I’m a self-confessed technology nerd and an Apple hipster (I liked them and used their products 15 years before they were “cool”). When I came to Rio, I brought my Macbook Air with me and that’s it. It was working great until I started my journey here and the sound stopped working, the battery lost its “juice” and it began to shutdown on its own. The random shutdowns were fixed by three benjamins (converters), one on top of the other, and a healthy use of tape. Since I work from my computer, my current problems have me searching for a replacement. I’m hoping an iPad 2 will do the trick but how do I go about getting one here?
Back in California, I had played with the iPad at the Apple store and didn’t think much of it. I type quite a bit and the virtual keyboard just didn’t sit right with me. Luckily, there are real keyboards that can work with the iPad 2 so that solves that. The price tag back home is US$499 (R$870) for the most basic version of the tablet, coming to around US$600 (R$1000) with tax and the keyboard. In Brazil, together with import taxes and any kind of markup, the same device goes for US$950 (R$1650) alone or US$1100 (R$1900) with a keyboard. Being rather broke, what that all means is I’m out of luck to the tune of US$600, not to mention the additional US$500 hike in “import taxes”, etc.
As for other options, one includes the person receiving the item to have a friend send them a US-bought computing device through the mail and hoping it doesn’t pass through Customs where they might get dinged and have to pay a few hundred dollars to have it released. I’ve heard that anything under US$500 can go through Customs without a problem as long as there’s a receipt that accompanies the item(s). From reading the Customs website, I see that items are taxed at 50% of the amount over US$500, meaning my US$600 investment would be taxed a mere US$50. If that’s correct, then whether it passes through Customs or not, it’s not that much of an issue.
My second option would mean waiting until early 2012 when the iPad 2, which will be built domestically by Foxconn Brazil starting in December, will come to the masses here. When President Rousseff took office, one of her promises was to bring tablet devices to the local market at a more affordable price. After looking at the options, it was decided last spring that the iPad would be the best bet. Since then, there have been many hiccups in the process but the latest reports say production plans are back on track.
For both those that have bought their imported iPads at higher prices and those that will soon own the domestic version, I’m hoping the ease of transporting them around town and the lower cost will open up Brazil to the work-from-a-cafe culture that the US has had for several years. I’d love to do such a thing but unfortunately it makes a person stand out a little more than I feel comfortable with.
In the Zona Sul of Rio, some of my American friends have noticed recently that iPads are being used freely by passengers on the metro. Also, some of the Starbucks that have popped up around Rio have started to attract people (aka, table-tenants) who, for the price of a coffee, stay as long as possible. Last time I checked, at the Botafogo mall, the entire seating area was full, all with people typing away at their laptops and iPhones. Together with the coming of the Brazilian iPad, it’s a sign that the times are starting to change…well, at least in Rio de Janeiro.
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