What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador (Part 5)

My wife and I have lived in Cuenca for 2.5 years and my thoughts have changed considerably since I first suggested what Electronics to bring to Ecuador when you permanently make the move.  Feel free to check the past posts. The most recent (Part 4) being here

I’m going to assume that the majority of readers will not be bringing a container and will use their available suitcases. In the next couple of paragraphs I’m going to surprise some readers and friends with my new recommendations.

You Don’t Need A Computer

It’s not a typo. if you are not doing proprietary work (i.e. video editing, accounting, database work, programming) then the latest tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will suit you fine.  Although my preference because of my Apple background and equipment would be an iPad Air or an iPad Mini, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Nexus 7 or Samsung Galaxy and they are considerably cheaper than the iPad.  The iPad does have the advantage with the 1 Billion strong app store but I know several people in Ecuador that are very happy with their Nexus 7.

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You Don’t Need A Printer

Most expats are retired. they are not working for a living anymore. Printers are bulky to bring and they are more expensive to buy in Ecuador. Initially we brought our Laser Printer with us when we first moved.  The paper jammed and I can’t find anybody that knows laser printers to repair the machine. For the past 6 months I have put anything I needed to print on a thumb drive and walk two blocks to a local copy shop and they print my documents in color or black and white.

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You Need A Smarthphone

The<$100 cell phones that you buy in Ecuador have inferior reception and transmission. I can always tell when I’m not speaking to someone on a Smartphone when there voice cuts out 3-5 times during a minute conversation. The benefits of a smartphone are numerous.

  • email availabiliy
  • Skype/MagicJack  ready
  • Spanish/English Translation
  • Web Access
  • GPS Map Apps
  • Great Camera

If you can afford an iPhone then you can’t go wrong. However, for what you would pay for 1 unlocked iPhone 5S you can buy 2 Nexus 5 phones. Data plans are about $35 per month. Half of what they are in the U.S. and you don’t get charged for incoming calls.

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You Need A VPN Router

For those people who want to have a seamless experience with their computer, tablets , Apple TV, Smartphone, or Roku Box then this is the easiest way to go. Yes, you can individually connect your devices via software to a VPN service (i.e. Strong, Witopia, HMA etc) but you can’t connect an Apple TV or Roku box any other way but through a VPN router. A Roku Box won’t work at all unless the device sees you with a U.S. IP address. I  extensively cover the benefits of a VPN router in this post

You Don’t Need A Point And Shoot Camera

Although I do own a Canon DSLR camera most of my shots are snapped on my iPhone. I have my iPhone all the time. I never miss a shot and I don’t have to lug a bulky camera kit with lenses around with me. I initially brought a Samsung point and shoot and now I don’t use it all. The iphone shots are great and you can also shoot video. The same can be said for the Samsung Galaxy and new Nexus 5 smartphones.

You May Need A Wifi Extender

We live in a 40 year old 2 story adobe house and need a wifi extender for the signal to reach from my office(router and modem location) to the second floor bedroom 40 ft away.  Wifi signals cap out at about 30 ft and don’t do well going through concrete floors or walls.

You Need A Roku Box

The Roku 3 Media Box is a little larger than a hockey puck. There are over 300 channels you can receive (with a VPN router). Netflix, Amazon Prime, NBC News, PBS, CBS News are just a few of the channels we can receive. If you have an investment in Apple equipment I also suggest you purchase and Apple TV for the Airplay facility as well as having access to the Itunes Store.

I look forward to your comments, and suggestions. There is no strict list of what you should bring. These items work well for my family. Your mileage may vary.  I’m available via Skype (at $20 per hour) to anyone who is considering moving down to Ecuador. During that hour I can suggest brands, vendors and installers that will save you hundreds of dollars and share with you mistakes that I made choosing the wrong equipment and ISP.

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Apple TV Or Roku Box?

Full disclosure.  All my family devices are Apple (Macbook, iPad, iPhone, iPod). I also worked for Apple many years ago and finally my television viewing is in Ecuador. If you have enough ports on your HDTV and the budget to connect both devices I think you should purchase both boxes. The total cost is less than $200 and you will surely get at least 3 years use out of both boxes giving a per month cost of about $5. Plus the Apple TV Box has the benefit of connecting all your devices without wires via Airplay.

The next statement is going to surprise most people who know me but if you only have a Windows machine or Android tablet then I suggest you buy only the Roku Box.  Here are my reasons.

  • Many more channels (Amazon Video, Blockbuster, PBS, CBS News etc) to view via Roku
  • Better UI( User Interface)  and Remote  than Apple TV
  • On the Roku 3 you have the ability to mute the TV and listen on Headphones connected to the Remote
  • Free online support via the Roku website
  • Ability to add a usb drive for extra movie viewing
  • ***MOST IMPORTANTLY – THE ROKU STREAMS VIDEO MORE EFFICIENTLY  ***

Be aware that the Roku box requires a VPN router which i discussed in length at this post 

Conclusion: I am thoroughly enjoying my Roku experience and am very pleased at the diverse channel selection available to me.

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Television In Cuenca – Testing A Roku Box

No sooner than I thought my TV experience was complete in Cuenca a friend loaned me a Roku Box to test on my system. In my TV revisited post 

I mentioned all the hardware and software service I used. The summary is below

  • VPN Router with Strong VPN software
  • Apple TV
  • Subscriptions to Netflix, and Amazon Prime

The Apple TV gave me the ability to stream via wif anything from my MAC, iPad, iPod or iPhone. Having a significant investment in Apple products I thought gave me the advantage to see everything that I wanted without the Roku Box.

Here are my findings after testing the Roku box for 3 days.

  • A significant increase in video and audio channels over Apple TV
  • I like the Remote better than the simple Apple TV remote
  • Amazon Video Selection is a channel on the Roku rather than streamed from my iPad
  • USTVNOW is a channel on Roku – I can easily watch Football games on my Big Screen TV
  • Searching is more complete and easier on the Roku Box
  • I can attach headphones to the Roku Box
  • Netflix streams better on the Roku.

What would I recommend?

If you have the available HDMI ports I would say buy both. Apple TV has the very impressive Itunes store for unlimited movie and TV shows.  Airplay is only available on the Apple TV so if you have Apple hardware this is a hard one to pass up. Also in mid October Apple is making a major announcement that includes improvements to the Apple TV.

Cost Summary:

  • Apple TV – $99 (one time)
  • Roku Box – $99 (one time)
  • VPN Router – $149 (one time)
  • VPN Software- $90 (per year)
  • Netflix – ($8 per month)
  • Amazon Prime Membership ( $70 per year)

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