Taking Laptop & Cell phone to Italy?

Aug 30th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 5,830
Taking Laptop & Cell phone to Italy?

Since the last time we went to Europe, which was about 4 years ago -- too long, I know -- we have come to rely on our laptop whenever we have traveled in the US. What is your take on traveling in Italy with it? Is it not worth hauling the thing around? Are there compatibility problems with getting online? Some of the places we will stay offer wireless connections, but I don't know about getting to our Internet provider, Yahoo. Because we are Mac users, I had problems using PCs in Internet cafes in Scandinavia.

We also want to take our cell phone as I always had trouble makiing phone calls in Italy. We have Cingular or whatever AT&T is calling it now, and I am not clear about the sim card thing if your phone is compatible with Europe. Can someone explain it to me?

charnees is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:31 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 26
I just returned from Italy and used
a phone purchased from Mobal.com.
It is only 40.00 and you just purchase
a sim card from the country you are
staying in. The phone is unlocked and
it can be used in 120 or more countries. I have At&t and my Sliver
by Motorola would be too expensive to
use, while staying in Italy or Europe.
My phone bill for 3 weeks was 30.00.
It worked great. Have a wonderful trip.
Alpicella is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 429
Internet and especially wireless access is available through most of Italy. It's readily available in all of the major hotels.

If you have Cingular/AT&T and your phone is GSM compatible, call them and have them turn-on the international access. It runs something like $5.99/month plus the cost of actual calls. I had no problem with phone or data access in Italy with my Cingular/AT&T phone this summer.
LoriS is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,022
You can also purchase a quad band phone on ebay I did cost $50 and then either get a United Sim card which covers all of europe or get a Tim card when you get to Italy if thats all your going to use it for. Be sure phone is unlocked.
Re Computer: IMHO its simply easier to hit an internet point. I had some problems with wifi connections and it was a pain lugging mine around. Wifi is not a sure thing in Italy as it is when they say they have it here. Also Venice was expensive for net use however other cities were cheap as chips.
JoanneH is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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I have taken my MAC laptop all over Europe and had absolutely no problems connecting to the internet.

I use the laptop for:
watching movies I have downloaded
downloading my photos each night
checking e-mail
checking for directions, opening times, admission prices
use Skype to call home

This is just some of my uses, there are more. Just make sure you have the correct plug adapter for Italian outlets.
lydialikestotravel is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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We always take the laptop.

Picture downloads
Skype communications

daveesl is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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"Because we are Mac users, I had problems using PCs in Internet cafes in Scandinavia." Sounds like a user problem. The internet doesn't know or care what you're using to run client applications. It only knows protocols and packets.

To use your AT&T phone in Europe, it will have to support the European frequencies, 900/1800 gHz. If it does, you can use it three ways:

1. Turn on International Roaming by calling AT&T; pay $1.29 per minute inbound or outbound.

2. Turn on International Roaming, pay AT&T $5.99 per month or portion (even one DAY counts as a month!) and 99¢ per minute.

3. Get the phone unlocked and buy a SIM either before you leave or when you get to Italy. Search this forum for italy gsm and you should find several hundred threads.

(I'd like to point out for the benefit of anyone stumbling on this thread that T-Mobile charges a flat 99¢ per minute with no monthly charge. As I write this, the best deal on the planet is a T-Mobile subscription from wirefly.com with a free Dash - a $350 pocket computer - and $50 to spend on getting it unlocked.)
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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I NEVER found a wifi connection in the 5 weeks I spent in the countryside in Umbria last year, so it's definitely not true that you're going to find wifi all over. And not all hotels have connections, either. A LOT depends on where you're going to be.

I have an AT&T 8215 pocket pc that I love. I had no problems using it in Italy to get my email, send email and text messages, and make and receive calls. You can ask AT&T to turn on the service for whatever countries you're going to. It's not cheap, but it's not the most expensive option, either. I suppose I could have taken out the AT&T SIM card and replaced it with a TIM or Vodaphone card in Italy, but I didn't explore that option on my last trip there.
StCirq is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 11:20 AM
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Thanks for in information, everyone.

First, I want to say hello to StCirc. I remember you from the old AOL travel boards, and all your great advice about France. As for problems in Umbria with wifi, I don't know as we are not going to Umbria this time. But two of the three places we have reserved so far (one B&B, two apts) have wifi.

Robespierre, I thank you for your concise answer. However, i have to add that I know that the problem with internet cafes was mine -- I am a klutz when using a PC and click wrong or something. I know the internet does not care: it's my macness!

We'll take these answers into account when we go; it's amazing how computer and cell phone technology has changed since we were last in Europe!

charnees is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 12:54 PM
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I was checking out the phone on Mobal and it implied that the phone was locked. Do you get instructions on how to unlock it. Also there is no mention of what the charges are either incoming or outgoing.(this is for Italy) Did I miss something.
liver227 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:04 PM
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I have traveled a couple times to Italy with my computer -- most recently this summer. My Macbook is small and reasonably light but connectivity was an issue. Either the hotels didn't have it or it was expensive.

I did appreciate that the internet cafe in Dubrovnik that I used let me plug my computer into their network so that I could post to my travel blog directly from my computer.

I have almost a year to think about it, but I'm not sure I'm going to take a computer back to Europe next summer. I am a photographer and its nice to be able to work on photos on the road but the Epson P2000 hard drive/viewer that I have works well enough.
sshephard is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:17 PM
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We bought phones from mobil for our trip to Italy. Not the least expensive option but they certainly came in handy when other members of our group arrival flights were delayed. The phone was locked and mobil did not give instructions on how to unlock their phone. I believe their are web-sites which will sell you this information. You can find a list of call charges for phones sold by mobil on their website under the support and FAQ section.
kp is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:47 PM
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Well, hello back to you, charnee

StCirq is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 02:20 PM
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Connectivity problems are alleviated greatly if you can see what networks are around you. I have a program called WiFiFoFum on my iPAQ that plots nearby access points on a "radar screen" showing azimuth and distance from me. It also uses the iPAQ's GPS to record the targets' lat/lon for future reference.


You folks with Garmin and Magellan units, just be patient. You'll probably be able to replace your obsolete unit with something similar in the next few years or so.
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:42 PM
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I brought both my laptop and my Cingular/AT&T mobile phone with me when I went back to Piemonte a couple of weeks ago.

I had no problems bringing my laptop even though I had to transit through London Heathrow twice (and thus, had to pack all my computer cables, mouse, etc. in my "one carryon bag"). I have a Toshiba w/14" screen that weighs about 5 lbs.

I stayed at Villa Sampaguita, in the country outside Asti, for a week and they now have wifi there. But I had also researched ahead of time to find wireless connections in Asti in case I needed them. I was able to find several hotels and internet cafes where you could connect to the Internet for a charge.

I never had any trouble getting online while I was at Villa Sampaguita. I was always able to access my Yahoo email account although I could not access my home Internet provider's website (Cox) to get my MS Outlook mail. However, I had that same problem in Tuscany in May when I tried to access my Cox account using the free computers in the Sinalunga Tourist Office, so I think it has more to do with how Cox's site is set up.

Also, I have taken my Cingular phone to both England, Switzerland and Italy and had not problems using it in Europe. I did have Cingular add international calling to my plan before I went to Italy in May. I only used my cell phone about 3 or 4 times in 9 days on this last trip to Italy.

Most of the time I used Skype to call home from my laptop. It's free if you connect computer to computer (you set it up before you leave). And if you call from your computer to a land line, it runs about 5 cents a minute. The call clarity was amazing and I never had to worry about how long my calls to my husband were.

You do need to have an internet connection to use Skype and you need to have a headset with a microphone. But it is totally worth it if you know you're going to be in a location where you will have a wireless internet connection.
Losna is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 06:03 AM
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If you yak on the phone a lot, Skype.com (or voice.yahoo.com) is all the rationale you need for taking a computer to Europe. I found Yahoo somewhat easier to install and configure, but Skype has the advantage of offering versions for SmartPhone and Pocket PC - so you can send and receive calls while enjoying the world peripatetically.
Robespierre is offline  

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