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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 12 Jul 2012
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Best way of keeping touch with home?

Hi,

Just wondering how everyone keeps in contact with home while they're exploring our planet. I don't fancy lugging a full size laptop around the world but I would like to write a blog, include lots of pictures as well as the usual emails and phone/skype calls.
Has anyone tried this with just an iphone?

Thanks

Shay
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  #2  
Old 13 Jul 2012
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I've tried using an iphone. OK for short emails, but blogging is too much like hard work. Fat fingers, small screen, touch-screen - not a good combination.

Perhaps you could consider a netbook? I had an Acer D250 which worked well on the road. Fitted easily in the tankbag, and the only drawback were the small keyboard and the shallow screen. It was a bit like viewing the web through a letterbox, but I got used to it, and in fact it was my main computer for about a year. Neat little thing, 10" screen and total size not much bigger than a book. It cost a little over 200 UKP.

You can also use it to back up your camera and free up the memory cards if you are on a long trip.
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Old 13 Jul 2012
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What about power? Did you plug into your bike's electrics or have to find power sockets wherever you went?
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Old 13 Jul 2012
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what about this

take a look at this youtube vid, this guy's using a galaxy note as a pc, he uses a small external keyboard with a track pad and you can fit a mouse if you like. Internet accsses via wifi or 3g. It also has built in gps (i use my galaxy s2 for this and it works really well) you can use maps off line too, another thing is the built in camera takes nice images and the video capture at 1920x1080 compares very favorably with consumer type camcorder.The downside to all this functionality is all your eggs are in one basket and they are quite expensive

link - Using The Galaxy Note As A Computer (With Accessories) - YouTube
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  #5  
Old 13 Jul 2012
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I have a small net book. The make is not important as they are more or less all the same. A few bob on a mouse and she work's a treat. I did get an extra stand alone hard drive of 1 tr. Just load the book up with film and pictures from my two cameras. When it is full, down load on to the hard drive. On the understanding that if I lose the net book. It can be replaced, the film and pictures can't. Keep the hard drive tucked away safe if I can.
John933
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  #6  
Old 13 Jul 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sennen View Post
What about power? Did you plug into your bike's electrics or have to find power sockets wherever you went?
Iphone - got a lead to connect to the bike's power outlet. Always on charge when on the move, because the battery life is abysmal.

Netbook - waited until I had mains power (hotels/guest houses) to recharge. I got the optional larger battery with the Acer, and it as good for 5-6 hours per charge, which I thought was pretty good. As long as I could borrow a mains socket every 2-3 days, I was fine.

+1 to John933 about backup storage. Eventually the netbook's HDD died and took about 12 months' worth of pictures with it. I treated the netbook as the backup, but failed to back up the backup. A 2.5" SATA drive in an enclosure is very compact, and I would take one next time, sealed in a water/dustproof bag and protected from vibration and impacts.
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  #7  
Old 14 Jul 2012
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Pay phone and a card. Email from free or pay computers. I cary a small lap top much of the. Many places I ride do not work for cell phone so I stoped using them.
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  #8  
Old 14 Jul 2012
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I am using mainly Skype on my laptop.
I have also prepaid SIM card from TravelSIM.
This way I have one phone number where my friends and family can reach me.

Br,
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  #9  
Old 14 Jul 2012
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we carry an EEpc of Asus with us, beefed up with a 500GB harddrive and 2GB of ram. Using it to prepare website updates, and it can just (but only just...) handle HD video-editing for youtube-uploads. (be aware, you need 1025x768 resolution for this mostly!)
I wouldn't want to travel without it, as it has 200GB of movies on and that is nice if you camp and it is dark 12 hours a day.
We can charge it on the bike (the asus uses a 12V input, which makes the chargers cheap) and be aware: buy a 12V charger which can not handle 24volts too. If the can handle both, the voltage drop in the charger is bigger (more electronics) and this resulted in a charger which only worked with the engine running. The 'only-12-volt' one we have can handle 2 to 3 full laptop charges on a parked bike.... although we had to pushstart the bike 3 times on the trip now after watching too many movies :-P.

Contact with family: skype rocks!

We also make backups via internet, and in 14 months, 47.000km's Canada to Argentina, we managed to upload ALL our movies and pictures... 65GB in total via Dropbox, really nice and for free. You do need a good friend in your home country who is online a lot to download all the stuff you've uploaded.
Friends of ours have lost ALL their pictures... so please, MAKE BACKUPS to your home country or something as often as possible
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Old 14 Jul 2012
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Thanks for all of your suggestions - I hadn't thought about how I was going to re-charge the device!
I was thinking of backing-up to a 'cloud' every few days or whenever I can access the internet to save carrying a back-up drive - has anyone tried this? I'll look into dropbox as well.
A netbook seems to be the way to go as the proven travel gadget and a travel SIM card with a separate phone, just in case. The Galaxy Note does look tempting and the salesman in the shop also assured me it will do everything, and the same with the ipad.
But I don't know of anyone who has used these on the road instead of a laptop.

Shay
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  #11  
Old 14 Jul 2012
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Another good point a friend made was trying to follow a repair manual on a netbook in the middle of nowhere is a lot easier than it would have been on a phone. Point well made.
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  #12  
Old 14 Jul 2012
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Yeh a big smartphone would be great until it bricks itself; on the other hand most laptops still have moving parts (in the HD) and so more at risk of breaking.

Perhaps a small netbook with an SSD and a huge battery life and 12v input would do the business. Does such a holy grail exist?

for backups you an also get pretty high capacity SD cards or USB drives - 32 GB or 64 GB ones aren't that pricey. A couple of those would be easy to store and keep safe and once again, no moving parts.
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