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.

17 thoughts on “What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador? (Part One)

  1. This is exactly the kind of info I’d like to know. However, there’s no way a Mac is easier to use for someone who’s used to Windows. I think a much better recommendation would be for someone to bring something with which they are comfortable and if that’s a Windows PC/laptop then that’s what they should bring.

    • Mark, I agree and I think I said that in the beginning of the post. If you are happy with your computer then bring it. If you’re considering on buying a new computer then I think the Mac is a better choice. You will find learning the OS X operating system much easier.

      • I’m posting this from a MacBook Air. I have an iPad and an iPhone. I don’t think there is anything inherently easier about learning OS X. One of my daughters picked a Mac and one picked a PC and both were able to get on our wireless network and learn what they needed to know in pretty short order. Both daughters and I agree that file management is much easier on a PC.

        I think a big factor would be the availability of support, especially from acquaintances. Unless something is quite different there, there are going to be more Windows people to ask for help.

        I must’ve misinterpreted your suggestion. The way I read it, you recommended that anyone who didn’t bring a computer, for whatever reason, should get a Mac, even if they were used to Windows.

    • Great question. I’m going to say a Tablet and specifically an IPad with some caveats. Firstly you need to also purchase a bluetooth keyboard. Sustained typing just doesn’t work on the virtual keyboard. Secondly, although the IPad has thousands of useful apps, it still doesn’t have the capability to run proprietary software (i.e. databases, accounting, sophisticated video editing). So the short answer is an IPad. I use my Macbook Air mostly for video editing and photo editing.

      • Thanks!
        Although I’ve used a Mac a few times (and started with an Apple II+!) I’m most comfortable with a PC. I do a lot of writing, and store quite a few photos, but no video work, so I’m not sure I’d like to lug around the separate keyboard. I don’t plan on coming down until fall, so I have time to see if any new and improved stuff comes out before then.

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  3. I don’t understand your comment about using an iPad with MagicJack. How does that work?

    As I understand it, MagicJack has an RJ-11 jack in which you must connect a standard landline-style connector. The iPad does not have that, so…?

    I would expect that you would just use the iPad via WiFi when in the vicinity of your home computer, which means the MagicJack would not be a factor.

    My real bottom-line question is, which flavor (AT&T or Verizon) can be used via cell connection in Cuenca? My wife has just decided to upgrade her iPad2 to an iPad3, and we are trying to figure out which to get. Verizon supports hotspot, which is a plus, but does it have a SIM card and GSM-available radio for Ecuador (as her iPhone4S does)?

    • Burt said As I understand it, MagicJack has an RJ-11 jack in which you must connect a standard landline-style connector. The iPad does not have that, so…?

      You’re correct. You have to purchase the MagicJack USB drive but then you can install the IPad App and use the IPad with the mic and the speaker to make your calls.

      Re: AT&T or Verizon. Cuenca only has GSM. No CDMA (Verizon). The two Cellphone carriers are Claro and MoviStar. I haven’t met anyone that has a IPad 3G model but I know that both Cuenca Carriers have Sim Chips and plans for the IPhone which should be applicable to the IPad.

  4. hello, in Feb/13 I will be heading to Ecuador to teach English either in Loja or Cuenca. I need to get a new system here in Canada before I leave and need to set my mom up with similar. Can you tell me more about the Mac as that is what we are looking at for Skype etc. I also take alot of photography so can I use a mac for storing this etc. I will also be looking for properties to rent (very cheap) and to purchase property in the future for retirement in Ecuador

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