Portable computers

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BookSaver
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Portable computers

Postby BookSaver » Sat May 28, 2011 7:14 am

Tech advice and opinions requested, please. My desktop computer is several years old but still running fine so I don't want to replace it yet. However, I would like something portable. As usual, I am confused by the variety of choices.

Laptop
Notebook
Netbook
Ipad & other tablets

What is the difference between these, other than size? I mean, the Ipad looks like the most expensive option, so what features does it have that the others don't, why would I even consider it?

(Now that I think of it, I'm a PC user not a MAC so even to look at an Ipad, wouldn't I have to learn a new language? Do other tablets even come close to Ipad for features?)

I think a laptop will probably be physically larger than what I want because the whole point is to be portable.

Looks like they all have plenty of hard drive space. Other than physical size of the case and viewing screen, what is the difference between a notebook and a netbook?

I don't think I'm considered a demanding computer user. I just want something I can carry to a meeting or coffee shop. I don't have time to play games so don't need the extra hardware for them. I have gotten fond of being able to see photos that family and friends put on Facebook. I do a lot of research for sewing projects, and post to a few discussion forums, so I do use the keyboard a lot.

So are my main decisions going to be size of screen and the price?

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Re: Portable computers

Postby BookSaver » Sat May 28, 2011 7:16 am

Next question: Firewall!

The whole point of getting a portable is to be able to use it at public wi-fi places -- restaurants, public libraries, truck stops. I need security!

Where do I learn about firewalls? How do I make my machine the most secure possible?

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OKay
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Re: Portable computers

Postby OKay » Sat May 28, 2011 8:26 am

Wow! Do you know how to ask some good questions! I'm sure you will get plenty of advice from the knowledgeable ladies here.

I need to get breakfast started so I am only going to post my solutions to all these issues.

I went with a Netbook with extra memory. Most netbooks comes with 1GB of memory but it makes it slow, so I bought a 2 GB sim (about $50) and upgraded it. With that hardware I can now do everything I need to do....and it is fast! I easily put the netbook in my purse and take it with me. I can carry it everywhere in the house one handed. A normal day will have me using the netbook in the kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom and living room.....so you can see it is truly portable.

Firewalls - most netbooks come with Windows 7 starter as the operating system. It is good about setting up your security. I go with its recommendations 99% of the time. When you connect to a wi-fi spot (say your at a book store and want to use their internet service) the software will ask you if this is a Home Network or a Public Network - if you select Public Network then it will configure your firewall settings to protect you from strangers.

I like using the IPad, Nook, etc and am seriously considering buying another one. They are FANTASTIC for their purpose but no keyboard & software I need keeps it from being the main stream pc usage.

Something that might only matter to me.....I love the colors the netbooks come in. I have a hot pink one that is my main netbook and a purple one that is my backup. As you can tell - I love love love my netbooks. :)

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Re: Portable computers

Postby BookSaver » Sun May 29, 2011 8:17 am

Thanks for the info, Okay!

I borrowed the Consumer Reports magazine from the library and copied the chart about netbooks. I also looked at a few sites online to compare prices on the brands that CR recommends.

The colors are fun. HP even has a couple with plaid covers. 8-)

DH and I are going to The Big City today to see what stores have in stock.

I attend so many committee meetings these days that it will be very helpful to have word processor & spreadsheet programs available, even when I'm in buildings without Wi-fi. There are 3 meetings coming up this week alone.

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Nancy
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Re: Portable computers

Postby Nancy » Sun May 29, 2011 12:57 pm

We have older sprint phones and I can access my yahoo and fb with that! Amazing.

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Re: Portable computers

Postby BookSaver » Mon May 30, 2011 11:51 am

Thanks again to Okay for the advice. I was able to be more confident in choosing the right tool to buy.

At first I wrote "the right toy" but I feel that if the netbook were a toy, I'd be using it to play games. Instead, I bought it to help make some of my work easier. That makes it a TOOL.

DH and I went to 2 stores. The first does not have any kind of a service department and the salesperson did not know the difference between "memory" and "hard drive" so I just made notes of the machine's info and price, and we moved on.

The second store had several machines, and 3 of them were on Consumer Report's top 5 recommended list. I tested the 3 keyboards and screens. They were all the same price with the same size memory and hard drive. The differences in keyboard touch vs. battery life vs. screen appearance were so slight, that I bought the 1 that was in stock. Actually, they had 2 of the same brand in stock so I took the 1 with the pink plaid cover instead of basic black, same price.

I asked about buying additional memory. The salesman (college age) flipped the display model over and took off the back, said the memory card is easy to change out. He did not offer that their service department could take install it for me. I decided to hold off of doing any hardware surgery myself until I'm more familiar with how the machine handles right out of the box.

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Re: Portable computers

Postby BookSaver » Mon May 30, 2011 12:11 pm

Next question: free wifi networks --

I took the netbook to the library to do the setup. Turns out that even though I found the password for the library's wifi, it still could not connect. I'm guessing that the director shut down the wifi access since the library is closed for the long holiday weekend. I'll check with her tomorrow.

After the library, I went to the truck stop to test their connection. The screen showed 9 wifi networks there. This truck stop has 3 restaurants, a convenience store, and separate gas pumps for cars vs. big trucks -- I guess it's possible each place has its own wifi network, some of them password protected. That confused me, plus a bus full of people came in and the place was suddenly very noisy, so I shut down and came home.

When there are that many connections available, and all say "strong signal" -- how do I choose which one(s) are safe? Is it just a matter of asking for the network name at the cash register when I make my purchase?


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