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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The Case For A Smartphone In Cuenca

Apple announced two new iPhones on Sept. 10th. Each phone has 1 billion transistors which makes the iPhone more powerful than most 3 year old desktop computers. As I write this post Sharon, my wife, is talking to our 7 year old grandson in San Diego via Facetime (Apple’s easy to use version of Skype) about his favorite apps. She can video chat with him and the best part is that she can also pick up Facetime calls without being at a Wifi Hot Spot.

The price of technology is constantly going down. The price of a new iPhone 5C in the States with a contract is $99. My advice to budget conscious expats is buy a used iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy 4.  You can buy either the unlocked version or phones that are under contract. Phones that are under contract can be “jailbroken” for less than $20 in Cuenca.

Monthly contracts on Claro are about $35 per month. The reception on a iPhone or a Galaxy is much better than your average $50 -$100 LG or Samsung phone.

These are some of the apps I use on a daily basis in Cuenca on my iPhone

  • Kindle App – reading books – automatically updated on my Kindle Paperwhite
  • Google Maps- Directions – walking or showing to a Taxi Driver
  • Moves – records my walking/excercise during the day and reports back in steps/miles/calories
  • Netflix- watch my favorite movie
  • USA Today- keeping up on World News
  • Facebook- Duh
  • Magic Jack – ability to make/receive free calls to anyone in North America
  • Chrome – Google Web Browser
  • Spanish Dict – Translate and dictionary
  • Duolingo – Spanish learning program
  • iPhoto – editing photos
  • Trvl – exploring potential trips to other countries

iPhone or Android iPhone??? – the iPhone is more expensive but in my opinion is worth the extra money because of the App Store that has over 1 billion apps (most of them are free)

Finally, there are great apps and podcasts that you watch on your phone that suggest new apps according to your interests.

 

******Smartphone Smackdown – Smartphone Features Compared *******

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What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador (Part Two)

Working on the assumption that you have room in your suitcases and that electronics are 30-40% higher I would bring the following:

Camera: Digital cameras are super cheap in the United States.  I have two cameras in Cuenca.  I have a Samsung ultra compact that I purchased in Costco for $130 two years ago . I take 80% of my photos with that camera. Why?  Good to Very good results and it doesn’t draw attention in the middle of a busy street.  The other camera is a Nikon D80 (looks expensive) DSLR.  I only use this camera when I am with another person or I am on a trip with a lot of other people.  I just think it’s good street smarts not to draw attention to yourself and your vunerable when changing lenses.  The Samsung also takes fair to good videos.

Camcorder: Of course this recommendation is for people who want to take videos.  I just purchased a Canon  HF R20 HD Camcorder that fits in the palm of my hand. Very inexpensive. Great videos recorded on a very inexpensive SD chip and again it does not bring attention from outsiders.

Router: Internet service is our lifeline to our children, grandchildren and friends. I have two Internet services. Total monthly charge $42. One service came with a router and the other didn’t.  If you have a good router. Bring it.

Hard Drives.  A year ago I would have said bring them down.  Now with all the free Cloud services( File storage)  around I would say “save the space”. I have a very small 500 gb Seagate Drive.  It works great.

T.V’s Blu-Ray DVD Players etc.  Again this is a storage conern. I purchased a Samsung 40 inch LED HDTV for about $150 more than in the US. It helps to be fluent in Spanish or have an assertive translator to get the best deal. I purchased a great LG Blu-Ray player for just $15 more than in the U.S.

Miscellaneous: Cables, SD Cards, Surge Protectors etc. Bring them . A 4 ft HDMI cable (connection from your device to a HDTV) cost $18 compared to about $6 in the U.S.  The same is true of of memory cards and surge protectors.

I look forward to discussion and questions on other electronic items to bring with you on your trip to Cuenca.