Laptop, Netbook, iPhone, Help!

Mar 21st, 2010, 11:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 223
Laptop, Netbook, iPhone, Help!

My husband and I will be spending June in Italy. We have a MacBook which we have used for travel in the US, and loved having it along. For Italy, we have considered many scenarios:

Buying a netbook for internet access and purchasing a cheap cell phone in Italy for local calls
Taking the MacBook and purchasing a cell in Italy
Buying an iphone to use for both internet and mostly within-Italy calls

My worries about the iphone option are that we will be locked into an additional phone contract here at home (our current phones are T-Mobile, still under contract). Also, I worry about inadvertently running up charges by not having the iphone set correctly. We would use it mostly for looking up travel info online, not general surfing, and for email with family.

We are not very tech-savy and tend to have complications using technology in new situations.

Are there other options I should consider? Which would be best for our situation/limitations?

Thanks for any insight, which you can see is much needed!
enewell is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 12:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
I'm also not very tech-savy and I've posted threads here on fodors in that regard.

That said, I travel with my little Acer mini laptop for internet access and downloading photos. And then I have two very inexpensive 3G phones so that my husband and I can each carry one with us. I put a new SIM card into each phone when we arrive (for us it's Switzerland, and I purchase SwissCom SIM cards upon arrival). We can call each other and make local as well as international calls quite easily. Since we take the same two phones with us when we travel internationally, we have names and numbers stored on these phones for Europe and Asia usage. I don't think I'd opt to pay for an international service here in the US since it is so easy to get SIM cards put into 3G phones in other countries.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Where you will you be spending June in Italy?

Even small-ish towns usually have internet access through the tourist office, for about 1 euro per hour. If all you need is travel information and e-mail, I know it's not as convenient as being able to browse anytime from where you are living, but it can do you.

That said, I think simpsonc510's advice is good -- because I think you and your husband will find it advantageous to have two cell phones for a month in Italy.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 223
We will be in Florence for 1 week, in an agriturismo near Pienza for 2 weeks, and in Acqui Terme for 5 days. Lots of day trips to villages/small towns.

I had read somewhere that it is becoming harder to find internet cafes as more people are traveling with their computers.

Thanks for the great responses so far!
enewell is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,812
For this kind of question, you have to understand your usage model as well as the priority items. All we know here is that 1. you have a Mac book for internet access, and 2. you want to call within Italy.

Internet access itself spans many question. Do you just run browsers or do you need to use your Mac internet applications? From where do you want to access the internet?

Calls; are you calling from outside where you are staying? Calling from a Wifi brings in VOIP options.

You probably get many divergent recommendations, but unless you can articulate your usage model and the constraints, the recommendations would unlikely match your needs.

I carry a netbook and two unlocked quad band GSM phones with TIM Italian SIM cards. I can access internet from either the netbook or my GSM phones from Wifi access points. iPhone is not the only smart phone that can access the Internet. This setup addresses my usage model but may not match yours.
greg is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
If you have a MacBook (not a MacBook Pro), it should be pretty light (mine is). And you don't have to worry about moving around too much anyway. My strategy would be not to worry about buying a new netbook that you'll have to set up and figure out (I know they're cheap, but if I already have something that will suffice well, I'd rather spend that few hundred dollars elsewhere). I'd take the MacBook and get a couple of cell phones and SIM cards.

The iPhone does not sound like the best option for you, given your cell provider situation especially. If you are in the market for an mp3 player, though, an iPod Touch will also allow you wifi access and you wouldn't have to worry about whether you're using it in the correct mode. However, if you plan to do lots of emailing or browsing, it may not be the best solution - I find devices that size handy for quick browsing/email checking but would not use it as my main internet access tool.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,012
How connected to you want/need to be while on vacation? Do your two lodging locations have computers for guest use? How much stuff (and all their chargers) do you want to carry around and keep safe everywhere?
Jean is online now  

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