MobileViews Blog

MobileViews Podcast 157: Travel tech observations and tips


American Airlines in-flight entertainment “iPod mode”

I visited my daughter in the UK earlier this month. We traveled through Scotland and then spent a few days in England. I rarely travel these days and even more rarely travel outside of the U.S. So, this was a learning experience for me in terms of gadgets and technology. In this podcast Jon Westfall and I (Todd Ogasawara) discuss some of the things I observed and learned during this trip.

  1. The American Airlines flights I took had a USB port under each of the in-seat displays.
  2. In the UK every electrical outlet is switched. In the old days, I had to carry a voltage adapter as well as a plug adapter. A/C adapters for gadgets are smart enough to automatically deal with moving from the U.S.’s 110/120V 60Hz electricity to the 230V 50Hz needed in the UK and elsewhere. Tmvel TMV-G-2IN1-4PK 2-In-1 Universal to United Kingdom Type G Adapter Plug – 4 Pack
  3. The I carried was sufficient for my needs while traveling. I didn’t need the power strips I had taken with me.
  4. The August EP715 – Active Noise Cancelling Earphones worked better than I expected based on my testing at home.
  5. I paid AT&T $30 for one month of a low-end international roaming plan. It included a mere 80 MB of data and reduced cost for voice plus free texting. However, this was just for emergencies or if I accidentally switched out of airplane mode was in the UK because…
  6. I also carried my Nexus 6 on the Google Fi network which includes a much more reasonable international roaming plan through its use of the T-Mobile roaming plan. Fi uses the T-Mobile and Sprint networks in the US.
  7. In the UK, Google Fi was exclusively on the T-Mobile UK network.
  8. While the Google Fi FAQ says that I was limited to 3G 256 Kbps download speeds, I often saw LTE connections and what seemed like relatively fast speeds.
  9. Despite leaving AT&T roaming service off, I was able to get GPS data for the photos I took with my iPhone 6 by turning on WiFi. This also enables the GPS radio
  10. Google’s offline maps feature worked reasonably well on both the iPhone and Android Nexus.
  11. Google Fi’s WiFi calling feature turned out to be handy.
  12. While free WiFi services in airports, hotels, and the Apple Store worked as expected, many (most) “free” WiFi offered in pubs, restaurants, and other smaller venues required some kind of UK based account. So, this kind of free WiFi is not available for foreign visitors.
  13. The Nexus 6 seemed to freeze several times in the UK and required a forced soft reset. I have not seen this problem since returning to the US.
  14. The Scottevest Revolution Plus jacket was mostly good. However, the hood’s zipper kept unzipping when not on my head. It needs some kind of locking mechanism. And, the hood is extremely difficult to fold back into its too small pouch.
  15. The Scottevest short sleeve Camp Shirt, on the other hand, has two well designed extra large breast pockets that easily holds both an iPhone 6+ and Nexus 6. They are actually double pockets so you can also store tickets or passports too.
  16. A U.S. Netflix account worked fine in the UK. However, you see content licensed for the UK.
  17. Video downloaded from Amazon Prime for free played back with and without network connectivity.
  18. YouTube Red subscriptions are not active in the UK. I saw a message telling me so. This meant that I saw ads in videos there.

We also discussed:

  1. Opera developer edition now includes free VPN option/service.
  2. Gadget Security: The Insecurity of Kwikset Smartkey Locks
  3. Jon’s Favorite Cargo Pants: http://amzn.to/1MQ87v1 and http://amzn.to/1Qv4cOP (Black)