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What do I need to send emails from the train?

(29 Posts)
JacqueslePeacock Tue 14-May-13 21:37:32

Help! I am losing several hours a day of working time by not having a device which can read and reply to emails during my commute. What should I buy for this? I was thinking of an iPad, but they're expensive and not ideal to type on. What about a tiny laptop (is it called a netbook?)? Could this receive and send mails? There is no wifi on the train so the device would need to be able to connect to the Internet without that.

(can you tell I know nothing about computing/connecting to the internet?! Please help me, kind Mumsnet geeks grin)

ElizaCBennett Tue 14-May-13 22:19:33

Any laptop or net book with Internet connectivity will do. An iPad or android device will work as well. Depends what you want to spend really. I use an iPad and love it.

ElizaCBennett Tue 14-May-13 22:37:26

Sorry, should have also said the device will need to be 3G to connect to the Internet.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 14-May-13 22:41:09

Something that has 3g built in, or you can get a dongle (looks like a memory stick) for mobile.internet access.

niceguy2 Tue 14-May-13 22:46:26

Firstly I'd say be very careful of what your expectations are. If you think you will be able to sit on a train surfing in blissful silicon heaven answering emails then the reality is likely to be much different.

3G signals on a train is very flakey. It'll be up & down all the time meaning there's a good chance you'll disconnecting/reconnecting all the time to your company network.

Depending on how your company provides your email, this may not be a big issue. Download the mails offline once...read, reply. Then connect to company via 3G and hit sync to send them all. If you can do that then your plan might have legs. But if you use some sort of web front end like Outlook web access then I'd think again.

JacqueslePeacock Tue 14-May-13 22:59:41

Wow, thanks for all the comments! If I get 3G, how do I pay for that? Is it like a mobile phone contract? (told you I was clueless!) Or a dongle - is that more like PAYG, or have I completely misunderstood? And would most portable devices have 3G built in?

I take your point about crap connectivity on the train. I guess I would use Outlook if possible - not the web access version - so yes, downloading and then reconnecting to send would be a possibility.

workhell Tue 14-May-13 23:11:07

Will a phone not do it? You don't need a laptop

CointreauVersial Tue 14-May-13 23:13:47

A dongle is a bit like a phone - paid monthly, depending on data usage.

midoriway Tue 14-May-13 23:17:00

I tether my laptop to my phone. No need for a dongle, I just turn my phone into a wifi hotspot. Google foxfii for an app that can do this. It isn't brilliant, but if you were using outlook it would be okay.

Otherworld Tue 14-May-13 23:17:16

You should also consider your company security policy as this may drive you towards a particular technology.

HazeltheMcWitch Tue 14-May-13 23:18:31

What about a Blackberry with Qwerty keyboard? Good if you have lots of shorter emails, with fewer attachments.

I can easily BB standing up on train, pretty fast typing.

Steffanoid Tue 14-May-13 23:18:46

if you have a smart phone rather than a dumb/symbian phone you can make it be a hotspot to connect to then your laptop/netbooks could connect, the only thing is that data can cost a lot of money if you dont monitor your usage, you hear of a lot of very clever people who rack up £££'s in data charges

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 23:22:22

Why not ask your company for a BlackBerry? Or by email do you mean personal email as opposed to corporate email? If personal then there is no corporate firewall to navigate so any smart phone will do.

JacqueslePeacock Tue 14-May-13 23:26:36

I have a very ancient un-smart phone, so that wouldn't work. On the other hand, buying a smart phone would be cheaper than buying a laptop/tablet, so that would be a possibility. But wouldn't it be a big pain for typing?

I have wondered about a Blackberry too, but thought that would be less useful than a tablet etc. I really don't know what I need. I don't mind paying quite a bit for it now, but I don't want high ongoing costs for the Internet connection (if that makes sense).

JacqueslePeacock Tue 14-May-13 23:27:14

Ha ha ha! My work would most definitely not pay for a Blackberry! I wish.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 23:46:14

If you are thinking of accessing your corporate email then your tech guys will have to install software on your laptop/tablet in order for you to get through the security put in place to keep out hackers. As a rule they don't do this to personal laptops.

If your company doesnt feel that you need a BlackBerry then they certainly aren't going to give you a laptop.

Basically, a smartphone with a 4.7 inch screen and a basic £10 pm contract will allow you to access your personal email in comfort. But for corporate email its more complicated.

NetworkGuy Wed 15-May-13 08:43:16

"I tether my laptop to my phone. No need for a dongle, I just turn my phone into a wifi hotspot." Some networks don't support / allow tethering, or charge a pretty steep amount (25 quid a month and up), which is a bit of a luxury if work won't refund any portion...

First question - what route is the commute (or do you see anyone 'computing on the move' so you can ask them all what network(s) they use). Check as many people as possible, and where they use/ fail to access their network. Be aware that their experience is not guaranteed on different devices, and even may depend which side of the train they sit...

Options may depend on what gives best coverage on your journey, or perhaps at the end nearest end of journey... you could collect any email overnight and then respond 'offline' and send shortly before arriving at destination station.

The 'ongoing costs' might be moderate to high, depending on whether you buy a laptop / netbook / mobile. Would you really prefer to spend 500 on a mobile for low cost mobile contract, or spend 15-20 quid a month and get the phone included?

There are some mobiles with keyboard built in. Not that many, and few of those with bigger screens as far as I know. The ones I have seen are mostly Android

But until you know what network(s) work either all the way or near the end of journey, it's difficult to predict best option.

Indeed - would a 200 quid netbook without 3G be workable, if you could download your mail at home and send it on arrival at the office (assuming they have no block on BYOD {bring your own device}) ?

A 3G netbook would have ongoing costs. A netbook you could use on wi-fi at fixed locations would have none but the initial outlay.

If you're terminating your journey in London, there may be some T-Mobile/ Virgin Mobile deals which would provide internet access via VM's wireless at some Underground stations (I'm 200 miles away but have 'access' in theory, if I ever re-visit London, because of my T-Mobile contract).

NetworkGuy Wed 15-May-13 08:44:12

If work has a policy on what devices can be connected to their network, worth asking about that too, while you canvass other commuters on what they use smile

JacqueslePeacock Wed 15-May-13 09:39:18

I have my work email already connected to my laptop, so no issues there. We don't seem to have very stringent security! It's just that my laptop is very big and heavy and I can't work on it on the train, and it can't connect to the Internet on the move at the moment (no 3G or dongle).

I like the phone idea, but I often have to download large documents, so I worry that it wouldnt be very convenient, and i might end up with a lot of data charges. If I bought a phone with 3G, how do I pay for it? Is it a monthly contract regardless of how much Internet I use?

NetworkGuy Wed 15-May-13 09:55:12

The contracts are too many and varied (and some allow 'unlimited' such as Three, on contracts from about 13 quid, while others charge up to and over 40 quid and limit to 5 or so GB of data).

Sorry, I think you need to know which networks work on the train to go forward with choices. Unless London terminus is in your movements. Sounds like a netbook may work for you, as it has a proper keyboard and big enough screen without being too heavy to carry...

Does your laptop stay at the office or home (given the awkwardness makes it sound a "luggable" rather than joy to use) ?

tribpot Wed 15-May-13 09:59:59

Downloading large docs could be a pain on any kind of device whilst mobile - speeds are just not that great. So it might be that you want to plan ahead, download a bunch of emails whilst at home, work on them on the move and then connect when back in the office to send them. Or are there are a number of emails coming in whilst you're commuting that you can't get to until you arrive at work?

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 10:06:16

Internet access is usually part of the package of minutes but it's usually about 100mb-ish. It's enough to check your emails but not enough for lots of (big) document downloads.

You can upgrade to 500mb to 1GB data allowance per month for a few extra pounds a month. Three does unlimited data but I got an email warning me that I was close to breaching their fair usage policy when I hit 1.8 GB one month (too much YouTube-ing on train). It sounds like you are unlikely to fall foul of this.

How about a phablet? (Its a phone that has a tablet size screen) Bigger screen than a phone and not as cumbersome as a tablet or a netbook. However this comes back to corporate security and whether you need special software at your end.

If you decide to go for the laptop solution look up Mi Fi. No one uses dongles anymore smile Its a mobile hot spot gadget that is the size of a pack of playing cards. You can hang five gadgets off it at the sane time via Bluetooth. You need a PAYG or contract SIM. £15 pm will get you about 5GB data pm. If that is too much data, you can buy 1GB at a time. If you don't do serious downloading at home then you an hang your home PC off the Mi Fi and do away with your landline broadband contract.

NetworkGuy Wed 15-May-13 10:20:09

MoTS - when did you get warning from Three ? I used 20 to 30 GB each month when I had my contract from March 2012 to February 2013, on their 'all you can eat' deal at 15 quid or so.

The MiFi idea is a reasonable one. I know I have seen 3 GB data SIMs on Ebay for about 13 quid (using Three) but until OP knows which network(s) are viable there are too many unknowns...

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 10:35:20

That was October 2012.

Last month I got a text about my usage when I made the mistake of downloading a GPS app that came with off line maps via my 3G connection as opposed to Wi Fi. This extra 500mb download pushed my data usage to about 1.9GB for the month.

That was a FYI text so I wasn't being warned off but it does show that Three does keep an eye on how much data I eat.

Normally I just use about 1.5GB. Otherwise I be banging on Three's door demanding to know why Three is more generous with you smile

NetworkGuy Wed 15-May-13 10:55:58

Try World Wide Webcam - it chews hundreds of MB a day if you let it.

If you are on an AYCE account, then they should not be sending any such warning text. I'd be going into a 3Store to ask them as I think they have stated that the bulk (90++%) of users are mainly using their network for data. They make a big thing of being unlimited...

I have an e-mail address of someone in their Executive Office if you are given the run around about some 'fair usage policy'... What plan are you on? Is it some years old, or one of the 'Unlimited xxx' (xxx being the number of minutes) ? or a One Plan (if so then at the price I am staggered they'd be complaining about high usage).

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