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Choices for cell and wifi - for remote booning


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We've been on the road for about 7 months, loving it, and now working on finer points, like better communication options. Presently we have Verizon jetpack for wifi for our 2 computers, and use about 12G a month - which runs about $90. We also have a smart Trackfone with no contract that runs us about $10 month, just to have a phone number when needed.

 

Our internet use (FB, blogging, surfing) is about 2 hours a day for my wife, and 1.5 hr a day for me. A neighbor just told us he uses a Verizon smart phone, which creates its own hotspot, and that it is much more efficient data user than the jetpack. Only trouble w that for us would be we often use computers at the same time, and I don't think we could do that with a smart phone hot spot.

 

We're wanting to explore options here - not in any contracts. Wondering if it would make sense and save $ to go with the smart phone hotspot and just alternate our internet time? Any other suggestions?

 

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Our Verizon smart phones - both of us have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 now - can easily tether more than one device using the FoxFi tethering application. But with the large size of the Note 3's screen we don't find the need to do that as much as we used to (I started using the FoxFi tethering app years ago).

 

But your system is probably cheaper in the long run. We are at $140 a month for two phones but we don't have much of a choice right now. The DW uses her smartphone to take credit cards during her summer business (a hot dog cart at the local farmer's market) and I need mine for my work.

 

We have a Wilson Sleek connected to an external antenna in the RV and are seldom out of range. But if we use the Sleek we have to tether something since that puts the smart phone back in a cradle at the back of the motor home. (The second Note 3 isn't usable since we only use the Sleek if we can't get a decent link without it.)

 

Verizon is pretty much a must for us, too. No other carrier has the coverage.

 

WDR

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Only trouble w that for us would be we often use computers at the same time, and I don't think we could do that with a smart phone hot spot.

 

 

 

A phone as a hotspot can run more than one device. We use our smartphone as a hotspot and both DH and I can be online at the same time. I can also turn on the WiFi for each of our Paperwhites to download books at the same time both computers are online. I think the phone can run at least 5 devices, perhaps more.

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It sounds like that is about as good as you can get. I'm running the same.. a wilson sleek, verizon WAN built in to my laptop with an external repeater and a tracfone (triple minutes for life) for voice. I'm certainly open to new ideas, but thus far I haven't run across anything better. Well.. within what I'm willing to spend on a monthly basis that is. All told.. the Verizon runs $50 a month (data only) and the phone averages out to $7.50. I don't even come close to using up all the minutes with just the basic yearly plan, but they do roll over from year to year. As of today I have a touch over 3800 accumulated minutes. ;)

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Thanks for the info. As always, this forum is a treasure. I plan on helping out here once we're a little more sorted away. :-)

If anything, Charley.. You might consider an omnidirectional external antenna. However, if most of your days are in a CG it's probably not worth the pennies.

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Most of our days are in BLM, Forest service, etc. We do parks when we Must. And some areas are quite remote. Where we are right now, the jetpack gets one bar, but with my Wilson booster and a 12" 3G antennae it's up to 3 bars - OK for FB and email, but even quite slow on FB low def cat videos.

 

If anything, Charley.. You might consider an omnidirectional external antenna. However, if most of your days are in a CG it's probably not worth the pennies.

What does an omni directional look like? Are they the half globe ones I see?

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There are also directional antennas for cell systems. These work in remote areas where there might only be one cell tower quite far away. You can point the antenna at it for better signal. Not a "set and forget" type of antenna but more effective in really isolated areas than a whip (vertical).

 

If there are no cell towers around even a directional (yagi) antenna won't pull a cell tower out of nothing but quite often a directional antenna can make the difference between a connection and nada.

 

WDR

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with my Wilson booster and a 12" 3G antennae it's up to 3 bars - OK for FB and email, but even quite slow on FB low def cat videos.

 

What does an omni directional look like? Are they the half globe ones I see?

Correct. But if you already have a Wilson, I would stick with that. I'm really not too familiar what CG's have to offer... aside from what I read in the threads WDR mentioned. More often than not I end up chucking my Wilson sleek into a nearby tree to get a signal.

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A smartphone can indeed handle multiple devices at once.. it all depends on your needs and tolerances (such as, what if one of you takes off with the smartphone?).

 

Here's our pros/cons articles of MiFi vs. Smartphone hot spotting : MiFi/Jetpack, USB Modem or Smartphone Hotspotting?

Good article. The guy at the Best Buy store (he said he was VERY tech savy and was on the Geek squad) said do not use your smart phone as a hot spot. As you will chew threw the battery and damage the phone. As it heats up and can cause damage. I even think he said the the volume switch tends to break first because of the heat generated. As the phones antenna is by the battery by the switch and when you are online all the time it will over heat causing the switch and other parts to go bad. I call BS on that, what do you all think?

 

This has been my plan when we go full timing hopefully with in the next 60 days. I was going to go with Verizon. 2 smart phone plan with 10 gigs of data. And use one of the phones for a dedicated hot spot when needed. At most we would have two tablets using the wifi.

Or

I was thinking of going with one phone with 10 gigs of data from Verizon and then go with a pay as you go phone(track or something like it) as our second phone. And that should even bring the cost down a little more. As I have read that it will give use better coverage options for calls. Still looking between apply and Droid, but that is another topic in it's self.

 

Please let me know you thoughts.

Thanks

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Good article. The guy at the Best Buy store (he said he was VERY tech savy and was on the Geek squad) said do not use your smart phone as a hot spot. As you will chew threw the battery and damage the phone. As it heats up and can cause damage. I even think he said the the volume switch tends to break first because of the heat generated. As the phones antenna is by the battery by the switch and when you are online all the time it will over heat causing the switch and other parts to go bad. I call BS on that, what do you all think?

 

 

 

Maybe it depends on the phone, but I've been using my smartphone as a hotspot for around two years now without a problem (Motorola Droid Razr HD). It has never overheated and, in fact, doesn't even get warm any more so than just using the phone without being in the hotspot mode. The volume switch still works just fine and, as far as I can tell, the antenna still works the same was as it did when the phone was new.

 

My experience with Best Buy when looking for phones was that they didn't know as much as I did about phones! When I was looking for my first smartphone (the one I currently have), I went to Best Buy and told the guy I wanted a phone that had a good antenna and could be used to make calls at the same time it was being used as a hotspot. He told me there was no phone that could be used to make calls while being used as a hotspot (wrong!) and that there was no way of determining how good the antenna of a particular phone was. I turned around and left the store and went to the kiosk inside Costco to get my phone...where the guy was able to answer both of my questions!

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The guy at the Best Buy store (he said he was VERY tech savy and was on the Geek squad) said do not use your smart phone as a hot spot. As you will chew threw the battery and damage the phone. As it heats up and can cause damage. I even think he said the the volume switch tends to break first because of the heat generated. As the phones antenna is by the battery by the switch and when you are online all the time it will over heat causing the switch and other parts to go bad. I call BS on that, what do you all think?

 

 

Good examples of why I would never use the Geek Squad and prefer not to set foot in a Best Buy, if at all possible. My Galaxy S4 has been our primary hotspot for over a year and its battery (and the phone) work just fine. Yes, it gets somewhat warm when operating as a hotspot but not nearly as warm as it gets when doing turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps. If the phone does overheat it will protect itself by shutting down apps and even turning itself off. It has done that with Google Maps; it have NEVER overheated because of running as a hotspot.

 

If you want to keep it cooler, use an app that closes some of the apps that run in the background. I'm using Greenify and it seems to have made a significant difference in how warm the phone gets.

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Thanks for the feedback. He even stated that going with a tablet would be better to use as a hot spot as it is larger and it does not generate as much heat. Plus as a bonus it was a $10 monthly instead of a $20 monthly. I'm really still bot sent on a phone. I'm thinking of the Iphone 6 or the Galaxy 5. The new Galaxy 6 is not water resistant and you can not updtae the battery if needed or add memory. Not sure if i would need it as this would be my first smart phone. But i do like having options. I guess i need to look at the speed of the phone and see if it is worth jumping to the new 6.

Thanks

Not trying to start a android/Apple war.

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I'd be very wary of any advice from Best Buy, Google up what others think of them.

 

Last time a friend mentioned Best Buy I offered him a 40 pound bag of water softener salt as a single grain of salt isn't enough to go with their usual advice.

 

You can't even trust the equipment they sell, check model numbers very carefully as you may get a "look alike" unit from them that is missing features. Also check the version numbers of any hardware and software as they are not adverse to unloading old stock on folks that aren't very careful. Even with that you still stand the chance of buying a delicate piece of electronics from them that hasn't been cared for and has either frozen or baked in unconditioned transport and storage. Been there done that got laughed at by the warranty guy when the piece of gear was two years past the last manufacture date, also got some controllers that had baked and toasted very expensive lithium batteries that were not warranted due to being abused and of course I couldn't prove who abused them.

 

TL;DR? Best Buy... Nope!

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I agree, Best Buy sometimes serves with a best buy on a sale, and for those that don't like ordering online, they are one of the sources where you can buy local. But I'm astounded by how much they charge for services and extended warranties. (I use square trade if any)

I have to agree that their Geek squad folks are not the most knowledgeable as a group. And BB's sales people seem to not have any interest in the tech they are selling, with no clue to advise on SoCs of newer tablets and hybrids, processors on laptops and desktops, or even basics like HD and SSD tech that they sell. There are always the few exceptions to the rules, but if one needs to know, they can't tell if the sales people there actually do know. For phone and mobile tech you can't beat the resources herein this thread, and Jack Mayers who isn't on it, yet.

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That Best Buy "tech" must have been trying to upsell you into a tablet with a cell phone data plan. Probably most tablets only have a WiFi connection and using one of those to tether your laptop would be fruitless.

 

I like Stanley's salt suggestion.

 

You can safely use your smartphone as a tethering device. Just don't put it under a pillow or keep it in your pocket. At least not when you're tethering. I've used a Droid and a Samsung Note 3 to tether with no issues.

 

WDR

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I've found that techs in Staples, Verizon, Best Buy and the like tend to assume that, because I'm over 70, I must be a technical illiterate. I had a sales guy in a local Verizon store (not a "real" Verizon store but just a store authorized to sell Verizon products but with a huge "VERIZON" sign on the front - you have to watch out for those... the "real" Verizon stores have pretty competent people) tell me I had to turn my Android off now and then to let it "rest" (his exact words).

 

I asked him if he was part of the generation that used electronics technology a lot and he said that, yes, he was. I then told him that I was part of the generation that invented the technology his generation used a lot. :P

 

Our daughter-in-law went in to buy a cell phone from this store that she had just received notice was on sale for half price. "No," she was told. That phone isn't on sale. So she logged onto Amazon in front of him, showed him that it was a Verizon sale, and bought it from Amazon right in front of him... at half price.

 

Not that you can't get bad advice anywhere... but for some reason these "high tech" emporiums seem to have issues.

 

WDR

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It sounds like that is about as good as you can get. I'm running the same.. a wilson sleek, verizon WAN built in to my laptop with an external repeater and a tracfone (triple minutes for life) for voice. I'm certainly open to new ideas, but thus far I haven't run across anything better. Well.. within what I'm willing to spend on a monthly basis that is. All told.. the Verizon runs $50 a month (data only) and the phone averages out to $7.50. I don't even come close to using up all the minutes with just the basic yearly plan, but they do roll over from year to year. As of today I have a touch over 3800 accumulated minutes. ;)

Which phone do you have of theirs? Is there one that rates best out of the ones that they sell?

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I also have used my iPhone for hours and hours without it overheating. If you are worried about this, you could buy a used iPhone 4 from someplace like ebay and use it only for data and tethering.

 

One point is that I cannot talk on my iPhone at the same time I am using it as a data source.

 

I also had a very bad experience at a Verizon "retail" store and now will only go to the Corporate Stores. You can call Verizon to get the locations of those. SOmetimes you can tell it is a retail store by it saying something like it is an authorized retailer or having another name on the sign on front.

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One point is that I cannot talk on my iPhone at the same time I am using it as a data source.

 

 

 

I believe the iPhone has this capability as do most (if not all) Android phones when using a 4G connection.

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I'd be very wary of any advice from Best Buy, Google up what others think of them.

 

Last time a friend mentioned Best Buy I offered him a 40 pound bag of water softener salt as a single grain of salt isn't enough to go with their usual advice.

 

You can't even trust the equipment they sell, check model numbers very carefully as you may get a "look alike" unit from them that is missing features. Also check the version numbers of any hardware and software as they are not adverse to unloading old stock on folks that aren't very careful. Even with that you still stand the chance of buying a delicate piece of electronics from them that hasn't been cared for and has either frozen or baked in unconditioned transport and storage. Been there done that got laughed at by the warranty guy when the piece of gear was two years past the last manufacture date, also got some controllers that had baked and toasted very expensive lithium batteries that were not warranted due to being abused and of course I couldn't prove who abused them.

 

TL;DR? Best Buy... Nope!

My daughter had a pc that was malfunctioning. She called the Geek Squad and described the symptoms. OVER THE PHONE they diagnosed the problem as a virus and it would cost about $500 for them to fix. She called me and I opened the tower box, reseated a loose board and "problem solved". Great company!

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