Posts Tagged ‘travel’
It’s vacation time! Get ready to lovingly bubble wrap that tablet, gently pack that smartphone into its case and stock up on a myriad of chargers. Technology withdrawal is no laughing matter. (Trust us, we know.)
Yes. And a voltage converter plug too.
Clothes are always a good idea. So is bringing an adapter plug for your tech gear. (Afterall, martphones do not run on oxygen.) In the UK, we have 3 pin sockets that run on a different voltage to US electrical items.
American smartphones are usually 115v products, but UK sockets are 240v. Iif you have a 240v smartphone, you need to purchase a 2 pin to 3 pin voltage converter plug - not just a regular one – or you risk blowing fuses in your expensive hotel room.
No. Just because Nyan cat says so, doesn’t make it right.
Listen up, this is very important. Turn off data roaming before boarding that plane. Please do it. Oh please. If you don’t turn your GSM smartphone off, it will automatically connect to the most appropriate UK mobile network as soon as one becomes available, and pump out all the lovely interwebs juice you usually inject into Facebook, Song Pop and Sound Cloud.
Settings > general > network > data roaming – toggle to off.
Settings > mobile network > data roaming - untick it.
Settings > Mobile Network > Data Roaming Options – tap ‘don’t roam’.
Menu > settings > networks and connections > mobile network – set ‘While Roaming’ to off.
Your smartphone is simply bursting with stuff that’s important to you, from contacts whose numbers you never bothered to learn, to photos of that thing that happened that one time which nobody mentions in public. Hey, you don’t want to lose all the music you spent hours adding to your computer, then to your phone, then to your computer and, sigh, the process is never ending. So, for goodness sake, back up your smartphone before travelling abroad.
While abroad, don’t be tempted to switch on 3G on your GSM mobile and connect to a UK network, which can be very costly. Connect to a secure Wi-Fi network whenever you want to frantically thumb through Facebook to see all the posts from your crush or best friend that you’ve missed during your vacation. If a network doesn’t ask for a password or network key when you attempt to connect, it isn’t secure. We advise you not to connect to unsecure networks when checking anything personal. If your hotel doesn’t provide access to a secure network, try BT Fon, which allows you to connect to a network of Wi-Fi hotspots, for a pre-paid daily charge.
We’re not saying that Britain is any more hazardous to your smartphone than the US, but if your phone does get lost, broken or stolen while you’re over here, pop into a Carphone Warehouse and chat with a Geek Squad Agent there for help. Find out more here.
Have a safe trip over here in the glorious British summer rain, and remember that Geek Squad UK are always only a phone call away whenever you need technology support.
By Agent Brown (UK)
Thinking of heading abroad this Summer? In this connected world, we take our smartphones everywhere. Here’s our guide on making sure your beloved device works the way it should during your holidays!
In the USA, there are two different types of mobile network, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). These two types of network use different technology to make and receive calls, making a CDMA phone not compatible with a GSM network and vice versa.
In the UK, all mobile networks use GSM, so if you have a CDMA handset then you will not be able to connect it to a UK mobile network at all.
If you want to know if you are on GSM or CDMA then you just need to know which carrier you are with. Verizon & Sprint use CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. If you are with a smaller carrier, you will need to check with them to find out which system they are using. This is definitely something to check before you travel, as you could get a nasty surprise when you touch down and try to make a call!
If you have a GSM phone and SIM card, using the UK mobile networks will be as easy as turning your phone on and waiting for it to connect. The phone should automatically pick up a UK network and you should be able to start making and receiving calls and texts as normal.
Make sure to check the charges with your carrier before you travel. Making calls from abroad can be very expensive.You don’t want your fond holiday memories spoiled by a huge phone bill when you get home.
Your network may allow you to add a special holiday bundle to your account, making it cheaper to use the handset when you are in the UK. This usually involves making a one-time payment to will provide you a pre-determined amount of time and will likely save you a lot of money if you intend to use the phone a lot.
A data connection can be particularly expensive, so most phones will not allow you to use data services while abroad unless you specifically turn on data roaming in the settings menu. If you do need to get online to check your emails or update Facebook, it is best to do this by connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Most hotels will have Wi-Fi available and there are thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK.
If you are using a CDMA handset, then you will not be able to make or receive calls or texts on your handset via any UK network. However, there are alternative ways you can communicate with your friends and family back home if you have access to a Wi-Fi connection.
If you have an Apple iPhone on iOS 5 or above, you can use Wi-Fi to make and receive free video calls using Face Time. You can also send text message to other iPhone users using the free iMessage service. Both of these options work automatically without any further setup if you have a Wi-Fi internet connection.
If you have a different brand of smartphone, you can use applications like Skype or WhatsApp to make internet calls and send free instant messages over Wi-Fi. Skype allows you to make free calls and send messages to other Skype users, on either a smartphone or a computer. You can also call landline and mobile numbers from Skype for a minimal charge.
WhatsApp is another popular way of sending free text message over Wi-Fi. Unlike iMessage, WhatsApp is universal, so there is a version available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Nokia and Blackberry. This means you can contact pretty much all of your friends and family who have a smartphone with the WhatsApp app..
There are a number of other messaging applications you can use depending on what your friends are using on their handsets. Facebook messenger for example, is another popular app that allows you to communicate with any of your Facebook friends who have messenger installed. And of course you always have the option of just sending an email from your phone.
We hope you have a safe, happy trip in the UK. If you need assistence, don’t forget to pop in and see your friendly neighbourhood Geek Squad Agent at a Carphone Warehouse store.
By Agent Hall (UK)
London is one of the world’s most exciting cities. There’s so much to see and do– from free art exhibitions, to jaw-dropping musical productions and family-friendly festivals (Like the chocolate festival, aaahhh). While you’re there, make the most of your trip!
Leaving on a jet plane? Let’s face it you’re probably looking at hours aboard a tin can on wings. But at least these handy planning apps can make the prep stage a little easier.
TripIt (all platforms – free) – organize your flight the easy way! Forward any booking or confirmation emails directly to email@example.com, and get a personal itinerary sent to you automatically. You can sync your itinerary with Google calendar or iCal. TripIt can also synchronise with other travel apps like FlightTrack for an even better service.
WorldMate (Android, iPhone – annual subscriptions service) – If you like the look of TripIt, but want to squeeze even more options and services out of your apps, WorldMate should suit you well. Although the WorldMate service carries an annual subscription charge, it offers a massive amount of functionality, including updates for delayed/cancelled flights and offers of alternative routes and transport.
The Trainline (all platforms) (free) – as far as UK train travel goes, Thetrainline.com has always been a boon. The mobile app is easy to use, lets you check train times and book tickets quickly and securely. It also syncs your booking with your Google calendar..
Virgin Trains (all platforms) (free) – you can use this handy app to book trains up to ten minutes before departure and collect them from Virgin’s FastTicket machines.
London Bus (iApple iPhone – £0.69) – similar to Google’s Layar app, London Bus by Press Elite uses augmented reality to show the location of tube, bus and tram stops. It also ties in with places to rent bikes, attractions and refreshments. If you prefer augmented reality to staring at a map, this will be the app for you.
London Transport Pro (Android – £1.49) – out of the many London transport apps on Google’s Play Store, this one has it all. Merging information from Tube and DLR services with live departure boards for London’s bus network, London Transport Pro allows you to set your favourite locations making it even easier to get from A to Zoo.
Google Maps/Navigation (all platforms – free) – get walking or driving directions, public transport information, all with turn-by-turn and voice guided navigation. When you pair this with the exceptional Google Maps website, you can plan your route on your computer and use your smartphone to find your way.
Navfree: Free GPS Navigation (Apple iPhone, Android - free) - a decent, cost-effective alternative to Google Maps, powered by OpenStreetMap. Navfree features turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts, and offline map storage to save data.
Google Places (Android, iPhone – free) – Places works with Google Maps and uses your phone’s GPS to find local businesses and attractions. Simply load up the app, tell it what kind of service you’re looking for and let it search for relevant places nearby. You can see other people’s user ratings and pick the best service near you.
Yelp (All Platforms – free) – Yelp acts in a very similar way to Google Places but relies more on user reviews and opinions. Yelp has an easily accessible mobile webpage for smartphones.. Download the app and try it out.
Time Out London mobile app (Android, iPhone – free) - In my opinion, Time Out London is the best way to find hidden gems like free art exhibitions and family-friendly festivals. Find nearby restaurants, bars, films, gigs and entertainment to enjoy during your stay.
Toptable mobile (Android, iPhone – free) - I’ve been using toptable to find great local restaurants and make online bookings for years. It’s great because you get honest user reviews, star ratings and candid photos, plus booking reminders and rewards.
We hope you enjoy your stay in the UK. Don’t forget — Geek Squad is available 24/7 in the UK, should you need any assistance with your technology.
By Agent Peter Cruickshank (UK)
Summer! Time for adventuring in the great outdoors. The warm weather may have you thinking of heading out for some camping, biking, swimming or even kayaking. The good news is that with a little care, you won’t have to leave your tech behind when enjoying some off-road adventure.
The sun, surf and sand of the beach may be good for your spirits, but not so good for your smartphone. Fortunately, just like you can protect your skin with a little sunscreen (and we do recommend sunscreen) you can protect your devices with a protective case.
The type of case to look for will depend on your specific needs. A wide variety of water resistant bags and boxes are available to protect your cell phone, MP3 player or camera, like this DiCAPac camera case or H2O Amphibx Arm Band. There are even waterproof headphones designed to let you listen to music while swimming(!) While the size and shape of these protective containers may make them bulky and prevent the use of some features, they have the advantage of working with a wide range of devices.
On the other hand, you can find cases designed exactly for your device, such as the Otterbox Defender series, the Lifeproof smartphone cases, or a Canon waterproof camera case. You won’t be able to use the case if you upgrade to a different device, but they do often allow you to make more use of your current device’s buttons and functionality while out on your adventure.
If a case won’t do, you may want to consider looking into tech that comes with protection right out of the box. For taking video on the go, the Kodak ZX5 HD flash memory camcorder is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and even fits in your pocket. The GoPro HD HERO2 wearable camera is designed to be taken along with your mountain bike, kayaking, surfboard or motorcycle ride with head and helmet straps. For photos, the Fuji FinePix XP50 and the Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 will let you get all the shots of your action.
With all that protection, it is still possible that you might get some surf or sand inside your device. Dust, sand and dirt can often cause serious problems, so make sure to clear any out before you use it. A bulb syringe and brush will help free the trapped particles. Avoid using compressed air when possible because the higher pressure could damage smaller electronic devices.
If you drop your device in water, immediately turn off the device and remove the battery if possible. Dry the device with a clean cloth, wiping every surface you can reach. Put the item into an airtight container with uncooked rice or a silica packet (often found in beef jerky packages) and let the item sit overnight.
The Geek Squad Agents at your local Best Buy can give you more tips about protecting your technology (and maybe even share some of their own adventure stories).
Agent Derek has been removing techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.For more tips on protecting your tech from liquid spills, check out Agent Laura G’s post here.
Summer is fast approaching! Families are piling in the car and setting out on the Nation’s highways and skyways in search of an inexpensive and stress-free vacation. Here at the Geek Squad, we want to make sure you know about a few technologies available that will help ensure your vacation is safe, efficient and a little less stressful.
Perhaps one of the most obvious tech gadgets in use today when on vacation is the GPS unit. This relatively simple-to-use device allows you to not only get easily from point A to point B, but also allows you to find new places of interest once you get to your vacation destination. What you may not know is that some newer GPS units also allow you to navigate a route using less fuel, monitor your fuel consumption and avoid traffic. Savings in the wallet and savings in time! Check out a GPS that offers live traffic reports such as a Garmin or TomTom. To get even fancier, Garmin has an accessory (ecoRouteHD) that ties your Garmin ecoRouteHD compatible GPS into your vehicle’s computer-control system to provide you with live engine data, including miles-per-gallon and engine trouble codes, right on your Garmin GPSs screen!
The smartphone is another tech tool that can help you save some cash. For example, a slew of applications are available on the market that allow you to see average area gas prices. Some applications, including GasBuddy (iPhone/Android), AccuFuel (iPhone/iPad) and GasBook (iPhone), even help you calculate whether or not it is wise to drive out of your route to save a few cents at a cheaper station. Smartphones and tablet devices can also help keep those back-seat drivers occupied by providing endless choices of entertainment. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you “are we there yet?” gets very old very quickly.
Technology can also help keep you safer when you are away. Digital cameras can be used to take a backup picture of vital documents such as passports or the condition of your rental car. GPS routing can be utilized at home before you leave, so you can let loved ones know your expected travel and arrival times. Smartphone and tablet applications that share your live location can also be shared with loved ones for a little extra peace of mind on those long-haul trips. Some people even leave their webcam-equipped computers on at home so they can log in via an internet connection and view get a live view of what is going on in the house.
Below is a short checklist you may find useful in planning and executing your vacation travel. Enjoy your adventure and keep it safe:
• Plan route in the GPS, write down times/dates and share with loved ones via email or written letter
• Take pictures/make photocopies of important documents as backups in case you lose the originals.
• On the day of departure have a list ready of all accessories: Do you have power cords, charters, batteries, and mounts for all your gadgets? Would an all-in-one power supply or charger help cut down wires?
• During your trip use your phone, portable DVD or tablet as a source of entertainment.
• Check in with your loved ones periodically by phone or email, especially if you have to deviate from your planned route.
• Always remember to have a map as a backup. GPS units are not infallible and should not be your only source of navigation whether you are in the car or on the trail. Please, use your head, it is the best safety device you will ever have!
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