I was given the Xcom Mobile Hotspot to take on a trial run on a recent trip through Europe. Being a writer, photographer and working social media, there is nothing more frustrating than not having an internet connection. Simply put, I can’t do my job, tweeting pictures from different countries, posting on my blog, you get the story. My experience in Northern and Southern Europe has varied widely, but I can say in general that the online connections if available are spotty and pretty slow, unless you’re willing to pay a premium. 

The Xcom plan I was using costs $14.95 a day, which is a great deal if you need that online connection. I can say this because I was on an earlier trip through Europe, and it was very difficult to get online, or  the bandwidth available was poor at best-think 10 minutes to connect upload a small image and tweet it !

What you get:

Xcom1

Included are a carrying case, the device itself which can fit in your pocket and a universal charger with USB connection and cord. You will also find instructions on connecting and toll free numbers (for the US and Europe) in case you have any problems. The coolest I thought was that in a small window on the front of the device, are two scrolling lines, one with the SSID and the other with the password, this is great because you don’t have to worry about forgetting either of them. The downside is that if you lose the device anyone can use it, so contact XCOM immediately should this happen.

We began our trip in Basel Switzerland, the hotel did have wifi, but as mentioned earlier it was painfully slow and hard to keep a continuous connection. So in retaliation I fired up the XCOM device waited for it to find a connection, entered the SSID and password and in less than 5 minutes I was online.  Sending and receiving e mail images and posting was a breeze. After 2 nights in Basel we boarded our vessel for a river cruise of the Rhine river that would take us all the way up to Amsterdam. During the cruise we entered France and Germany, so the Xcom device had to choose between carries in different countries. This along with passing through some very rural areas the device did very well with one exception, at about day three the device stopped sending and receiving data. I contacted Xcom with the problem, (using the ships internet), and they told me the line had to be reset with the local carrier and it would take about 12 hours. It was less than 12 and after the reset  the device worked without any problems for the rest of the trip.

When I was first told that I could rent a hotspot for use in Europe or most foreign countries, my first reaction was that, “I’ll be fine, I can just use what’s available”. Well you know how that worked out, what a headache. That being said, I can and do recommend the XCOM hotspot for travel. It takes away the frustration of slow, or non existent internet connections. And these days if you want a fast and reliable connection, you’ll end up paying anyway, and still be at the mercy of tiny bandwidth and dropped connections. XCOM is always adding new countries for more coverage, so when you’re ready for that trip of a lifetime pay them a visit, and get some internet independence   http://www.xcomglobal.com/