Chromebook experience in China

I recently purchased a HP Chromebook to replace my personal travel computer. In the US it’s been excellent for light casual browsing, email, youtube, etc use. The weight (< 3 lbs) and battery life (4-5 hrs avg) make it super portable. Well, I'm taking it to China today and I'm not overly optimistic about how it will perform there. Having lived in China for 2 years I quickly realized that the great firewall of China degrades google's services. At one time, they outright blocked it, but eventually (I believe around 2009 or 2010) changed their internal policy to instead just cripple it. It effectively makes the Google services unreliable and therefore frustrating to use. Very clever approach to deter people from using Google and to instead use Baidu and other cloned business of successful western companies. While living there, I setup a personal VPN running from a server in the US. It worked wonderfully for the time we lived in China. I still use it when I travel to harden the security for my network connections overseas. The day before my trip, I tried setting up my Chromebook with OPenVPN. To be fair, I only spent about a half an hour trying to figure out how to make it work and was ultimately unsuccessful. I've had little trouble getting various clients on just about every other OS (Windows, Linux, OSX) to work. I just couldn't get it to connect properly so here I am headed to China without a VPN for my chromebook. I'll have more information on the experience over the next few days after I reach the mainland which I'll post below soon. If you have suggestions on how to get OpenVPN working on a chromebook please post a commment below.

Does republic wireless moto g work overseas?

I’m headed to Shanghai China today with my Moto G republic wireless cell phone. I’ve had the phone now for a few months and aside from a few quirks, it’s been a very good experience in the US. Will my moto g work overseas? Well, we’re going to find out this week – in all places, in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

I’ve read reports of others experiences using their republic wireless phones abroad in Wifi Mode. I switched to the $5/month plan today which allows VoIP calls only. It’s no secret that mainland China internet users are among the most challenged among large countries regarding internet censorship. I think this will be a good test of RW and I’ll provide an update later this week when I am able to try to make a call.

If you’ve been to mainland China with a RW phone, please drop a comment, Id love to hear about your experience.

Update 12/10/2014

Nearly two weeks in China now and have been using my Motorola G cell phone in both Shanghai and Guangzhou cities with Republic Wireless in Wifi mode. Overall, the experience has been very good.
The call quality for wifi calls has been on par with what I experience in the US. Call drop rates are very low. I’ve had a few problems finding wifi when I’m away from the hotel but that’s about it.

The cities have free wifi in many areas, but in China you often have to supply a local phone number to which an access code is sent via SMS which then allows you to use the free wifi (this is the case
in CHinese Starbucks stores). This creates an issue in actually being able to use the local free wifi since I have a US number and the system only works for local Chinese numbers.

In the nice hotels, the rooms all have wifi, and calls are easy to make – it’s not different than if you were in the US.

One thing I wonder about is the security of the phone – not just in China, but anywhere. I’m not sure if the VoIP connection is hardened via SSL or some other mechanism, so this could possibly
be a security issue for some people but I’m not overly concerned about it.

Bottom line, Republic Wireless Wifi calls work in China.