Photo: Aiming for a higher level in Lamphun.

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URGENT-netbook vs iTouch

Posted by meltravelstheworld on 10/1/2010 at 10:40

Hi There,

I'm heading to South East Asia on Monday for 4 months - visiting Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and likely the Philipinnes. From the other posts, it sounds like wifi is fairly accessible in most places in these countries (only big cities or small ones too?) but, what about at the guesthouses/backpacker accomodations? I am debating taking an iTouch vs a netbook. While the iTouch is handy, my biggest concern is being able to face-to-face skype with my boyfriend (preferably directly from my room). But, if wifi isn't generally available in accomodations in South East Asia, then I'll take the iTouch (which only allows for voice skype, not face to face).

Please let me know your thoughts soon since I leave in less than 48 hours. Thanks!

#1 meltravelstheworld has been a member since 10/1/2010. Posts: 5

Posted by Dylan on 10/1/2010 at 18:55

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hey Mel,

I had the same dilemma when I was planning my 13-week trip to SE Asia--only in my case it was a girlfriend overseas who I wanted to keep in touch with.

In the end, I went in favor of the netbook. For me, the ability to backup pictures from my camera and post them online, download podcasts for long bus/train rides, skype with family/friends and even watch an episode or two of "Curb your Enthusiasm" won out over the portability of an iTouch.

As for WiFi access, it's ubiquitous here in Vietnam; if your GH doesn't provide it, a nearby cafe or hotel usually will have an unprotected signal you can latch onto. I'm actually writing this now from the comfort of my room in Dalat, at a guesthouse that doesn't offer wifi--the signal is from a minihotel just down the street. The situation's comparable in Thailand, especially in the larger cities.

In Laos, I had to take my computer to a dedicated internet cafe and plug it in, as wifi wasn't available except in (the fanciest) restaurants, and only then in tourist centers like Luang Prabang. In Cambodia, the situation was similar, but with slightly faster connection speeds overall.

This has all been in backpacker accommodations. Never spent any more than $8/night, except in Bangkok (and one night during the SEA Games in Vientiane).

Let me know if I can help to shed any more light on this.

#2 Dylan has been a member since 21/3/2009. Posts: 25

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/1/2010 at 19:17 admin

Think Dylan hits on an important point here -- that with a netbook you get a lot of other "added bonuses" that you won't get with an iTouch (as much as I'd love to say take the iTouch and don't forget to buy our iPhone App!)

So if I had to choose between the two and would use the other features in the netbook, then I'd probably take a netbook.

Or, just pack both -- the iTouch doesn't take up much space!

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,643
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Posted by dastott on 10/1/2010 at 22:06

I agree, take both. Moreover, if you are trying to connect to weaker wifi signals your netbook stands a much better chance of picking them up than the iTouch.

#4 dastott has been a member since 29/4/2009. Posts: 14

Posted by meltravelstheworld on 10/1/2010 at 22:44

Thank you all for replying so quickly! I really really appreciate it. I think I will take the netbook (and maybe also the iTouch) but I wanted to know how do you protect all your valuables, both in your room (especially if you're sharing) and more importantly, on buses, etc. I would have a netbook, ipod or iTouch, cell phone, and camera (I feel like a tech store:). I was planning to keep them in my daypack with locks on the zippers but I've still heard horror stories. Any tips?

Thanks! Melissa

#5 meltravelstheworld has been a member since 10/1/2010. Posts: 5

Posted by christay2009 on 10/1/2010 at 23:45

Why do you need a iTouch AND an iPod? why not forget the iTouch as you have the netbook for that kinda stuff and just take the iPod?

At least then it would be one less thing to worry about.

Unfortunately, the only way i found of really protecting my valuables was taking them with me everywhere. You could invest in one of those pacsafe things, where you can securely fasen them to anything sturdy and they cannot be broken into. This would be extra weight and expense but perhaps would enable you to leave things behind (although not the netbook, i think the safes are pretty small).

I had a padlock on my day bag but only put it on if i was on a bus journey or in a busy market. I found it got pretty annoying having to put in the code everytime i wanted to get something out. I guess you could also argue that it advertises you have valuables in your bag?!

My next trip i think i'll not even bother bringing my iTouch. Yes its quite convienient sometimes to check email and stuff but, for me at least, i'd prefer to leave it at home and not worry about it being stolen or having to carry it around (i know its not exactly heavy!). I found an old iPod Mini the other day, might just take that if it still works then at least i won't be too bothered about leaving it in my bag unattended.

Hope that helps

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Posted by Cary on 11/1/2010 at 12:36

I too faced this dilemma. I opted for the netbook. I feel like i made the right decision, but I don't leave for BKK for another 8 days, so I guess we'll find out some time after that.

I really like the idea of having a place to back up photos, book guesthouses, etc. and this thing was cheap so if i lose it/it gets stolen/broken I won't shed too many tears.

I just occurred to me that I dont have a backpack that is really lockable, so I'm sure security will become an issue at some point, but for the momment we'll have to wait and see.

#7 Cary has been a member since 1/1/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by meltravelstheworld on 11/1/2010 at 12:43

thanks for all of your replies! the final verdict is that i'm bringing the netbook and leaving the iTouch at home. i'm happy with my decision, especially for skype - so much better to keep in touch. Cary, have a great trip and I'll let you know if I have any issues!

Leaving tomorrow morning...


#8 meltravelstheworld has been a member since 10/1/2010. Posts: 5

Posted by Cary on 11/1/2010 at 12:48

Good luck!!!

#9 Cary has been a member since 1/1/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by idreamofdurian on 11/1/2010 at 13:39 TF writer

You'll be amazed where you can pick up wifi.... my most surprising one was at a guesthouse in the jungle near Mae Sot. The signal must have been coming from the owner's house nearby -- they certainly didn't advertise they had wifi though!

Anyway, the message is take the netbook. :)

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Posted by Sono on 17/2/2010 at 01:16

I am heading to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia myself in a few weeks and will be bringing my itouch, the netbook seems like too much hassle for me but I suppose it is whatever suits u better.

In other news how do I start a new thread? This is my first post and I cant seem to be able to find the option anywhere!


#11 Sono has been a member since 13/2/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by stevejames00 on 26/2/2010 at 02:10

I have had a very similar problem. I think I'm leaving the netbook at home though because its bigger, heavier and harder to look after. Also would a netbook not make you a bit anti social? just sat in your room messing about on the net all day or watching films at night rather than meeting people??

So I was thinking the iTouch which is good for just checking email and all the other aps or a Sony PSP...

#12 stevejames00 has been a member since 29/1/2009. Posts: 53

Posted by Dylan on 26/2/2010 at 02:21

Hmm--I'd say that the netbook only makes you antisocial if you let it. Take it out in a common area, and you'll probably have curious techie onlookers starting up conversations (at least I did).

Of course, if you're holed up in your room playing Freecell all day, then it's a problem. But that's exactly what I did when I came down with dengue fever in north vietnam...I was more than grateful to have some mild entertainment while I rested up.

#13 Dylan has been a member since 21/3/2009. Posts: 25

Posted by busylizzy on 26/2/2010 at 02:33

I took my iPod Classic and a netbook. I didn't use the iPod nearly as much as I though I might, but found the netbook excellent for keeping in touch, researching and arranging travel and accommodation, keeping a blog updated and for backing up photos. I also stored my TF travel guides on it, although I do prefer to have them printed out to carry with me.

I also used the iPod to back up my photos. You may want to consider the iTouch for this, although I have no idea how big the hard drive on an iTouch is. (And it depends on how many photos you are likely to take).

It's amazing how technology has changed the way we travel!

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Posted by Road_Warrior on 23/5/2010 at 21:48

I think you should take both, if you can afford to. The other posts make lots of good points about the added utility and usefulness of the netbook. You'll probably find that the netbook gives you lots of flexibility and ways to overcome unexpected situations. However, I would take the iTouch, because it fills in gaps that the Netbook cannot. First, it will be more reliable, because it is a solid-state device that can be used in more difficult heat and humidity situations than the netbook. The instant-on feature will make it more convenient and handy for most simple uses - browsing, Skype, local maps, guidebooks, restaurant reviews, etc. The battery life is longer than a netbook and easy to prolong with portable solar panels, so you'll get a lot more utility out of it over time.

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Posted by inspiredbykrissi on 23/12/2011 at 09:04

Netbook! Netbook! Netbook!

Happy travels :)

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Posted by Criggy on 22/2/2012 at 10:07

Just wanted to mention another thing in this thread because I don't think its been brought up...

On the subject of backing up photos, why not use something like Dropbox? You could pull photos off your camera in an internet cafe and upload them to dropbox? They would then be saved if you lost your camera, and you have the added benefit of sharing your dropbox folders with family/friends so that they can see your photos... They can pull the photos off onto a PC at home to keep your space free?

Just a thought?


#17 Criggy has been a member since 21/2/2012. Posts: 13

Posted by tyler on 22/2/2012 at 20:35

On previous trips I have taken my SD card to a local shop and had my pics burned to a CD and shipped them home...

#18 tyler has been a member since 7/12/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 257
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Posted by caseyprich on 23/2/2012 at 02:45

URGENT !?!?! Jeez - I must be getting old, because this seems like a ridiculous urgent concern. Either 1) because you can find internet most places so it isn't a worry and 2) this would be a great opportunity to unplug from the grid for at least a few days at a time.

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Posted by rengi091 on 25/4/2012 at 07:37

I know the post is been very old already but I just wanted to give my opinions about these...

When it comes to travelling.. Netbook would be the best since its really portable..
Netbook also have different applications and features that itouch doesnt..
If video chatting is what you want to do then netbook would be great since the screen is way to bigger.. :)

#20 rengi091 has been a member since 25/4/2012. Posts: 5

Posted by Bartje83 on 18/5/2012 at 03:41

While travelling, the itouch was always my biggest friend. Netbooks may seem portable, but if you're lugging them around for months, they become quite the hassle. The itouch will fit in your pocket, is pretty sturdy and won't be such a great loss if it does damage.

#21 Bartje83 has been a member since 2/5/2012. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 10
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