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Okotoks Camper

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Okotoks, Alberta
As we get ready to retire & hit the road (fifteen working days. Yahoo! ;D 8), I've been looking at ways to communicate using Internet and EMail. I don't want to buy a satellite system until I:

1. Determine if the full time life suits us and
2. Have a chance to talk with Ron at Quartzite next Jan. (You are planning to go aren't you, Ron?)

I've been looking at an HP iPaq PDA with Windows OS. There's a pretty good sale on now. My thinking is that I could use it with Rogers Wireless in Canada and swap Sim Cards (buy one from Cingular) in the U.S.

Has anyone tried using an iPaq for email and Internet browsing? Please respond with info and advice.

Thanks,
John B.
 

Bob Zambenini

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calgary camper said:
Has anyone tried using an iPaq for email and Internet browsing? Please respond with info and advice.

Thanks,
John B.

My son is a big IPAQ user with his work and his personal info. He has a sniffer card in it so he can easily see wireless access points and get on interent.

I have been with him on some trips both in US and overseas and used his IPAQ to get my email and use a little internet, like checking airline flight status. Its a little cumbersome with an old guy with glasses but I could use it for what I needed.

He carries a lot of info and on our trip though Italy he had all his music and with headphones which gave him good music for those long train rides.

He also had a large library of photos which we showed our Italian family and it was very functional for them to view.

I can't really believe who much info it holds. He has a lot of state and federal regs on it and showed my how he uses this data base in meetings.

On the down side, you really need to back the thing up as he as been through two or three of these IPAQs and had problems and had to send them back. He upgraded one I know of, but he is a power user, carrying the thing on his belt holster and using it a lot all day and night.

From the two or three years I have seen him use it, I would highlty recommend it as a PDA.

I have thought of getting one but have not really found I needed it!

Bob
 

Okotoks Camper

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Bob Zambenini said:
My son is a big IPAQ user with his work and his personal info. He has a sniffer card in it so he can easily see wireless access points and get on internet.

Bob, from the quote above, you seem to be saying that this can use WIFI like a laptop? Is this true? I was planning on using only the cell type connection.

Cheers,
John B.
 

Ned

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I have a Palm TX with a relatively large screen and I don't find it usable for any extensive web browsing.  It's ok for email but don't expect to handle large attachments.

It also has a WiFi adapter so I could use it with hotspots, but that's just another method of connecting to the internet.  I would suggest a notebook with an Aircard for better usability.  Also, Cingular has probably the worst data service coverage among the cellular carriers.  Sprint or Verizon would serve you better.
 

Okotoks Camper

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Thanks Ned.

The aircard is a definite possibility. I can use the Sim Card thing with it too. I assume Sprint & Verizon offer Sim cards too? The roaming charge in the U.S. for Rogers Wireless is $10/Meg. That's too rich for my blood.

John B.
 

Ned

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Sprint and Verizon use a CDMA system so they don't need SIM cards.  Both offer unlimited data plans for $60-70month.  You can check the respective web sites for the details.
 

Bob Zambenini

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calgary camper said:
Bob, from the quote above, you seem to be saying that this can use WIFI like a laptop? Is this true? I was planning on using only the cell type connection.

Cheers,
John B.

Yes, he comes here and logs on my network and sits in den and checks his email and is on interent. But like Ned says its not the greatest for web page browsing. He is pretty good with moving around but I found it difficult.

We were in one airport that had good free wifi and had a long wait for flight so I used it quite a bit that day, like with news interent pages.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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A suitable digital cell phone with a PC makes a pretty good connection - I need my internet fix daily and get along fine that way. I'm a Verizon subscriber but Sprint, Cingular/AT&T and even T-Mobile work fine too.  And now I can often get wifi connections in campgrounds, rest areas and such.  I can't think of any reason to limit oneself to a PDA when a laptop PC (or Mac) is so portable and easy to use. Prices have become reasonable now - you can get a perfectly adequate one for around $700 or so.
 

joelmyer

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What Gary said

I bought a PDA a few years back and never got past the toy stage with it.  I couldn't see traveling without a laptop.
 

Okotoks Camper

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Based on the reponses so far, I may have given the wrong impression. I'm not looking to replace the laptop with the PDA, just thought it might be convenient for email & online bill paying etc. I think the laptop is great, but was thinking about access where WIFI is not available.

Another question for the experienced PDA users, how is the download speed when you access a page/check email? Are we talking dialup speeds? If that's the case I may as well use the laptop/cell phone combo, I guess. What do you think?

Cheers,
John B.
 

Ned

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The speed on the PDA will be a function of the internet connection.  If you're wirelessly connected to a broadband connection, then it will be just as fast as on the computer.
 

Jeff

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Until six weeks ago I used a Palm Treo 650 as PDA and as a modem for my laptop. If we were away from the coach for the day I would use Palm to see if there was mail or to check specific flight info, etc. The rest of the time the Palm was used in place of an aircard as a modem for my laptop.

PDA is not a replacement for laptop connected to Internet. I cancelled data service when I purchased DirectWay and applied 45.00 towards DW service costs. When I need a modem connection I have my wife's phone and MOK.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I think the laptop is great, but was thinking about access where WIFI is not available.

If a PDA can get online, so can a laptop. The laptop is not limited to wifi - use a cell phone as a modem for that as well.  Quite a few cell phones are "data capable", menaing they can function as a digital modem.
 

AlGriefer

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T-mobile had an unlimited data plan for $29.95/month for a dedicated card like Sierra Wireless or Sony Ericsson.  Those cards use SIMs and will work in a laptop or an iPAQ, though, if you have a laptop already, why bother with the iPAQ?  Coverage is very good, and, if you do have some signal problems, there are amplifiers available.  If you add internet access to your phone and connect that to your laptop, the unlimited plan was $19.95/mo

If I remember correctly, roaming in Canada is $.01/KB and can add up very quickly (ask Tom!)

T-mobile changes their plans frequently so these prices may no longer be accurate.

Al
 

Tom

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AlGriefer said:
If I remember correctly, roaming in Canada is $.01/KB and can add up very quickly (ask Tom!)

Don't remind me Al! Online coverage in Canada was great, but the Canada roaming bill sure hurt when we got home. Looks like our $29.95 "unlimited internet" plan costs new subscribers $49.99. But the coverage across North America has been nothing short of excellent.

BTW did you get to keep the $29.95 rate when you upgraded to Edge and the GC89 card?
 

AlGriefer

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Tom said:
Don't remind me Al! Online coverage in Canada was great, but the roaming bill sure hurt when we got home. Looks like our $29.95 "unlimited internet" plan costs new subscribers $49.99. But the coverage across North America has been nothing short of excellent.

BTW did you get to keep the $29.95 rate when you upgraded to Edge and the GC89 card?

I wasn't sure about the rates, but now that I look at it, it looks like the $49.95 rate includes unlimited access to T-mobile wifi hotspots, too.

There was no change in costs, at least as yet.  I just pulled the SIM from the Aircard and inserted it in the GC89.

Al
 

Tom

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AlGriefer said:
I just pulled the SIM from the Aircard and inserted it in the GC89.

HFWPOH - of course, the SIM cards are what are activated.

BTW I originally had the $19.95 add-on service, which meant sharing the SIM card between the phone and the air card. That lasted about a week before I activated a separate SIM card.
 

Griff

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I have Sprint service and previously used my cell and a data cable...it worked decent but the aircard is much more convenient...and I will not go back!  If you do use sprint, make sure you get the EVDO card as there are still a few of the old cards out there.  The speed with the EVDO is phenomenal.  There are still a few non EVDO areas ( I live in one) but they are being upgraded at a rapid pace!

Verizon has a comparable plan and system and has better coverage in some parts of the country. 
 

Okotoks Camper

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Okotoks, Alberta
Well, I decided not to get the PDA. I already have a Palm Tungsten E and the convenience of the HP iPaq was questionable since I already have a laptop (as RV Roamer pointed out).

I am only five days from retirement, but they've asked me to stay on a contract basis for a month. This is putting our trips and the laptop rebuild on hold for a while, but money is money and the contract rate is a lot better than my salary.

Cheers,
John B.
 
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