Tablet, Phablet, Smartphone 2015

Last year at this time I wrote an extensive post on this topic. As expected there are big changes. Prices have dropped.

  • Nexus 6 smartphone $349
  • Amazon 7 ” Fire Tablet  – $50

More importantly apps have become more productive and entertaining.

  • Amazon Photo – Unlimited photo and video storage
  • Amazon Music – Tens of  thousands of popular songs
  • HBO Now – Latest series and movies
  • Medium –  A new publishing forum from the creators of Twitter
  • What’s App – Free texting and phone calls
  • Pocket Casts – Listen to public radio and podcasts all over the world
  • OK Google / Siri – Search assistants to explore the web
  • 4K Video – Broadcast quality movies

Summary:

The smartphone has now become your computer, camera and messaging appliance that fits in your pocket or purse.

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What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ( Part 6 )

It’s now a year since I wrote Part 5 and my wife and I have lived in Ecuador for 3.5 years.  This post is largely subjective based on my usage and mistakes in Cuenca.

This advice is meant for those on a limited budget and not bringing a container to Ecuador. I am going to start with the most important device and work by way down to the small items that you can’t find or that are expensive in Ecuador.

Smartphone: Invest in an unlocked Nexus 6 or iPhone 6+. These are relatively large phones sometimes called Phablets but they will be your best techonology friend in Ecuador. I also suggest you buy a data plan. In Cuneca I pay $32 a month for minutes and data and never run out of either one.  Below are some uses other than voice and texting.

  • Maps and directions
  • Photo and video ( I haven’t used my expensive Canon in 4 months)
  • Easy Taxi – requesting taxis at night and in bad weather
  • Learning Spanish (Translate, SpanishDict, Duolingo)
  • Music listening ( Amazon complete music library)
  • Netflix (watching movies)
  • Playing Bridge

Tablet: I have the iPad Mini w/ retina screen but I can highly recommend the Nexus 7. I recommend the larger tablets ( The iPad Air is an excellent choice) if you are not going to bring your computer.  I’m sticking to my recommendation of not bringing a computer if you don’t need it for business or serious photo/video editing. A large tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will be powerful and very portable.

Streaming Boxes: These hockey puck  devices will be your night time companions if you enjoy watching movies and TV series. You can’t go wrong with the ones below:

  • Apple TV
  • Roku 3
  • Amazon Fire TV

Basically you can watch TV series and movies with these devices connected to your TV. They also have the added advantage of wirelessly connecting some of your devices ( computer, iphone tablet ) wirellessly to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) Router. I use the Sabai Cisco router because of the excellent technical support. I go to great lengths to describe the challenges of watching TV/Movies in Ecuador. I recommend using the search facility on this blog and typing in “VPN” and you will see several posts with recommendations.

Google just came out with their own streaming box called Nexus Player but I haven’t seen enough reviews to recommend buying that device.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.25 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage(
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bring data to be printed
  • VPN subscription  – I use Strong VPN and it’s about $8 a month
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.

Some of the subscribers of this blog have great success with Ooma. It’s  worth a look for cheap and dependable calls back to the U.S.

Again this are my recommendations based on my experience. I haven’t used my DVD player in 2 months and my camera in 4 months.  Save the room in your suitcases for good sheets and towels  🙂

 

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Tablet, Phablet or Smartphone

I have a confession to make. Ever since I acquired the Nexus 5 Phone and the iPad Mini Retina I only use my Macbook for photo and video editing. Several days can go by without opening my computer. The tablet and smartphone are too powerful and portable to drag my notebook computer around. Tablets and smartphones have become more powerful and cheaper in the last year. Recently I read a quote that an iPhone 6 has more storage and computing power than President Bill Clinton had when he was President.

You can also purchase a Phablet like the Nexus 6 or the iPhone 6+ which is a smartphone with a large screen and a fast processor. The Nexus 6 has a 6 inch screen thus making watching HD Video a reality.

A new Nexus 7 tablet is now less than $200 and the iPad Mini is $249. Expect to pay $749 for a contract free iPhone 6+ and $649 for a Nexus 6. A Nexus 5 Smartphone ( I own this one ) is a great bargain at $349

My Day With My Nexus 5 and iPad Mini

My iPad is on my nightstand. I often look at email and notifications before I get dressed. I take my espresso and iPad into the Sun Room and answer email, Facebook messages and Blog comments.

On my walk into town I am listening to several podcasts on my smartphone. – Marketplace, Fresh Air, This American Life.

I stop off at a local Internet Cafe and take out my ipad Mini to answer email and play Contract Bridge on Bridge Base.com. I sometimes Skype with friends and family

On my walk back home I will listen to Books On Tape or Amazon Music.

Later in the evening I will watch a movie on the iPad using  Netflix or Amazon Prime and finishing off the day with reading on my Kindle App.

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When An iPad Is Just The Right Medicine

As some of you know I just had some complicated Eye Surgery. I developed a hole in my Macular and lost 80% of my vision. The prognosis without surgery was grim. The good news is that one of the best Retina Specialists in South America is in Cuenca. The surgery was performed under local anesthesia(without any pain) at 1/3 of the cost of a U.S. surgeon. He also inserted a lens for my cataract issue.

So what does this have to do with an iPad you ask. The recovery time is 8 days and for 12 hours a day I have to lie prone with head down. A friend loaned me a portable massage table and I have the iPad Mini on a table 8 inches from my one good eye. In those 12 hours I do the following on my iPad

  • Read books on the Kindle App
  • Listen to Books on Tape on the Audible App
  • Play Bridge on Bridge Base
  • Listen to music on my Amazon Music App
  • Listen to Podcasts on Itunes
  • Spend way too much time on Facebook
  • Skype with Friends
  • Catch up on my irregular verbs in Spanish

No, because of the position of my body  I could not do this on my computer. I highly recommend anybody that is coming down to Ecuador to have a tablet. And, it the choice in the budget is a computer or a tablet. I vote for the iPad.

 

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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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