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Tech Q&A: Apple iPad Ready to Travel

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By Steve Alexander

iPad_man_holding(MCT)—QUESTION: I’m planning a vacation to Naples, Italy, in the near future and would like to use my Apple iPad 2 while I’m there. Is this possible? Do I need any special instructions?

—Angelo Dinorcio, Northampton, Pa.

ANSWER: Your iPad will work just as it always has. The question is how you’ll connect to the Internet.

The easiest way to use an iPad 2 in Italy is to find Wi-Fi hot spots, which are plentiful in hotels and public places. Many are free.

If you want to be assured of having a Wi-Fi signal anywhere, you can rent an Italian cellular firm’s MiFi device, which attaches to the local cellular network, then connects to your iPad via Wi-Fi. Rentals are about $15 a day for up to 14 days. Find examples from XCom Global, and Cellular Abroad.

Connecting directly to cellular networks in Italy is a little more work. Networks there are standardized on GSM technology, so if you are an AT&T or T-Mobile customer, you can connect to an Italian cellular carrier, provided you have an international data plan or, better, if you buy a temporary local account.

You can get a temporary local wireless account in Italy by purchasing a Micro SIM card — an internal iPad 2 memory card that identifies your wireless plan to the local cellular network — from an Italian phone store. The temporary plan, for $30 and up, can include varying amounts of data, depending on how much you want to pay.

If you have an iPad 2 from Verizon, you can’t connect to an Italian GSM cellular network. This problem has been solved in newer iPad models from Verizon.

Note that if you want to use your iPad for navigation, you can do it without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection because navigation is based on GPS satellite signals.

Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

©2013 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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