Staying connected when in the US — 4 Comments

  1. Free WiFi is widely available in restaurants, hotel lobbies, and other places so it’s easy to get access. I doubt the Boingo $4.95 is going to get you much more than you can do for yourself. IMHO you absolutely should use a VPN when using a public WiFi network. I’ve been happy with Private Internet Access (but I’m an Android guy, no experience using it with iOS).

    I don’t have a mobile hotspot device these days but I had one for a long time and Jeanne uses hers a lot. Mine was slower than my home WiFi connection but quite adequate for email, IM, terminal emulation and other essentially text type tasks. I don’t know how well it would have worked for video, I never tried it. The main downside is that the speed is quite variable depending on your location. Since it appears you can get one cheap and without a long term contract, I think that might be a good option.

    One possibility you didn’t mention is using a hotspot application on your phone, that’s what I do these days. I believe the phone hotspot is technically a bit slower than the dedicated device but I have never noticed any difference. The same location-based speed issues apply. Using a phone hotspot would require that your US phone be a smartphone and there’s an extra charge unless you are rooted (and even then it’s against your carrier’s rules). I think I pay Verizon an extra $10 per month for the hotspot capability.

  2. In that case I would think an inexpensive hotspot device is your best option. Unless you need serious bandwidth, as in watching movies, I think you’ll be fine with it. I would send you my old one, but I think it’s only 3G and I’m sure newer versions are a lot faster.

  3. Yes, you’re probably right. The hotspot is probably the least expensive alternative overall. It’s probably a waste to dive into a new iPad at the moment. I do calculate that between my iPad 4, iPad 2, and iPad one I should be able to get one of the iPad air models without laying out extra money though. However, there is that extra cellular contract that I would have to deal with going forward. Unless I cancel the contract then there’s a cancellation penalty. The data contract system is a little crazy in Japan even when your device is paid off. I don’t know why they don’t let you just turn on and off the contract whenever you need it, especially since there’s no subsidy.

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