Took the iPad 2 for a long road trip overseas.......
Before I took the plunge to get an iPad 2 I spent some time on this forum and gathered some invaluable information from the forum members, for which I am grateful.
Now that I've taken the plunge and taken mine for a road trip overseas, I thought some of my experience might be useful info to some of you. So here goes :)............
I just got back from a 3 week trip to parts of Southeast Asia and suffice to say that the iPad 2 was a godsend. I picked the iPad up literally 2 days before my departure so a crash course was at hand. My last Apple product (apart from the iPod) was some 10 years ago and I was holding out for the Xoom. I'm glad I did not. The model I chose was the 64G Wifi+3G. Stood in line and was lucky to get the last 2 AT&T models.
I don't have an AT&T account so I was running it thro wifi before my departure. My first destination was Bangkok with a stopover at Narita, Tokyo. I first got it connected using wifi at the Star Alliance lounge. It worked seamlessly.
This, especially Bangkok, is an iPad crazy country. I got stopped so many times from folks inquiring about the new iPad 2. Even got a couple of offers to buy it off my hands. I had this one girl who came by every 5 minutes to ask a question and each time she had a calculator with her, checking and double checking the exchange rate and price.
Buying a regular SIM card is a breeze here but getting a micro SIM card was a challenge. You can find SIM card vendors in every corner including the local 7-11s but micro SIM cards can only be purchased from the main telcom offices/stores. For this, there is always one place that is guaranteed....Siam Paragon across the street from Siam Square, right smack in the middle of downtown on Sukhumvit. The BTS train stop is 'Siam' and you can get to it from anywhere.
Siam Paragon is a hallmark of a luxury mall and everything can be found here from SIM cards to Ferraris (I kid you not). The floors are broken up into different categories with Mobile Technology and IT related stuff on the 4th Floor, including a 3rd party Mac store (apparently there are no Apple stores in Thailand). Now you have a choice of carriers to choose from but I went with DTAC since most of the folks I know there who run iPhones are using DTAC.
Walked in and the first counter on the right is where all the prepaid SIM cards are. Asked for one for the iPad and voila, 30 seconds after it was inserted I was connected. It cost 89 THB for the card ($3) and 100 THB for every 50MB of use. For this you need a top-up or refill card. The girl behind the counter knew what she was doing so she refilled the new SIM immediately, so out the door it was 189 THB. You can easily refill or top this up at ANY 7-11. All I had to do was show them my receipt from DTAC that had the SIM card number and ask them to help refill. They ask you how much and within minutes you are good to go.
The service worked everywhere that had a DTAC connection including some pretty isolated towns that I visited for work (factories). I commuted to work daily on an express boat on the Chao Phraya river and it worked!
At the end of my trip I came back to Bangkok for a few more days and the same SIM card worked right out of the airport (in the taxi). There were some expected dropped coverage along the way into the city. The DTAC SIM card has a 90 day period; if you refill it again before the 90 days are over, you can keep using the same card. Someone else from my studio is headed back there next month and I'm sure she can also use this same SIM card.
It was more challenging here than I had thought. Some 3 months back I had a friend from Singapore who was using his iPad in Malaysia seamlessly so I thought this was going to be a cinch. Not so. I had thought that he had bought a SIM card locally but found out that he brought his Singapore SIM card along that last trip.
I went to so many main outlets for the major carriers including Maxis, Celcom and Digi, and none of them had prepaid micro SIM cards. Never quite understood it since there are so many iPhone users around. It wasn't until I got to the Maxis office at Bangsar Shopping Centre did I find out that micro SIM cards are only available to those with subscriptions. The only way to get a prepaid one for the iPad was for them to punch/cut one from a regular prepaid SIM. This was a little tricky to do given the fact that the girl behind the counter had never done one before. She had to go next door to borrow the punch from the folks at Digi who did not make this same recommendation to me.
Anyway card was punched and it took some reinsertions before I was able to connect. I had to make sure that the SIM was laying flat on the SIM tray. Problem was that the cut SIM was just a hair larger.
Cost was about RM70 ($24) total and she did ask me to bring it back should I have any problems with it. Connection though was pretty touch and go. In Bangkok, even though the cover on the iPad2 was closed, email was still streaming in. In Kuala Lumpur, half the time when the cover was closed, connection was severed. When I re-opened it I had to go back to Settings and make sure that A) it found Maxis and B) Maxis was selected from all the carriers that were shown. Granted, this is my first iPad so I could have missed something in the manual.
Gotta run right now but will add a few more bits shortly. Thanks.