This is a guest post from Wes Compton (@LanOC_Reviews), editor-in-chief of LanOC Reviews, who went on a 'mobile vacation' with his family and stayed connected with a BlackBerry Z10 and Jetpack 4G LTE™ mobile hotspot.
As someone who works from their computer all the time, it can sometimes be a little hard to get away from work. This is even more so when you take into account our always-connected lives. Because of that, when getting ready for vacation this year, I was warned by my wife that I wouldn’t be working while on vacation.
All of this got me thinking: We know the downsides of being always connected while on vacation, but what about the good sides? When packing for the trip, I made sure to include the new BlackBerry Z10, as well as a Jetpack 4G LTE™ mobile hotspot. This is, of course, in addition to my laptop and tablets for both me and my wife.
With this being the first time since I was a kid that we were going on a family vacation, we actually had time to take advantage of our Jetpack 4G LTE mobile hotspot while on the road. Driving from Ohio to Myrtle Beach meant that we would spend a good portion of our time in the mountains. Because of this, I was a little worried about how good of a connection we would maintain. Believe it or not, I was blown away by the connection we were able to have through most of the trip.
With Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the data speeds were faster than what most people have in their homes, and I only ran into a couple small areas on the trip where we had issues at all. Those issues were limited to tunnels (obviously) and a few deep valleys that the signal just couldn’t reach us at. I would say a good 90 percent of the drive was all on Verizon’s 4G LTE network with the rest of the time speeds dropping down to 3G. This was the first time I could really see how much Verizon has been expanding their 4G LTE network. I live in a very rural area, and I was surprised that we get 4G LTE in our area, but for there to be service through the mountains, I was impressed!
With our Internet connection, we were able to toy around on our social networks, play games and, at least in my case, I was able to spend some long overdue time catching up on Reddit without feeling bad that it was cutting into my work time or vacation time. The idea of needing the Internet to play games seems a little silly on our tablets, but I found that a lot of the games my wife and I play require an Internet connection. Some for obvious reasons (like SongPop, where you play against friends), but others like TinyTower use the Internet just to confirm you aren’t cheating.
Although I would typically keep a hotspot like the Jetpack close to a power outlet, on our drive I just left it running off its battery. My past experiences with older MiFi’s weren’t all that encouraging for battery life, but the Jetpack blew me away. Not only did it last the entire 13 hour drive, but it also stayed on through dinner and our hotel stay when we stopped for the night most of the way to Myrtle Beach.
Twelve hours in the back of a vehicle also meant we had time to play around with the BlackBerry Z10 a little, as well. There was one specific feature that came in handy while on the road. The best picture mode that snaps multiple photos and lets you pick the best photo out of the bunch was a blessing. For one, taking photos from a moving vehicle can sometimes be difficult with a phone, leaving you with photos that look like they were taken at warp speed. But, even more, when driving through the mountains, sometimes you only have a small window where trees aren’t blocking your view of beautiful valleys.
Once we got to our condo and met up with the rest of the family, I started peeking around and looking for information on our wireless Internet. As it turns out, we didn’t have any. So, having the Jetpack with us ended up coming in handy. In addition, some of the family’s phones were on an Ohio-based competitor’s network and had no access to mobile Internet at all. One of those was a teenage girl, and I’m sure you can imagine how well it went over not having Internet. Once setup on the Jetpack 4G LTE for Internet, everything calmed down and all was right with the world again.
Once we were officially on vacation, the BlackBerry Z10 came in handy even more. Its camera was more than capable of handling all of our photo duties while not forcing me to carry around an extra camera, and certainly much easier than carrying around my DSLR. Both indoor and outdoor photographs came out well as you will see below.
Even our photos from inside Medieval Times, with their quick action scenes, came out reasonably well. Getting a good shot in the lower light with things moving so quickly did push things to the limit, but this is where the best photo slider comes in handy. If you look below, we were actually able to get a perfect photo of one of the knights giving a dirty look to the very loud group of college kids who were taunting him from behind us.
Leading into vacation, my wife was extremely concerned that I would spend the entire trip doing work if I still had access everything. I would be lying if there wasn’t a picture of me doing a little work on the way there. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much being connected thanks to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network improved my vacationing experience.