Does Technology Work on Bermuda?

When we first arrived on the island we were warned that the internet disappears when it rains – I am gullible, but this did seem a little far-fetched.  I don’t spend $$ on fast cars, designer handbags, gourmet dining, but I do like to have the latest technology so internet and its accompanying gadgetry is high on my personal triangle of needs (Maslow)

I have in the past been frequently disappointed – our flat in SW London struggles to reach speeds of 1Mbit/s and subsequently if you ask the Smart TV or computer to stream the latest Sherlock Holmes the response is a resounding ‘I don’t think so’ – a wheel of dots as it tries to buffer something out of the ether, a rainbow of inactivity before it understands the impossibility of your request and concludes: ‘Computer says No‘ (Little Britain) . This particular technology-hates-me-situation is inexplicable – across the road they have an Infinity of options  – somehow our building, despite being almost new, adjacent to a major rail station, and most definitely within the M25, sits in a ditch of no reception, is wired to the wrong cabinet and lacks the necessary cabling.  I keep hoping things will improve but it is nearly four years now and even the local MP has failed to make connections.

I suppose if London cannot manage fast broadband then a remote island in the Atlantic might struggle. Sadly, it does, and while not all technology falls into the Bermuda Triangle, some does and so we have had to be inventive in finding solutions.

The services providing broadband are Bermuda Telephone Company, Cable Vision,  Digicell and TeleBermuda and Logic Communications.  It is complicated though and we currently have the broadband cabling by Cable Vision with the broadband supply from Logic (or is it the other way round?)  This two-company provision leads to each blaming the other for any problem, what in medicine would be called Collusion of Anonymity after Balint.  I experienced this in the first few weeks – the problem was no internet: Cable Vision claimed that as we had TV it was not on their side while Logic claimed their signal was reaching our home so it was not their problem … several phone calls, trips to exchange equipment, waiting in queues, visiting technology departments in out-of-the-way places … in the end it was actually both of them, we had the wrong modem from CableVision and the wrong service from Logic.  One day later, all sorted. So far so good.

There is a whole shelf of gadgets that comes with this  – the cable plugs into a modem that connects to a router (you rent the modem but need your own router – and when you go to buy one remember it is called a ROWTER not a ROOTER) and the TV needs to be connected via a  box called Explorer 8300HD, a DVR that you rent from Cable Vision for $55 per month. 

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We have added to this: a region 1 DVD player for US DVDs, a region 2 Bluray player for UK DVDs, a PAL-NTSC converter to ensure the region 2 DVD player can communicate with the American Plasma TV, HDMI leads and an HDMI switch because our TV only has one HDMI input, a Soundbar for better music quality and another switch because the laptop and Blu Ray player have to connect separately to the speaker and most recently (as in this week) we have bought a neat little box to stream films (note these are called movies). We probably need a cooling cabinet for all this kit!

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It might sound as if I know what I am talking about – the reality is I have a son “in IT” and he has endless patience with my stupid questions.  I think even he began to get grumpy when I asked him to solve the issue of no Netflix on the WDTV streamer – I forget the 4 hour time difference and sometimes that he has a job of his own.

So far you probably cannot see the problem of technology in Bermuda – it sounds as if we have it all sorted.  This has taken almost 9 months to get this far – acquiring the kit is not easy when Amazon only ship books to Bermuda and there are only one or two shops selling the hardware. When my husband needed a new laptop he had the choice of just one, or a wait of maybe a few weeks and pay import duties and shipping. By shipping they do actually mean on a ship – these arrive on a regular basis but container contents are somewhat random.

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There are four shops in Hamilton that sell computing stuff: The Complete Office (don’t judge them by the website, they are great help in the shop, but maybe web-design not their strength), PTech, run by the Phoenix group,  AF Smith (mainly accessories) or iClick, the authorised Apple reseller.  There are some places further out of town that I haven’t been to – one in Bakery Lane called RedLaser and another I have driven past on the way to the wine wholesale place.  The main four are all to be found at the lower end of Reid Street, useful that they are close, but it doesn’t mean you have the degree of choice that say Currys PC World can offer. I treated myself to a new iMac so   the retail outlet was obvious, but they only had one model of the size I was interested in and only one in stock!  That is the relevant word – stock – it is difficult for the shops to carry stock, old models may not sell and cannot easily be returned to manufacturer so while they will always order an IT item for you they are most unlikely to have what you want in the store room when you want it. There is an outlet called PriceRight in Pembroke Parish where they stock just out of fashion models of TVs, DVD players etc. but you will need research the particular models yourself and their stock is totally random.

Having purchased enough kit to put a significant drain on the electricity grid (and remember you need transformers for any British equipment brought over here as the voltage is 110 not 240) you then have to decide what services you want.  Before we really understood what American TV is like we had set up the full Monty when it came to channels and programme options – now we know a little better and really all we actually wanted was HD and Movie channels without adverts.  The wonderful thing about the Explorer 8300HD is that it will pause play, so I can top up my glass of wine without missing the film, and record films when we are watching something else.  With that we have managed 9 months of films, many we have not before seen and some we will not watch again, but it has worked well. I can’t say I have grown used to American TV, I find myself opting for BBC America for the comfort of familiarity.

Our latest trial (in all its meanings) has been Netflix – introduced when my daughter visited and after much nagging from my son.  So I paid for a subscription and my computer is happy to access the limited selection available on the island  – Netflix seem to think we are part of South America  – subtitle options just Brazilian Portugese or Spanish!  But then my husband brought home the new pet, a WDTV box that is to replace my ever-so-old-and-slow laptop and Netflix won’t talk to this box 😦

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We have found a solution that involves iTunes, conversion software and memory sticks and now for around $400 we have succeeded in watching a whole episode from Firefly – we are happy:)

To answer your question – yes it works, but you need some creative thinking and will end up with a lot of remotes.

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