What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador? (Part One)

The following recommendations are based on my 10 months in Cuenca.  You can categorize the electronics journey into 3 groups:  1) Bringing electronics on your container.  2) Packing your electronics in your luggage.  3) Renting space on someone else’s container.  Fortunately, I was able to rent space on a container.  The following recommendations are based on #2.

Computers – If you are happy with your laptop (notebook) computer then certainly bring it with you. My wife and I have a hard fast rule. We don’t share desserts or computers! If you are contemplating getting a second computer, then for certain purchase it in the U.S. or Canada.  Electronics are, for the most part, 30% more expensive in Ecuador. You don’t have the selection of products that you have in the the US.  I am recommending a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro.  I am advocating for these computers not because I  once worked for Apple but for the following reasons: they have a better operating system than Windows. Not as vulnerable to viruses as a Windows machine. They are better constructed.  Easier to use software and more user friendly. Better resale value, especially in Ecuador. It is “light as air” (under 2 pounds) which is great for many reasons. I am also recommending the MacBook line because I place a high priority on my time and it’s just easier using a MAC.

  • MacBook Air  – 11″, 13″ and soon to be released 15″ model  Engadget’s review said the following about the MacBook Air – “It’s a supermodel with a law degree from Columbia, a hunky motorcycle racer who looks good in leathers yet is also a concert pianist — whatever your passion it won’t disappoint, all while making a lot more room in your bag. More room for what? Well, your life, for starters.”
  • MacBook Pro – Top of the line notebook computer with  the optical disk and hard disk that is lacking in the MacBook Air –    Ubergizmo  Review : The new Macbook Pro is a great computer with an amazing world-class design. I think that very few would question how well it is built and how much attention to detail went into it

Printers –  If you can bring a printer in your luggage then I would bring a wireless laser printer. There are plenty of printers in Ecuador but from my limited experience the quality is lacking and the inks are not the same quality as the U.S.

Tablets –  I don’t want to sound like an Apple commercial but I highly recommend an IPad for anyone who is thinking about a second computer.  Plus , I can use my IPad for Skype and MagicJack calls to stay in touch with people back home.  And it is so much easier carrying a 14 oz device than a 5 lb notebook computer similar to the PC my wife uses. My IPad can do just about everything that my computer can do except heavy duty video editing or proprietery programs such as accounting programs. I formed the Cuenca IPad Users Group which meets every other Thursday morning and discusses how to better use the IPad/IPhone/IPod in your life. It offers a social connection and support.

  • IPad Walt Mossberg Review: For the past week or so, I have been testing a sleek, light, silver-and-black tablet computer called an iPad. After spending hours and hours with it, I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop.
  • Kindle – For anyone who loves books this is a no brainer and especially since the price of the entry level Kindle is now $79. There is nowhere in Cuenca that you can buy a new Kindle thus making the resale value very high and the convenience of having a Kindle  a “buy in the US/Canada before you come” moment.

In Part Two I will discuss Routers, Cables, Digital Cameras, Camcorders and Hard Disk storage.  I look forward to a lively discussion on some of my recommendations.

DropBox – Part 1

Pop quiz everyone.  How do you share photos, videos, documents with all your computers and smartphones and still make these files available to your friends and family without having to individually send them very large video files via email.  The answer is Dropbox

Dropbox is an example of a Cloud Service.  Other Cloud Services are ICloud, Box, PogoPlug. In my opinion the biggest advantage of any Cloud Service is the convenience of sharing your files across different computer and saving valuable hard drive space.

Below is a 3 minute video of how I use Dropbox.

Cloud Services

According to Wikipedia “Cloud computing provides computation, software, data access, and storage resources without requiring cloud users to know the location and other details of the computing infrastructure.”

All of us use the cloud everyday when we send or read an email using Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. Cloud services have been around for more than a decade but are now coming into the mainstream because many of us are using Smartphones, IPads and notebooks as our sources of computing and we want to see our files, photos, music, videos on each device with no regard to geographic location.

I am presently living in Cuenca, Ecuador but my gmail may be stored anyplace in the world where Google has their server farms. I recently traveled to Oregon without my computer.  I could read my email, edit my photos and upadate my blog on several of my friend’s computers simply by signing into to my google account and accessing my stored data on the cloud.

I own a MacBook Air and an IPad.  Both of these great devices have limited solid state drives for storage.  I’m limited on the MBA to 256 GB and 32 GB on the IPad. I rely on Cloud Services to store my photos, videos and documents.

Listed below are free Cloud Services. I will review many of them in detail on future posts.

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • ICloud
  • Dropbox
  • Box
  • Pogoplug
  • SkyDrive
  • Amazon

Animoto – Part One

A big challenge for any photographer is how to store, share and present your photos to friends and family.  Animoto is a super easy-to-use web based application that you can use on your computer (PC or Mac) IPad, IPod or IPhone to create videos using your photos plus music.  The Lite program is free to use to make 30 seconds videos or you can subscribe to their Plus program for $30 per year . The Plus program gives you unlimted storage and the videos can be longer than 30 seconds.  The Pro version is probably beyond the scope of the readers of this blog as it is geared to professional photographers and businesses.

After you create a new video using your photos, you can share it with friends on the web, Facebook, or Email.

In my next post I will create a screenflow video to show the easy steps in creating an Animoto video. Below is a short sample of my trip to visit family in the U.S.

Apple TV

Apple TV:

Cost: $99

Requirements:

  • HDTV with available HDMI Port.
  • Internet Connection
  • Router For Wireless Connection
  • IPad for AirPlay

Personal Experience:

Setup was a breeze. I have my Apple TV connected wirelessly to my router. I use Apple TV for the following:

  • Watching HD Movies
  • Watching  HD TV programs
  • Viewing My IPad on the 40 inch Samsung HDTV
  • Sharing My Photos On the Samsung TV with friends and family
  • Watching And Listening To My Favorite Podcasts
  • Watching Video From Flickr, YouTube And Vimeo

Rating: A 10 out of 10. Especially noteworthy is the simplicity of navigation between podcasts, movies, photos, music etc.  This is a run, don’t walk to purchase.

Apple TV is just not for Apple or IPad/IPhone products.  You can use this product with your PC laptop or desktop computer.  You can find the full Apple Description here

Welcome To Cuenca Tech Life

This blog will mainly cover tech topics for people who live in or are thinking about moving to Cuenca, Ecuador.  Although, I will be covering many topics that will be of general interest to anyone who wants to use technology more effectively and save time.

My name is Lenny Charnoff and I am a geek in a communicator’s body who has been using computers since 1980.