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Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Santa Cruz, CA
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Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Our daughter will be volunteering in Tanzania for 2 months starting in March. We want to purchase a 10" tablet like the Windows Surface Pro with full USB port for her to take over. She will need to access email to contact and reply to grad schools while she's there. She does not have a cell phone with SIM cards. When she's there, can she purchase a "stick" or modem device and a certain amount of minutes or megabytes or whatever they call it to put into the USB port to access the Internet on a tablet like the one I mentioned? In other words, she doesn't need a tablet that has to use SIM cards? We don't want to buy her something that won't work. The whole idea is for her to have access where she's staying so she can read and reply to these various grad schools. It's crucial that she has a connection. Is this something that she will simply insert into the USB port? Please advise! Thanks!

Arusha
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1. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Yes you can buy a modem which you insert into the USB port. In the modem there is a SIM card and you can buy bundles for internet.

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Check with a good computer shop that sells and knows that tablet and whether it has the capacity for that kind of usb connection. For example, some tablets can't support an external hard drive. But for the internet dongle (that is what they are called) it might run fine. Just check.

Where exactly is she volunteering as location might dictate reliability of the dongle. It is not a foolproof set up. She can buy an i expensive open cell phone with sim and time cards while there. In fact, she will need one. That is how they communicate and very useful when volunteering. If she is in a big town like Moshi or Arusha, then the dongle works great, but before she buys her own, then she should find out if the volunteer house offers wifi from their internet system. I could buy an hour or week's use much less expensively than a dongle.

Findlay, Ohio
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3. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

The Windows Surface Pro will work fine for her (with the windows 8 operating system, you might want to make certain of the operating system, the windows surface pro also comes with an RT operating system, which will not run programs which are not made for the RT operating system). This is an important consideration on the operating systems, the RT operating system Surface Pro is quite a bit less money, but will also be restricted in the programs she can run. If you get the Windows 8 operating system Surface Pro it will run any program that you can run on your PC Desktop, not so with the RT operating system.

She should go to the vodacom or altel phone shop and get the dongle modem which will plug into her USB port and give her a wireless Internet connection. The cost for this dongle USB connection used to be quite costly (I got one for a tad over $100 some time ago) but they have come down in price considerably. Don't know what the current cost is.

This tablet will then be able to connect to the internet. There will be Skype already loaded on the tablet so she can call you via Skype, and you will be able to see her and know that she is OK. That would be a free call to skype on your computer. This tablet also has a digital camera on it.

I have a Dell tablet which is a clone of a surface pro, with a windows 8 operating system, and it will work fine on the internet, except quite a bit less money and features.

Edited: 8:03 am, January 31, 2014
Santa Cruz, CA
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4. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

@Quiltingmamma----She'll be in Moshi. And, yes, she plans on buying a cheap phone over there, too. They don't have wifi in the hostel where she'll be staying. And, she doesn't want to use unreliable Internet cafes in town.Thank you! We'll make sure whatever we buy will support the Internet dongle.

Santa Cruz, CA
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5. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Thank you. I take it the modem is a dongle like was mentioned below. Almost like a flash drive type device?

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Yes, dongle is a common (non North American) term for USB Flash Drive/Memory Stick...

When I was volunteering there almost 2 years ago, a dongle was too expensive for a month's volunteering...well over $100 just to set up not including time, but for a young person applying for college and keeping touch with home, most likely worth it.

Edited: 12:40 pm, January 31, 2014
Santa Cruz, CA
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7. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Thank you, Karl! I'm going to share all this information with my daughter and husband. He just bought HIMSELF the Windows 8 Surface Pro (not RT) last night. All this research on tablets with USB ports made him realize that HE wanted one, too! :) Like you mentioned, he wanted the operating system that would allow more programs, etc. Yes, it wasn't cheap by the time he bought a small keyboard. But, he said since our daughter is graduating a quarter early from college, we'll be saving a chunk of change. So, this little tablet might be a nice gift that will be good in Moshi, as well as grad school. Now that we know it will work over there, he'll probably go ahead and buy it. You mentioned the Dell which is cheaper, but with less features. Which features, exactly?

All of your replies have been very helpful and this is just the type of information we wanted! Thanks once again!

Ottawa, Canada
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8. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Ensure she locks it up each and every time. The premise is often, don't take what you can't afford to lose, but sometimes you have to.

Findlay, Ohio
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9. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

The Dell is a smaller unit overall with an 8" screen. It has a slot for a SD device for additional storage capacity, like up to 64 or 128GB storage (somewhat like having more hard disk storage). The Dell only has one USB port and that is also used for charging the battery. Great long lasting battery life, like 10 hours, which is similar to the Windows Surface. Neither will have a CD drive, you can easily use cloud storage for this, just a tad slower. There probably is/will be a full sized keyboard, but I find the on-screen keyboard just as useful for what I use it for. My use is that I develop some data management software systems on it, but by having the windows operating system I do the heads down work on my desktop and transfer it to the tablet to see how it will operate there, then tweak it of course.

Other manufacturers who are now making tablets which have the Windows 8 operating systems loaded on them are: Toshiba, Asus, Dell has the Venture 8 and 11, HP Omni, HP Split X2, Lenovo Miix, Nokia Lumia, Samsung ATIV, and there might be some others; all with different features, and of course price points.

It will work great for your daughter (if she will be able to pry it out of your husband's hands). I know what you mean by finishing up early, my one son finished up his undergraduate work a year and a half early and now has his doctorate (DVM) without any intervening degrees (and his dad was very happy, especially since he had two other siblings in college at the same time).

By all means make certain that she understands that things not tied down there tend to grow legs and disappear. But this is small enough that she will be able to keep it in her backpack wherever she goes, and weighing in at 2 lbs she will hardly notice it in the backpack; and it would probably help if she had a lock on the backpack where it is kept.

Edited: 3:00 pm, January 31, 2014
Santa Cruz, CA
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10. Re: Need advice about tablet with USB port for Internet access

Wow! You're a walking encyclopedia! Thank you. By the way, is the USB port a full size port or mini port on the Dell? Can a mini port support a dongle flash drive for data like what you mentioned above? She can Skype on it, as well? My husband said maybe he doesn't need to spend the money on a Windows Surface Pro 2 if he can get a less expensive device. Again, her biggest concern is that she can get online and reply to email. Skype, too. And, the Dell has been reliable?

Congratulations to your son! He's a veterinarian? Good for him!