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There are a number of threads about the pros/cons of taking a laptop. It depends on what you want to use it for, how much you expect to use it, how big is it, do you have a safe place to keep it when not on you etc.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 07:05 PM
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Unless you're using your computer for work, the best solution is having a Blackberry for your emails. T-Mobile has an excellent service in this respect.

If you are making a lot of calls home, a phone card makes sense, otherwise, a local sim card allows you to receive unlimited calls at not expense to you.
Robert2533 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 08:54 PM
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You have to verify if your telephone can (1) work within the European bands, and (2) does your telephone allow you to change your sim card to another service. Many telephones are blocked and you cannot use any other sim cards.

Google about your telephone before you decide to carry this to Europe. You'll have to find a way to charge your telephone too.

Blackduff
blackduff is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 10:00 PM
  #6  
 
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BlackBerries are obviously little use if you think you're going to need to upload or download attachments.

If by "wireless aircard", you mean a GPRS card that links your laptop to the local mobile phone system, look very carefully indeed at the rates the provider will charge for up- and downloading. Last time I investigated, this was of the order of €1 or €2 per megabyte when roaming, which meant that even emailing a client a .pdf invoice was costing serious money.

If you need your laptop, you'll find:
- WiFi is rarely available in cheaper hotels, and often is quite expensive in business-style places
- A growing number (but not all) of internet cafes let you use your own laptop, either accessing their WiFi or plugging into their LAN, typically for around €2 an hour. Internet cafes are practically ubiquitous - but not necessarily exactly where or when you want them.
- the perfect solution is to have a BlackBerry and a WiFi enabled laptop, using the BlackBerry for phone calls and to see when there's an urgent email, and the laptop for dealing with it later when you get to somewhere you can connect to WiFi or a LAN.
- forget about dial-up access if touring in Europe, unless you're renting a flat in one place for a while. If you're touring, the profusion of different phone jacks makes it difficult to connect physically, and the access costs to an ISP from hotel bedrooms can bankrupt you.
- what's best, though, varies immensely according to what you need connectivity for, and where exactly you're planning to be. Europe's not a country.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 01:58 AM
  #7  
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Thanks for the suggestions. My laptop is small and lightweight not too much of a burden. I've had an "aircard" before through Verizon Wireless. I was wondering what if any companies can provide a similar service on a monthly basis that also will rent the "card" to me. I'm not too smart when it comes to these type of things, but I do know Europe is not a country (thanks flanneruk.....dolt) any other suggestions are appreciated...minus the smartass remarks. Thanks
EuropeRookie is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 03:04 AM
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Ah, now doesn't that just show what an unfair world it is.

You're the one who needs information.
Try being unpleasant and you just don't get any more answers.

Tough old life, isn't it?
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 11th, 2007, 05:34 AM
  #9  
 
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I'll give some more info. . .

I spent 30 days and visited 8 countries (ranging from England to Croatia and Corfu, Greece) and I took a laptop for the first time in 4 years.

As a tool for internet access, I'm not sure it was worth it. I found wireless connectivity spotty and wired connection just as expensive at internet cafes as their own desktop computers.

But because I am a photographer, I did think the computer was worth it, though I have traveled many times with just an Epson P2000, which is a small hard drive with a very nice viewing screen.

Next summer? I don't know that I will mess with it. I am planning on doing some cheap flights within Europe and weight is a big issue.

Incidentally, my computer is a small Macbook, and is fairly small. But even then, it and the charger weigh in at around 4 pounds, which is 12 percent of my 33 pound baggage limit.

I don't travel with a phone so I don't have any expertise.
sshephard is offline  

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