Get “Online”… Buy a Computer

Staying connected with loved ones is important.  Using a computer to access the Internet is a great way to communicate with friends and family for free using tools like email and Skype.  The Internet is also a good resource for finding information, entertainment, and news from around the world or your own back yard.  Computers and the Internet create a whole new world to explore for those who use them. It’s easy to do if you take the time to learn how it’s done.

First, you need to purchase a computer.  This can be intimidating if you’re not informed.  There’s a lot of technology jargon associated with computers, most of which sounds confusing.  Don’t be fooled.  It’s easier then you think.

The first thing to decide is whether to buy a desktop computer or a laptop.  Desktop computers include several separate parts, and the computers are usually set up in a certain location because they are big and difficult to move around.

Laptops are designed to be portable, which is why they can run on battery power.  They are small, compact, and all the separate parts are built in, making it easy to move and setup.  To access the Internet, most laptops have WIFI, which means wireless internet connection.  Some retirement homes are equipped with WIFI, allowing laptop users to get on the Internet from anywhere in the residence.  Coffee shops and shopping malls often offer WIFI Internet to customers.

Laptops can be taken to a friend or professional when you require assistance, which is harder to do with a desktop. Generally, laptops are a better choice for seniors.  They are easier to handle, smaller, and are designed to move around, which helps if space is limited, like in an apartment or condo.  If you’re buying something new, a laptop should be your first choice.

Before buying a laptop, determine how big the screen should be.  Laptops called “Netbooks” are often the cheapest options, but they have small screens (10 or 11 inches).  Being so small, it can be difficult to read.  The size of the screen also affects the size of the laptop’s keyboard.  A Netbook’s buttons will be smaller too.  An average sized laptop has a 14 or 15 inch screen, which is often good enough.

You should also figure out what you intend to use the laptop for before you buy one.  If you’re interested in using it primarily for the Internet, the cheapest option from your local ‘big box’ store will work just fine; just don’t forget to consider the screen size.  An important thing to know is that using the Internet does not require a powerful computer.  You do not need to break the bank just to get an email account or search Google.  On the other hand, if you want to use your laptop for photography and art projects, you’ll need to spend more money to get more power.

Next step, email… Stay tuned Laughing

Chris Bint, Vice President

Elder Technology Assistance Group (ETAG)