Readers of my ramblings will be aware that prior to commencing this, ‘Our Winter Trip 2014’, we had invested in a ‘Motorhome WiFi iBoost Device’ and that whilst using it on this trip I had reserved judgement on whether this in fact had been a prudent investment, having had some success with it but also some frustrations. I have said right at the outset of this travel blog that I will always be honest, on all aspects of our ‘on the road’ adventures whether they be good, bad or indifferent and so the time I think is right to give our ‘user’s review’ of the iBoost Device.
Let me start at the very beginning, the day we started this new ‘nomadic‘ lifestyle. It wasn’t done on a whim, we had spent a good six years both dreaming, researching and planning for the ‘Big Day’, although that day arrived a little earlier than we had both anticipated !! We had thought about the ‘Essentials‘ and the ‘Desirables‘ and had decided that the need for WiFi, or at least any sort of device to receive or enhance it, at that particular time, was not an essential as we were not reliant on it, to run a business or similar. We were aware that WiFi was actually quite widely available throughout Europe, in Cafe’s, Bars, Restaurants, Fast Food Outlets and also the growing provision of free ‘WiFi Zones’ within public areas in many towns and cities, so for our first trip we just decided to see how we would get on. What I didn’t know, at that time, was just how widely available WiFi had become on many of the ‘Aires’. Our initial ‘Winter Trip’ was only for a period of thirteen weeks and in that time, even with writing and publishing blogs at a great rate of knots, including downloading and inserting the ‘hundreds’ of photographs, we managed quite well. When we didn’t have WiFi readily available we were not bothered, we had our iPhones on a contractual basis and this enabled us, when in the UK to make ‘free’ calls and provided 2 Gb of Data allowance each month, in Europe we didn’t get this ‘inclusive’ Data Allowance but could purchase it, if required, for £1.99 per day (Unrestricted usage) and we paid just £0.50p for each phone call back to the UK (limited to 59 minutes for each call), basically, we had reasonably economical communications at our disposal. There was a difference however, to not having access to WiFi, because it just was not available, to the frustration of not having it when it was actually available, due to a weak signal, which on many occasions was due to where we were pitched, not that we always had a choice in the matter, or because ‘our’ choice of Pitch was not governed by the availability of the WiFi reception !! I think what added some ‘fuel to the fire‘ was when ‘other’ campers would advertise that they had access to ‘WiFi’ through some device that they had invested in and we were getting frustrated with having WiFi but with it keeping dropping out, especially when I was downloading my photographs or Shazza was in the middle of a Skype video call with her mum.
When we returned to the UK from our first ‘Winter’ trip I decided to look again at the wide range of devices that were available. It was mind-blowing, now as you well know by now, I am not, how can I put this, ‘Technically Astute’ so a lot of it went straight over my head. Even the widely popular ‘Dongles’ or ‘MiFi’ devices, as people call them, still caused me problems, how am I supposed to know how much ‘Data Usage’ i required ? This of course had an impact on the cost so I didn’t want to be caught out spending a fortune on ‘Data Allowances’ that I was never going to need or conversely, not purchasing a device that gave me enough !! No, this was getting far too complicated for my ‘simple’ brain. Then I remembered ‘Nick and Cathy’ from our camping weekend at Wisbech. We were on a small campsite that did have WiFi, unfortunately, where we were pitched I couldn’t even pick up the signal on my iPad, however, Nick was able to pick up the signal through a device he had purchased from ‘Motorhome WiFi‘. I checked it out via their Internet website but I still wasn’t sure, would this work outside of the UK and a few other questions, so I rang the number given on the Web Page and spoke to Adam, he answered all my questions and so I made the instant decision and ordered one.
Now you may have heard of that expression ‘Sod’s Law’, here I am, having just invested not an inconsiderable sum of money on a device that will boost a WiFi signal, yet every single campsite we stayed on, within the UK, had a decent signal without the need to use the device !! There were a couple of occasions when we tried it but to be honest the ‘proof of the pudding‘ would be when we crossed the channel to Europe, but that would not be for several months, so the Motorhome WiFi iBoost Device remained in its packaging.
Finally, the ‘Big Day’ arrived and we could not only enjoy an extended ‘Winter Sun’ break but we would get to put the device through its paces. Now, I like to be honest, there were a few problems initially but these were ‘all‘ due to ‘User Error‘. How was I supposed to know that the device would remember the last frequency I had ‘selected‘ until after having ‘selected‘ the new one, I had pressed the ‘Change‘ button and then the ‘Apply‘ button, an easy mistake that I am sure anyone could make, except of course those that just happened to read the ‘Instructions Leaflet‘ thoughtfully provided in the box !! But just when I thought I had mastered it, those ‘gremlins’ got in on the act. In ‘Alvor’ on the Algarve in Portugal, we stayed on the ‘Aire’ there on three separate occasions. The ‘Aire’ did not provide WiFi, but on conducting a scan on the iBoost device it showed a good signal at a beach restaurant only about One Hundred Metres away, the only problem, it required a ‘Password‘, you may already have read the associated ‘Post‘ so I will not recount it here, but having obtained the password and inserting this in the appropriate place on the iBoost main menu page, it all worked and hey Presto we had WiFi on all our devices inside the comfort of ‘Big Momma’. We left that Aire and went to another one, one which did provide ‘free’ WiFi, via a password, however, the signal was weak and kept dropping out, no problems, we have the password, we have the iBoost. Only the iBoost Main Menu Page didn’t this time ask for a ‘Password’ it asked for a ‘WEP Key‘, a what ? I certainly didn’t have one of those !! I even changed the menu to reflect ‘No Security’ but this didn’t work either. Now, I can only think that these, and several other sites, where we later encountered the same issue, had got wise to all these people using several personal devices on their WiFi Boosters, using their limited ‘bandwidth‘ frequency, so they have changed their ‘Security Access Protocols‘. However, on our second visit to the ‘Aire’ at Alvor, we parked quite literally just a few feet from where we had been parked on our first visit, and we could still pick up the Restaurant WiFi signal, I remembered to do the ‘Change‘ and ‘Apply‘ procedures, but could not ‘connect‘ to it on the iBoost device !! In the end we gave up and found a local Cafe where we used their ‘free’ and very fast WiFi signal, however, it turned out to be quite an expensive Internet Session, although Shazza was more than happy coming away at the end of the night having had two ‘Orgasms by the River” !! if you haven’t already done so, read the appropriate earlier blog post. On our third visit to this same ‘Aire’ we parked in a totally different position, this time within no more than Fifty metres of the restaurant and with an unobstructed view, but to no avail. How could we get a perfectly good signal and connection on our first visit and, being One Hundred Metres away, but whilst getting a signal couldn’t get the iBoost to connect on the subsequent visits ? It will forever remain a mystery to me, but my opinion of this ‘investment’ was rapidly going downhill at this time.
when we crossed the border into Spain we did several nights ‘Free Camping’, on one Aire, with no WiFi, we could only pick up ‘secure’ frequencies on the iPad, private ones rather than the Encrypted public ones like Hotels, Restaurants or Bars. However, using the iBoost device we picked up a local service provider that offered thirty-minutes free then you had to pay. I connected to it through the iBoost and my first thirty-minute session lasted for three hours before the system ‘kicked me off’ !! We used this ‘thirty-minute’ service for the next couple of days, each day getting those ‘few’ extra minutes !! So the iBoost was back in favour and we were on a ‘winning streak’. At our next ‘Aire’ the WiFi signal could only be picked up if you were stood quite literally outside the Reception office, however, iBoost was called into action once more and provided us with ‘in-house‘ WiFi yet again.
Another test for the iBoost would be Morocco, all the reports that I had read had stated that this may be a ‘poor’ country but it was right up there on the technology fr, ont and WiFi was as readily accessible as anywhere else. But, my question was, would this be available outside of the major towns and Cities and the answer is a most definite yes. However, would the ‘Campsites’ we would be using have such a modern service, the answer, at the first two Campsites we used was Yes, the quality of the signal strength was comparable to those experienced in both Spain and Portugal in that we needed the assistance of the iBoost if we wanted to have a ‘in-house’ service. but in-house we got and as evidenced by my previous extremely frequent publishing of blog posts whilst being here, including photographs, so I think that you will no doubt agree, that the iBoost has certainly worked pretty damn well. The Campsite at Agadir, being in the City as well as catering for over two hundred Motorhomes, came as a bit of a surprise with not providing any on-site WiFi. With the iBoost having performed so well I was expecting much of the same here, so it came as a huge disappointment to discover that whilst the initial ‘scan’ revealed a whole host of both ‘None-Secure and Secure’ frequencies, many within the frequency range of the device, even though showing as ‘connected’, no stable signal could be maintained. I went through each step, over and over again, moving the ‘receiver’, which I had placed on the roof, in numerous positions, each time conducting a re-scan to try to get the optimum signal strength, to no avail, it just wasn’t going to happen. So, WiFi Cafes it would have to be, although fortunately we found a very handy MacDonald’s, within a short walking distance from the Campsite, with a very fast connection speed. So although Shazza, on this occasion, would have to forego having a couple of ‘Orgasms by the River‘, at least I could give her a ‘McFlurry‘ !! Let it never be said that I don’t know how to give a girl a good time !!
However, like all good stories, even this one has a happy ending, well for now at least as the journey is by no means over yet, but as you will know from my more recent Posts, at the second time of asking the iBoost once again came good and we currently enjoy a very good ‘ in house’, Internet Connection.
So for us, and for what we require access to the Internet for, the iBoost is currently doing what we need it to. However, there is no way that this is an all singing, all dancing, super special piece of Technology, it certainly has its limitations and can at times be a bit temperamental. But, for what we want, it is, ‘generally‘ doing what it is supposed to do. If you need more reliable, and frequent, access to the Internet then there are ‘other’ options but you may just need ‘deeper pockets‘ than I have. There are also ‘other’ alternatives, namely these ‘Dongle’ or ‘MiFi’ device thingies (or is that one and the same thing ?), however, these too have their limitations and are prone to malfunctions as one of my fellow Motorhoming friends has recently discovered.
The big question for us was ‘Would this Motorhome WiFi iBoost Device’ enable us to have ‘Free’ Internet connection, in our Motorhome, when we are away in foreign Countries. All I can say is that right at this very moment, we are sat in ‘Big Momma’, on a Campsite, in Morocco, that provides no WiFi service, and whilst I am sat here drafting this Post, Shazza is having a ‘Skype Video Chat’ with her mum, who is hundreds of miles away in England !!