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Laptop and Internet usage while touring Europe

cycladeliccycladelic Posts: 641
edited December 2008 in Tour & expedition
I plan to spend a few months touring in Europe next year and will buy an Eee PC here in Taiwan before I leave - so that I can check my email and browse websites, etc.

Can anyone tell me where I can usually pick up a wireless connection in rural northern Spain and southern France - is it common and free? Do I need to get dongle? If so, how do I pay for the service when in different countries? TIA
It's an uphill climb to the bottom

Posts

  • Spain - the telecom companies (Telefonica) have installed networks of hilltop broadband transitters in many mountainous areas and lots of houses have it - but you need to find a bar or internet cafe. Just need a wifi dongle or RJ45 cable - some free and you may hit lucky with unsecured networks. My recent knowledge was mountainous Andalucia - guess should be similar in the Pyrenees - eastern end is much more affluent and more likely - just about any town.

    France - getting more common in small towns - most will have internet either in a bar and now lots of internet cafes. I think France is phone line only therefore less likely in remote towns and villages. I did try in a few places this summer and insmall towns quite a few bars and restaurants with wifi but generally secured. You will need to ask for a net key and possibly pay and or
  • Big Red SBig Red S Posts: 26,890
    timandjo wrote:
    Just need a wifi dongle or RJ45 cable

    Or the Wifi capability built into the EeePC?
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Be warned that the 3G/HSDPA option is likely to be pricey. When I looked into this for France, you coulc only get a dongle if you took out an 18-month contract. (It may be that there are some PAYG operators that I've missed out on). Wifi is likely to be your best option.
  • Many thanks for the comments and info.

    I'm wondering which Eee PC to buy and see there's a new model out here very soon - see below: Can anyone suggest the one I should go for?...

    http://tw.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24& ... odelmenu=2
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,666
    I don't know so much about Europe, but in Canada the most likely place to get on the internet, aside from cyber cafes, was in local libraries - usually a small fee, but very good VFM.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    cycladelic wrote:
    Many thanks for the comments and info.

    I'm wondering which Eee PC to buy and see there's a new model out here very soon - see below: Can anyone suggest the one I should go for?...

    http://tw.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24& ... odelmenu=2

    There seem to be a growing number of competitors to the Asus so you might want to look at other brands as well. For example, the Acer AspireOne is a very nice machine - if you can get used to the irritating positioning of the 'mouse' buttons.

    If you're not travelling until next year, I'd hang on as long as possible - as Asus responds to the competition.
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    A good tip in France is to stay the night at a Campanile. Cheap, clean motel style accommodation but, best of all, they give you free wifi access in your room. Otherwise, I have sometimes found it quite hard to get connected in France, which really surprises me as they are generally such a progressive country when it comes to technology.


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • xiliosxilios Posts: 170
    cycladelic wrote:
    Many thanks for the comments and info.

    I'm wondering which Eee PC to buy and see there's a new model out here very soon - see below: Can anyone suggest the one I should go for?...

    http://tw.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24& ... odelmenu=2

    I bought the 901 with xp installed a couple months ago and am very happy with it. I have to admit that there are limits as to what you can do with it. One site you can check out for more tips is http://forum.eeeuser.com/index.php
    We were thinking of going with the larger eee1000 but we thought it best to stick to something small that could easily fit in our panniers, after all you might want to get a hard cover for it, preferably water proof which would add to the size.
    I have removed a lot of the preinstlled ms software and installed truecrypt which I highly recomend.
  • FloodcpFloodcp Posts: 190
    I hate to say it but McDonalds is good for free WIFI access.
    I used my laptop in several McD's in France without any problems

    Flood
  • I agree with Flood - McD's are great for wifi - the one in Chamonix had wifi for free and i used it most days this summer for the price of a coffee or a mcflurry....
    I previously used my Vodafone 3G/HSDPA dongle and it costs something like £7.50/mb abroad - big mistake!!! With regards to the Asus EEE, I bought the black 4G earlier this year and bought 2 separate 8Gb SD cards - its perfect in everyway. It dual boots into either Ubuntu Linux or XP.... do it!!!
  • Cheers. I'm not sure how many McDs I'll come across, but will ceratainly bear in mind they have free wifi. Over here, you have to prepay at the local version of BT to log on at McDs and Starbucks etc.
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • GyatsoLaGyatsoLa Posts: 667
    andymiller wrote:
    cycladelic wrote:
    Many thanks for the comments and info.

    I'm wondering which Eee PC to buy and see there's a new model out here very soon - see below: Can anyone suggest the one I should go for?...

    http://tw.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24& ... odelmenu=2

    There seem to be a growing number of competitors to the Asus so you might want to look at other brands as well. For example, the Acer AspireOne is a very nice machine - if you can get used to the irritating positioning of the 'mouse' buttons.

    If you're not travelling until next year, I'd hang on as long as possible - as Asus responds to the competition.

    According to a techie friend of mine, next year there will be a host of new mini-pc's from the big names with the Intel Atom as Acer and Asus have been so successful. Dell already have one. So I imagine that will increase the choice and bring down the prices, if you can wait that long.

    I can't comment on the individual versions, but it seems to me that one of the biggest differences is the operating systems. The Linux ones are tempting because of the low prices, but I think you have to be a bit of a techie to take advantage of them - there is a good article on it here:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2202664/

    From the ones I've tried in the shops, the Eee's are a bit better built and more user friendly than the Acer ones, but they are more costly. The new Dell one looks nice but they don't seem to have a good compact travel case for them yet - that would be a deal killer for me.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    GyatsoLa wrote:
    I can't comment on the individual versions, but it seems to me that one of the biggest differences is the operating systems. The Linux ones are tempting because of the low prices, but I think you have to be a bit of a techie to take advantage of them - there is a good article on it here:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2202664/

    From the ones I've tried in the shops, the Eee's are a bit better built and more user friendly than the Acer ones, but they are more costly. The new Dell one looks nice but they don't seem to have a good compact travel case for them yet - that would be a deal killer for me.

    I'll have to check out the article. I tried the Acer one in a shop. It was surprisingly slick (I'm a Linux sceptic) apart from the ergonomics of the trackpad buttons. It looked like it would do all the basic stuff (email, web-browsing, word-processing) out of the box, but the thought crossed my mind - what about a RAW viewer for checking photos? The thought of finding and installing a Linux RAW viewer is almost enough to send me reaching for the Windows XP comfort blanket (though maybe I'm just being a techno-wuss).

    Edit: it looks like there are a couple of Linux-compatible RAW viewing/editing programs (Bibble and RAWStudion). Though you need to tweak the LinPus operating system on the AcerOne to install software. There also seems to be lots of advice on the user forums - even people installing Ubuntu/Windows XP and OSX side-by-side. I guess if you've got the time (and a ready supply of valium) anything is possible.
  • satanassatanas Posts: 1,303
    GyatsoLa wrote:
    The Linux ones are tempting because of the low prices, but I think you have to be a bit of a techie to take advantage of them...

    Be aware that anything other than wireless access can be a major problem with the Linux eepc as there are few - if any- Linux-compatible USB modems out there. I've also had problems with the software upgrade mechanism. Much as I hate to say it, life will probably be easier if you stick with Windows XP, and any problems will be easier to resolve.

    If you are a Linux guru, ignore all this.

    Definitely get the larger screen if thinking of the eepc or you will spend all your time scrolling up, down and sideways.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    satanas wrote:
    GyatsoLa wrote:
    The Linux ones are tempting because of the low prices, but I think you have to be a bit of a techie to take advantage of them...

    Be aware that anything other than wireless access can be a major problem with the Linux eepc as there are few - if any- Linux-compatible USB modems out there. I've also had problems with the software upgrade mechanism. Much as I hate to say it, life will probably be easier if you stick with Windows XP, and any problems will be easier to resolve.

    If you are a Linux guru, ignore all this.

    Definitely get the larger screen if thinking of the eepc or you will spend all your time scrolling up, down and sideways.

    I think the postion is changing. There are Linux drivers for the Huawei modems (and heaven knows - he said speaking from bitter experience - they couldn't be worse than the one Huawei itself put out for the Mac). There are now netbooks with built-in modems. So if you can afford to be patient and wait a bit, I'm sure that there will be an off-the-shelf linux product that does everything out of the box.
  • I've just bought the new S101 - on special offer here - and it seems the bee's knees.
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    cycladelic wrote:
    I've just bought the new S101 - on special offer here - and it seems the bee's knees.
    Planning on getting one post Xmas. Please let us know how you find it..
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • GyatsoLaGyatsoLa Posts: 667
    Oh, the s101 looks lovely, I might be very tempted when I visit Taipei!
  • I am definitely buying either a s101 or Samsung NC10 in the new year. Will use it mainly for uploading and viewing photos on my Oz tour.

    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/234621/samsung-nc10.html
  • nunnun Posts: 434
    I'm writing this reply on a Linux eeepc 901 from a bagel shop in the US. It works really well. I store photos on a USB memory stick and the 20GB solid state drive is great, fast to boot and there are no delicate moving parts. Definitely go with a 8.9" screen as the 10" models are just that bit big to carry around on tour.

    The iphone is another option. It will do 80% of what i do on the eeePC.
  • nun wrote:

    The iphone is another option. It will do 80% of what i do on the eeePC.

    Would have to be very careful about roaming charges if touring abroad, of course.
  • nunnun Posts: 434
    nun wrote:

    The iphone is another option. It will do 80% of what i do on the eeePC.

    Would have to be very careful about roaming charges if touring abroad, of course.

    Yes turn off the 3G stuff and only do data on WIFI
  • Ref mobile phones: Is it poss' to get a SIM card that's okay for various countries, or do you have to get one for each?
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    cycladelic wrote:
    Ref mobile phones: Is it poss' to get a SIM card that's okay for various countries, or do you have to get one for each?

    It depends. If you're going to be in a country for a while, or making a lot of calls, then a PAYG SIM from a local operator could be worthwhile - otherwise an international card is probably going to be the best bet.
  • I'll just need it to book hotels really and plan to be in:

    France for 4 weeks

    Spain for 3 weeks

    Norway for 3-4 weeks

    UK & Rep of Ireland for 3-4 weeks
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    It's a bit of a how-long-is-apiece-of-string question, but to give you an idea.

    In the UK you can get a SIM for nothing but SFAIK the minimum amount of credit you can put on is £10. You should be able to get 20p/minute for UK calls and no time limit on the credit.

    In France you can get a SIM from SFR (just to take one well-known example - there may well be cheaper options if you shop around) for 30€ (15€ online) and the minimum credit to last a month will cost 30€. Their Standard tariff for calls within metropolitan France is 55 cents a minute - less at evenings and weekends

    By way of comparison I've seen International SIMs offering a rate of 1€/minute.

    I suspect (but I could well be wrong) that if you're a relatively light user then the savings may not outweigh the extra hassle - bear in mind also that an international card means you keep the same number throughout the trip.
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