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Internet access for..."netbooks"

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Internet access for..."netbooks"

Postby leaftye » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:47 pm

I'm bringing along a tiny tabletpc on my hike. It's not actually a netbook. It's a real computer, just tiny. Terminology aside...

I sure could use some recommendations for getting internet access for this thing while I'm on the trail. I'd like it to have cellular data service. I do not have a smart phone. I'm not even sure my phone could act like a modem anyway, and that's not something I'd like to do. I just want to be able to use my computer on the trail, and if I have cellular access, I want to be able to flip the wireless switch and connect. So here's what I'd like:

1. <$50 a month
2. No long term contract
3. Cellular access for the computer without the phone

I've heard different options like a computer data plan, getting a data plan for the phone and throwing the sim card in the computer, using the phone as a modem and probably a couple other plans. I think the first plan sounds like what I want, but I think that's above what I'd like to pay.

Sorry for the rambling. I'm pretty dumb when it comes to cell phones. I've never wanted "smart" anything when it comes to phones, and I've pretty much kept myself in the dark when it comes to cell phones and cellular services.

Okay, I'll shut up now. Please help if you can.
Sir Mix-a-lot
www.eugeneleafty.com
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Postby Miner » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:47 pm

What you are looking for is a USB aircard from either Verizon or AT&T (those two have the best coverage) that plugs into your computer and uses the cellular network. At least with Verizon, you shouldn't need a contract but you will have to buy the aircard. I know people who travel in the summer in RVs who use them for a few months and then turn off their service for the rest of the year.

However, I don't think you'll get enough cell coverage to justify what you want to do. Halfmile has been collecting cell coverage from hikers so check it out: http://www.pctmap.net/cell/index.html

I bounced a netbook every 1-2weeks up the trail and used it in town and found it really nice to have. I normally had wi-fi access in town; usually at the hotel/trail angels and the occasional coffee house. My smartphone has internet access, but I only used it maybe 3 times on the trail.
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Postby leaftye » Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:05 pm

Oops, I just realized the little computer I'm getting doesn't have a built-in aircard. Not a big deal, especially if this is how much it'd cost for service:
http://cheapaircards.com/plans.php

Does that look like what I'd have to get? There's no way I'd do it at that price, especially since I have no need for service after the trip, and all these plans mention contracts. I assume going without a contract is more expensive. Oh wait, I see that Verizon does indeed do month-to-month, but it seems that I have to order one of their $100+ aircards to do it.

Wifi is probably good enough, but it'd be nice to have cellular access so I can update my journal more easily and frequently. Other ideas?
Sir Mix-a-lot
www.eugeneleafty.com
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Location: San Diego, CA

Postby Miner » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:34 pm

You don't need to sign up for a plan. Many resellers make their profit on selling contracts and don't offer month to month plans, so keep shoping. Or just go to Verizon or AT&T directly. I you don't want a plan, you will have to buy the modem at full price rather then the discounts which will force you into a plan.

For instance, Verizon's website, for their Mobile Broadband service, has $129 USB modem that is $10 with a 2yr plan, or the full $129 for month to month. If you buy your computer with a built in aircard then you don't have to buy one of these, but you will be forced into one carrier or another for the life of that computer.
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Postby leaftye » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:04 pm

It's totally not worth going that way. What about using my cellphone as a modem. What does that entail?
Sir Mix-a-lot
www.eugeneleafty.com
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Location: San Diego, CA

Postby DoctorSoong » Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:58 am

You might want to check out
http://www.mrsimcard.com/s-att.html
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Postby Miner » Sun Mar 14, 2010 1:50 pm

leaftye wrote:It's totally not worth going that way. What about using my cellphone as a modem. What does that entail?


You must have a cellphone that can work this way (not all are). IF your current one won't work, then you are stuck buying a new one or signnig a contract. Don't ask someone who is trying to sell you a cell phone if your current one will work as they may *gasp* lie to sell you something.

You need to add a data plan to your service. Make sure they understand that you want to use it attached to a laptop and not for use as a smartphone (ie. internet on your phone). Make sure you don't allow a pushy salesperson to get you into a contract but want a temporary service on a month to month basis ontop of your existing voice plan (not instead of it).

As for how much it will cost you will likely depend on whatever plan you currently have. As its carrier specific you are better off checking out the website of whoever your service is with or calling them.
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