Please help me, need to buy a computer

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steve321
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

tibbitts wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:31 pm
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:03 pm
000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:45 pm

Also, you should make 2 backup copies of all your data before doing anything above.
I have one external disk, so I guess I should buy another? Also, I thought perhaps of saving at least the most important data on Google Drive. Is that a good plan? Is that safe and is it all right to stock confidential data?
I also put my pictures on Amazon in a space where you have unlimited storage for pics.
I only store my most critical documents on the cloud (Google Drive or whatever) now, but since I no longer have an office (outside my home), I've lost transparent access to offsite storage for one of my backup external drives. To some extent that should factor into whether to use the cloud vs. external drive backup. If you have very confidential data (what do you consider confidential?) you could encrypt it, the complexity and effectiveness of which varies with different cloud providers.
Well I'd say the most confidential data would be documents on my finances, such as bank account statements I downloaded, scans of lease agreements for the properties I let, and even a Word document where I wrote the log in details of all of my accounts (but not the whole password, just a hint that should allow me to remember in case I start forgetting things). I store all those on the external disk drive, I guess it's safer than Google Drive?
But for al the rest I think Google Drive should be fine, right?
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

So basically at the moment I am thinking that getting a Chromebook (thank you to the person suggesting it) may be a good idea since they are cheap (I like all that is cheap and cheerful) and they seem secure to access my brokerage account online. There shouldn't be any issues with watching movies on Amazon right? Apparently you can download apps, and I am already familiar with them on my Samsung smartphone.

Then I would use an external disk drive for extra storage or to store important stuff.

One more question: you can store 15 GB on Google Drive I think, so what's there to stop you form say creating 2 accounts and getting 30 GB? I don't think it's unethical, it's not prohibited I don't think.

Finally, would you say that Chromebook is better than an iPad? I thought that might be another possibility when looking at Chromebook.
Success does not bring happiness. In fact, happiness IS success. | 'There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.' Oscar Wilde
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:25 pm
tibbitts wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:23 pm
000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:45 pm
If the OP already otherwise needs to buy a new computer, he could try it and if it doesn't work, go buy the new computer anyway.

For the 90% of average computer users who only use a web browser and document program, there is no advantage to using Windows or Mac either...
As you point out, maybe I missed it but I didn't see exactly why the OP feels a new computer is necessary. Was there some mention of this being a 2015 model? That's not very old, unless it was a very minimal configuration.

One advantage of Windows is tied to the primary use being specifically MS Office, vs. some generic Office programs. Even with 365, for troubleshooting any obscure issues, the simplest platform is a MS browser running on a MS operating system.
Good point.

OP, how old is this computer?

If it's not very old, a fresh install of Windows 10 could also be done. Maybe you can do it within your current install?

Or you could just buy a disk from a store or microsoft.com. But that will require similar steps as installing any other OS, including linux.
It's not very old but it's getting slower and the battery does not work at all so it always needs to be connected (it's a Dell).
Then I have a second one, an oldish HP (perhaps 10 years) but it's also not working very well.
Basically I want to make sure I won't have them break down and be left with nothing. I am probably a bit paranoid but in case of another lockdown I want to make sure I am connected to the outside world through internet.
I will look into the fresh install, but it might be too difficult for me.
Probably I can get a cheap Chromebook so I will be safe whatever happens, and then in parallel try to sort out the problems with the existing PCs like you suggest.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by junior »

The IPAD interface is much more like a big Samsung phone than a windows pc. Iphones don't even come with physical keyboards, they are sold separately and apps are not primarily designed for them.

Chromebook's are weird. You can put Android apps like those from your Samsung phone on them, but they tend to come with a keyboard and are a bit more laptop-like.

I personally would not enjoy using a IPAD or chromebook instead of a windows PC or Mac because they are more limited if you want to do anything remotely power user like. At any rate if you are going to try something new like a chromebook I'd buy it somewhere like Best Buy where you can return it if you don't like it without a restocking fee. Best Buy will have a decent selection of pretty much everything mentioned here.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by NOgmacks »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:31 pm One more question: you can store 15 GB on Google Drive I think, so what's there to stop you form say creating 2 accounts and getting 30 GB? I don't think it's unethical, it's not prohibited I don't think.

Finally, would you say that Chromebook is better than an iPad? I thought that might be another possibility when looking at Chromebook.
It's not unethical at all. They just don't care. Pretty soon, you will like the convenience of not having to switch accounts. I have been using google docs, google drive for at least 10 years now. I wouldn't do anything different. Chromebooks are cheap, they do their job. For your use case, you don't have to buy anything else.

ALso, one more thing. Google Photos has this setting where the pictures does not count towards your 15GB limit. And you have tools /tips to clean up your gmail etc.

Either way, looking at your use case, you would be hard pressed to hit your limit. Some things I do with my chromebook, that I am currently typing in:

1. Finances.
2. Taxes
3. Google photos
4. General browsing.
5. Watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube...
6. Zoom meetings.
7. Remote into my work virtual machine.
8. Google docs, sheets...
9. Webex Teams for my kids school.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

NOgmacks wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:22 am
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:31 pm One more question: you can store 15 GB on Google Drive I think, so what's there to stop you form say creating 2 accounts and getting 30 GB? I don't think it's unethical, it's not prohibited I don't think.

Finally, would you say that Chromebook is better than an iPad? I thought that might be another possibility when looking at Chromebook.
It's not unethical at all. They just don't care. Pretty soon, you will like the convenience of not having to switch accounts. I have been using google docs, google drive for at least 10 years now. I wouldn't do anything different. Chromebooks are cheap, they do their job. For your use case, you don't have to buy anything else.

ALso, one more thing. Google Photos has this setting where the pictures does not count towards your 15GB limit. And you have tools /tips to clean up your gmail etc.

Either way, looking at your use case, you would be hard pressed to hit your limit. Some things I do with my chromebook, that I am currently typing in:

1. Finances.
2. Taxes
3. Google photos
4. General browsing.
5. Watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube...
6. Zoom meetings.
7. Remote into my work virtual machine.
8. Google docs, sheets...
9. Webex Teams for my kids school.
sounds good that's all I'll need, I was not sure whether watching Amazon Prime (and perhaps Netflix) could be a problem but I'm glad it will work fine.
Do you think a touch screen is a good idea?
Any particular model that you or any BH reading this can recommend? I'm looking for a simple, basic but hopefully long lasting model. Saw names like Asus, Acer, Lenovo and never heard of any of them :o
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by Valuethinker »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:17 pm
000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:14 pm
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:02 pm
000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:33 pm Could put linux on your current computer. Runs great on old hardware.
on an old Dell? And how would I do that? I can buy it online?
There are various free distros.

Debian
Fedora

A lightweight package manager like XFCE could be used.
Thanks; is it easy and self-explanatory so I can do it myself from home?
If you are not very familiar with computers and Operating Systems I would avoid Linux.

You have a sort of Linux on your phone if you have an Android phone. But on a PC it requires quite a bit of work to get to something that is normally usable, I believe.

You are basic either buying a Windows machine or a Mac. For a Windows machine the hardware is all very similar - all makers buy their components from the same suppliers, and basically use the same assembly plants in China - Dells come off one line, HP computers off a line in the building next door. The hard bit is trying to ensure they have not gone for some cheap component.

A clean Windows install is, these days, pretty user-friendly from the Get Go. Windows 10 is supposed to have higher security -- it just happens to be the most attacked Operating System. Security and other updates will come at you semi randomly, your computer will always be warning about installing them when you shut down - and you should install them when prompted to.

MS Excel, MS Word - if you exchange documents with other people, you will need these programmes. Office 365 is the way it's done now - i.e. you effectively rent your software from Microsoft.

Be sure and have a SSD (Solid State Drive) as one of your drives - that will make the computer blindingly fast to boot up compared to an old computer.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by crinkles2 »

I find that you can run old software much longer on Windows machines than on Macs, using compatibility modes.

I'm not an expert, just my lived experience!

We have recently bought a very expensive tower computer, in part to let the kids enjoy gaming with a strong system.

Have owned an iMac since 2012, it's ok, but it needed to be reborn on an external SSD from which it boots now.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by anoop »

I’m a big Apple fan. Besides no bloatware, the entire user experience is much better thought out than Windows. The 2020 MacBook Air is a great machine, even the base version with the i3 processor which costs $999.

You might need a dongle to connect your external drive, though, unless it has a USB-C connection.

If you have an iPhone you will benefit by being able to send texts and take/make calls on the laptop.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

Thanks for all these replies, I'm learning a lot. Since however I am really useless with computers and I'd like to make sure I have something working in case this one has a problem and say there's a lockdown (just planning for the worst), I am thinking of buying a Chromebook as they are cheap and don't need anitivirus nor any OS installation. I could order one today or tomorrow on Amazon. Then perhaps later on I can get something nicer after I've learnt more.

So, if I buy a Chromebook it will have the same connections as my PC, in particular to the external disk drive where I store my stuff, right?

Any models you suggest? On Amazon there are very cheap ones, like below 300$ (250£), but some customers complain they don't run very well...
Success does not bring happiness. In fact, happiness IS success. | 'There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.' Oscar Wilde
acegolfer
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

AlphaC wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:37 pm If you have a personal Microsoft Office 365 account (annual subscription required) you can use Word and Excel from almost any browser on almost any machine.
??? How's this different for free MSFT live account?
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:12 pm
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:09 pm It's basic things like Emails, video chats and web surfing (including youtube videos, Amazon Prime videos etc) and (very) occasional Excel spreadsheets. Some printing of pdf documents. Will write documents in Word and perhaps save in pdf. That's all.
Ah, occasionally I film myself when exercising to check my technique, but could do that with a smart phone.
In addition to these points I forgot a very important one (and relevant to this Forum). I will need to safely access my bank and brokerage accounts online (that's one of the reasons why I mentioned antivirus)
I own both windows and chromebook. I use my chromebook to access my bank accounts because it's much more secured.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:31 pm So basically at the moment I am thinking that getting a Chromebook (thank you to the person suggesting it) may be a good idea since they are cheap (I like all that is cheap and cheerful) and they seem secure to access my brokerage account online. There shouldn't be any issues with watching movies on Amazon right? Apparently you can download apps, and I am already familiar with them on my Samsung smartphone.

Then I would use an external disk drive for extra storage or to store important stuff.

One more question: you can store 15 GB on Google Drive I think, so what's there to stop you form say creating 2 accounts and getting 30 GB? I don't think it's unethical, it's not prohibited I don't think.

Finally, would you say that Chromebook is better than an iPad? I thought that might be another possibility when looking at Chromebook.
1. For amazon prime video, you can download the android app but it's recommended that you use the web app. Why? Android apps run in a container in chromebook so the performance is not ideal. Ppl expect android apps would work perfectly in chromebooks as if in an android device but they get disappointed.

2. You can use 2 accounts for 30 GB. Never tried it myself, though. But note that if you get a new chromebook, it comes with 1yr 100GB gdrive for free.

3. iPad is better in some respect. But reading from your posts on "your needs", chromebook will be better.
Last edited by acegolfer on Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Target2019
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by Target2019 »

OP, early on you mentioned needing Word and Excel. You will need an Office 365 subscription of course to do this on Chromebook.

As I went through this thread and all of the great ideas, one thing came to mind over and over. Your purchase of a computing device should be driven by your needs. Only you can determine that. For example, you have 2 computers now, I think. Why do you have them? What functions do they perform for you?

With a short list of *your* needs, you can decide whether to 1) add one more computing device to your mix, 2) add one and subtract one, 3) add one and subtract two. This decision is about the future and how you will be able to keep the devices running. This decision also implies you need to migrate a function from one computing device to another. For example, if you add a device and do not securely trash one, you add 50% to your maintenance/admin time. And if you do not do this, how do you get support now? If you have a younger person nearby who is tech aware, of course they can get you through minor problems.

My next observation is, whatever you buy, you are taking on the reputation of the manufacturer and reseller. Dell and Apple are repeated though this thread because more people have had better experiences with those companies. When you get into cheaper devices (computer, tablet or chromebook) you should expect to see more complaints. Then you must deal with warranty of the original manufacturer as well as the support of the reseller.

I hope that you find this input useful, and good luck with your purchase.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

Target2019 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:21 am OP, early on you mentioned needing Word and Excel. You will need an Office 365 subscription of course to do this on Chromebook.
This is one of common misconceptions. You don't need to pay to use Word/Excel Online. I have a free MSFT live account and use Word/Excel Online.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:45 pm
tibbitts wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:27 pm Please don't get involved with Linux. Most of my career since 1995 was based on Linux, but there's just no reason for someone who doesn't use it for business or enjoy it as a hobby to get involved with the complexity and compatibility issues. There is no advantage to using Linux for the average computer user.
If the OP already otherwise needs to buy a new computer, he could try it and if it doesn't work, go buy the new computer anyway.

For the vast majority of average computer users who only use a web browser and document program, there is no advantage to using Windows or Mac either...
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:27 pm If that is not too much trouble, then yes please. Might as well do some learning in the area - never done it in my life but it's never too late to start. :happy
You can start poking around at the Debian site, which is probably better for an old computer than Ubuntu (based on Debian) or Fedora.
https://www.debian.org/CD/live/
https://www.debian.org/CD/faq/

The process itself is simple: you download a Live disk image file, burn it to a DVD, stick it in your computer, possibly move up DVD in the BIOS boot order, boot into the Live environment, see if things work, and then if you want click on the "install" button.

But any needed troubleshooting is the hard part. If you aren't familiar with the above terms, it may be quite a learning curve.

Also, you should make 2 backup copies of all your data before doing anything above.
Suggesting linux to unsophisticated computer users is like recommending options to novice investors. Fun to watch all the frustrations.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by midareff »

softmax wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:40 pm
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:30 pm Thanks for the replies so far! So in practice just purchasing a computer will be enough, nothing else needed to make it function, right? What about antivirus, does it come with the computer too?

So it looks like I'll go for a PC, Dell should do as HP was more fragile I remember. Would you agree?

On the subject of 'crapware' :wink: I guess that includes Word and Excel? That's all I use basically.

And on the subject of the OS, I know there are different types of Windows, like XP or some Windows followed by dates (sorry, I'am as ignorant as that). Do all computers come with the latest Windows version then?
Word and Excel are not crapware -- you need to buy from Microsoft separately (likely through Office365 subscription).

Antivirus software is not very necessary for modern PCs (Windows come with its own defender), unless you deal with lots of suspicious websites/emails.
You can get Word and Excel already loaded in you Dell computer by buying the Office Home and Student package. You do not need to buy it separately. If you also want Outlook with Work and Excel it is the Home and Business package.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:50 am sounds good that's all I'll need, I was not sure whether watching Amazon Prime (and perhaps Netflix) could be a problem but I'm glad it will work fine.
Do you think a touch screen is a good idea?
Any particular model that you or any BH reading this can recommend? I'm looking for a simple, basic but hopefully long lasting model. Saw names like Asus, Acer, Lenovo and never heard of any of them :o
1. touchscreen? depends on your usage. I need to annotate images a lot so touchscreen is a must for me. Some ppl don't like touchscreen because it gets messy with fingerprints.

2. for a non-touchscreen device, Lenovo Chromebook 3 ($169 at walmart.com but often out of stock). Share your budget and needs such as screen size. I can provide a better recommendation.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by dignan »

I find the Wirecutter a great resource before buying any type of product. They spend a lot of time testing products before recommending them. They have multiple articles on laptops sectioned out based on use case.

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/electronics/laptops/
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:56 am Thanks for all these replies, I'm learning a lot. Since however I am really useless with computers and I'd like to make sure I have something working in case this one has a problem and say there's a lockdown (just planning for the worst), I am thinking of buying a Chromebook as they are cheap and don't need anitivirus nor any OS installation. I could order one today or tomorrow on Amazon. Then perhaps later on I can get something nicer after I've learnt more.

So, if I buy a Chromebook it will have the same connections as my PC, in particular to the external disk drive where I store my stuff, right?

Any models you suggest? On Amazon there are very cheap ones, like below 300$ (250£), but some customers complain they don't run very well...
Just read this post with your budget. For under $300, you should look for Intel N4000/4020 cpu + 4GB ram.

Correct, chromebooks don't run well if you are trying to use it as a windows laptop. But it runs web browser better than any other OS.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:15 am

I own both windows and chromebook. I use my chromebook to access my bank accounts because it's much more secured.
right, this confirms my choice of chromebook
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:35 am
steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:56 am Thanks for all these replies, I'm learning a lot. Since however I am really useless with computers and I'd like to make sure I have something working in case this one has a problem and say there's a lockdown (just planning for the worst), I am thinking of buying a Chromebook as they are cheap and don't need anitivirus nor any OS installation. I could order one today or tomorrow on Amazon. Then perhaps later on I can get something nicer after I've learnt more.

So, if I buy a Chromebook it will have the same connections as my PC, in particular to the external disk drive where I store my stuff, right?

Any models you suggest? On Amazon there are very cheap ones, like below 300$ (250£), but some customers complain they don't run very well...
Just read this post with your budget. For under $300, you should look for Intel N4000/4020 cpu + 4GB ram.

Correct, chromebooks don't run well if you are trying to use it as a windows laptop. But it runs web browser better than any other OS.
Thanks. I just said 300$ since I saw some for 300$ but can spend more if needed
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:30 am
2. for a non-touchscreen device, Lenovo Chromebook 3 ($169 at walmart.com but often out of stock).
wow, cheaper than a smartphone!
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:37 am
acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:15 am

I own both windows and chromebook. I use my chromebook to access my bank accounts because it's much more secured.
right, this confirms my choice of chromebook
Since you are getting a chromebook, here's a tip on security. The biggest security threat to chromebooks comes from extensions. They can be malware so only install extensions that you trust.
acegolfer
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:40 am
acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:30 am
2. for a non-touchscreen device, Lenovo Chromebook 3 ($169 at walmart.com but often out of stock).
wow, cheaper than a smartphone!
Here's a review on that model. https://chromeunboxed.com/unboxing-the- ... the-money/

(Personally, I'd get it myself without hesitation, if I didn't need a touchscreen.)
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

sorry one last question: can I skype or use Google Duo with a Chromebook?
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by peppers »

fwiw

We use a Samsung Chromebook. It works well with all the secure sites.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:43 am sorry one last question: can I skype or use Google Duo with a Chromebook?
Never used skype. But google duo works perfectly in a chromebook. It has a progressive web app with notification. So even if you don't have duo open, it will still ring, if someone calls you.

update: Just tried skype. It seems skype can't be run in a web browser. To my understanding, MSFT is transitioning skype to Teams. I use Teams in my chromebook every day.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:53 am
steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:43 am sorry one last question: can I skype or use Google Duo with a Chromebook?
Never used skype. But google duo works perfectly in a chromebook. It has a progressive web app with notification. So even if you don't have duo open, it will still ring, if someone calls you.

update: Just tried skype. It seems skype can't be run in a web browser. To my understanding, MSFT is transitioning skype to Teams. I use Teams in my chromebook every day.
cool, anyway my daughter prefers to call me on Duo or Hangout.
I am having a doubt on the touchscreen based on something I believe I once heard: is it possible to sign a document say in pdf format with your real signature, using some kind of pen on a touch screen, or am I talking nonsense? Meaning you wouldn't have to print it, sign it, scan it and email it? In that case a touch screen could be useful.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:18 am I am having a doubt on the touchscreen based on something I believe I once heard: is it possible to sign a document say in pdf format with your real signature, using some kind of pen on a touch screen, or am I talking nonsense? Meaning you wouldn't have to print it, sign it, scan it and email it? In that case a touch screen could be useful.
Yes, with my touchscreen chromebook, I can sign a pdf with a real signature without printing it out. But note that there are 3 types of stylus technology: capacitive, active EMR/Wacom, and USI. I expect USI will become more popular over time.
NOgmacks
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by NOgmacks »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:18 am
acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:53 am
steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:43 am sorry one last question: can I skype or use Google Duo with a Chromebook?
Never used skype. But google duo works perfectly in a chromebook. It has a progressive web app with notification. So even if you don't have duo open, it will still ring, if someone calls you.

update: Just tried skype. It seems skype can't be run in a web browser. To my understanding, MSFT is transitioning skype to Teams. I use Teams in my chromebook every day.
cool, anyway my daughter prefers to call me on Duo or Hangout.
I am having a doubt on the touchscreen based on something I believe I once heard: is it possible to sign a document say in pdf format with your real signature, using some kind of pen on a touch screen, or am I talking nonsense? Meaning you wouldn't have to print it, sign it, scan it and email it? In that case a touch screen could be useful.
I Skype and use google meet with my Chromebook. I am sure you can use Google Duo just fine.

Yes, PDF form fills and signatures can still be done without a touchscreen using online tools, but, I have noticed that my PixelBook (its a high end Chromebook with stylus and touchscreen) comes in handy when I have to fill PDFs.
finite_difference
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by finite_difference »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:36 pm I need to buy a computer (I think it'll be a laptop); it's embarrassing to say but it will be the first time I buy and set one up myself. The one I am using was bought with the assistance of a family member who got it running for me (I cant rely on them any longer for help). But it is getting a bit old.

I would like to order one online, I think perhaps a Dell

Questions:
- Do you think Dell is a good choice, or Apple is better? (apart from the brand, am I getting anything more valuable with Apple? I'd probably have to learn a new system though). Also I am saving a copy of my stuff in an external disk drive (Toshiba). Will it be compatible with all sorts of computer brands?

- When I buy it online, does it arrive already equipped with everything so that I can use it immediately, or do I have to install anything, like an operating system (sorry about the language but I am totally ignorant in this field)? If so what do I have to buy exactly, besides the computer, in order to have everything I need?

- What about Antivirus, do you get it separately?

- Is Amazon a good place to buy it? If there are any BH in the UK reading this, is there an online seller in the Uk that you would recommend instead?

Any other things I should think about?

Thanks!
I would buy an Apple directly from Apple. If you need help, it’s easy to get it at the Apple Store.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
tibbitts
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by tibbitts »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:23 pm
tibbitts wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:31 pm
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:03 pm
000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:45 pm

Also, you should make 2 backup copies of all your data before doing anything above.
I have one external disk, so I guess I should buy another? Also, I thought perhaps of saving at least the most important data on Google Drive. Is that a good plan? Is that safe and is it all right to stock confidential data?
I also put my pictures on Amazon in a space where you have unlimited storage for pics.
I only store my most critical documents on the cloud (Google Drive or whatever) now, but since I no longer have an office (outside my home), I've lost transparent access to offsite storage for one of my backup external drives. To some extent that should factor into whether to use the cloud vs. external drive backup. If you have very confidential data (what do you consider confidential?) you could encrypt it, the complexity and effectiveness of which varies with different cloud providers.
Well I'd say the most confidential data would be documents on my finances, such as bank account statements I downloaded, scans of lease agreements for the properties I let, and even a Word document where I wrote the log in details of all of my accounts (but not the whole password, just a hint that should allow me to remember in case I start forgetting things). I store all those on the external disk drive, I guess it's safer than Google Drive?
But for al the rest I think Google Drive should be fine, right?
If a drive or a file on a drive is encrypted, it should be safe. If a file on Google Drive is encrypted, it should be safe as well. I believe Google Drive data is reasonably safe even if not encrypted, and the only document you mention that I'd hesitate to keep there even without encryption is your password list. I'd use a password manager, but also keep an encrypted list somewhere. I wouldn't make a list of "hints" - it's too complicated and won't help other people.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by bondsr4me »

finite_difference wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:17 am
steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:36 pm I need to buy a computer (I think it'll be a laptop); it's embarrassing to say but it will be the first time I buy and set one up myself. The one I am using was bought with the assistance of a family member who got it running for me (I cant rely on them any longer for help). But it is getting a bit old.

I would like to order one online, I think perhaps a Dell

Questions:
- Do you think Dell is a good choice, or Apple is better? (apart from the brand, am I getting anything more valuable with Apple? I'd probably have to learn a new system though). Also I am saving a copy of my stuff in an external disk drive (Toshiba). Will it be compatible with all sorts of computer brands?

- When I buy it online, does it arrive already equipped with everything so that I can use it immediately, or do I have to install anything, like an operating system (sorry about the language but I am totally ignorant in this field)? If so what do I have to buy exactly, besides the computer, in order to have everything I need?

- What about Antivirus, do you get it separately?

- Is Amazon a good place to buy it? If there are any BH in the UK reading this, is there an online seller in the Uk that you would recommend instead?

Any other things I should think about?

Thanks!
I would buy an Apple directly from Apple. If you need help, it’s easy to get it at the Apple Store.
+1...totally agree...the people at the Apple Store have been a big help to me.
inbox788
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by inbox788 »

000 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:20 pmI found it easy but I have a high level of experience with software.

I don't think it will be "easy and self-explanatory" for most, but I mentioned it as an alternative for you.

If you are interested in going down this route I can try to find some links for you to do more reading.

Note that Windows programs like Office won't run on linux...
OP is a beginner, so linux is probably too complicated at this time, but it's a good reuse of the old desktop once it's freed up. Also, test driving live linux CD/USB is a good way to get some previews.

Chromebooks are great for many people and many tasks, but a couple of items need particular attention. OP has word and excel files, and if they're simple, Google Docs or Open/Libre Office or Microsoft 365 might be adequate substitutes, but if they're large or complicated, then those should be tested first. The other issue is the large amount of data. I've not found a good solution for 1TB photos and videos yet on any platform and nothing even likely with a Chromebook. Are people paying $9.99/month ($99.99/year) for 2TB and heavily using Chromebook to access and manage it? Is there a competing offering around this capacity and price?

[Online storage is finally becoming a consideration for me. I just copied 300GB from one USB2 drive to another and it took about 10 hours, which wasn't fun. Figure it would take about that long to upload to cloud. USB3 would be much faster.]

https://docs.google.com/

OP, first try opening up one of your larger word or excel documents in Google Docs to help determine requirements. Decide if you want to pay the Google Tax (privacy -- they all do it, but Google seems to be the most invasive), the Apple Tax, or the Microsoft Tax.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microso ... 5-products
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

tibbitts wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:07 am
If a drive or a file on a drive is encrypted, it should be safe. If a file on Google Drive is encrypted, it should be safe as well. I believe Google Drive data is reasonably safe even if not encrypted, and the only document you mention that I'd hesitate to keep there even without encryption is your password list. I'd use a password manager, but also keep an encrypted list somewhere. I wouldn't make a list of "hints" - it's too complicated and won't help other people.
good point about the hints. I was recently considering the problem you raise.
To be honest I didn't have a clue about encryption, just googled it and it seems not to hard to do; so I'll try it out tomorrow on Word files; also saw that it can be done on Chromebook
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by JoeRetire »

steve321 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:36 pm I need to buy a computer

Any other things I should think about?
Decide what you want to do with your computer first. Then, decide how much you want to spend. Then decide on which computer best meets your needs.

Many (most?) people these days should be thinking of a Chromebook first, IMHO, since most people do everything online.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by mrmass »

Good lord you people selling Linux to someone that can't spell Linux...geesh. Chromebook or run of the mill laptop.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

inbox788 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:03 pm Chromebooks are great for many people and many tasks, but a couple of items need particular attention. OP has word and excel files, and if they're simple, Google Docs or Open/Libre Office or Microsoft 365 might be adequate substitutes, but if they're large or complicated, then those should be tested first. The other issue is the large amount of data. I've not found a good solution for 1TB photos and videos yet on any platform and nothing even likely with a Chromebook. Are people paying $9.99/month ($99.99/year) for 2TB and heavily using Chromebook to access and manage it? Is there a competing offering around this capacity and price?
I would not recommend going chromebook 100% to you. I use chromebooks a lot but I also have a windows server with 1TB photos and videos. All my photos are backed to Google Photos (now gdrive) but they don't count against storage quota. I wouldn't pay $9.99 so that I can ditch my server, which also serves as DVR server.

Personally, I consider chromebook as a complementary not a substitute for windows.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

Thanks again to everyone for the help and the education in some basics in the field!

I am going to go for a Chromebook with touchscreen (so that I can sign documents without printing them). But I'd also like to connect it to a printer. Will need it mainly for email, internet, Amazon Prime video, Google Docs and Sheets and calls through Duo. As acegolfer mentioned above, good to have USI stylus technology (even though I don't know what that means :wink: :D )

Any model you suggest? There are lots and it's hard to choose as I know too little. Basically something cheap doing the jobs I mentioned above would be great. (I've seen lots of Asus models online, don't know if anyone on this board has one).
Cheers
Success does not bring happiness. In fact, happiness IS success. | 'There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.' Oscar Wilde
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by rich126 »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:13 pm Thanks again to everyone for the help and the education in some basics in the field!

I am going to go for a Chromebook with touchscreen (so that I can sign documents without printing them). But I'd also like to connect it to a printer. Will need it mainly for email, internet, Amazon Prime video, Google Docs and Sheets and calls through Duo. As acegolfer mentioned above, good to have USI stylus technology (even though I don't know what that means :wink: :D )

Any model you suggest? There are lots and it's hard to choose as I know too little. Basically something cheap doing the jobs I mentioned above would be great. (I've seen lots of Asus models online, don't know if anyone on this board has one).
Cheers
Maybe I missed it but signing what kind of documents? (Not disputing the ability to do so but just curious.) Seems like something that has to be built into the app and possibly the OS to work. And could vary depending on the source of the document.

I've dealt with real estate stuff, financial and job stuff and most documents just require me typing on the keyboard and using that as a kind of a signature. A few do require printing out the document, signing it, and then rescanning it back it. Obviously a bit tedious.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by 000 »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:29 am Suggesting linux to unsophisticated computer users is like recommending options to novice investors. Fun to watch all the frustrations.
No, Options cost real money.

------

I will say Win10 on a real machine is probably better for OP than a Chromebook, which is of course itself a linux system...

Once a "real" task needs to be done (e.g. a serious native software application), the Chromebook's limitations will become an issue.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

000 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:30 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:29 am Suggesting linux to unsophisticated computer users is like recommending options to novice investors. Fun to watch all the frustrations.
No, Options cost real money.

------

I will say Win10 on a real machine is probably better for OP than a Chromebook, which is of course itself a linux system...

Once a "real" task needs to be done (e.g. a serious native software application), the Chromebook's limitations will become an issue.
For average users, what counts is the human interface, not the underlying OS, and how much effort is needed to make it work. I was quite proficient with unix once, but now try to stay away from Linux unless necessary such as for HPC. There are better things to do than boring computer stuffs.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:13 pm Thanks again to everyone for the help and the education in some basics in the field!

I am going to go for a Chromebook with touchscreen (so that I can sign documents without printing them). But I'd also like to connect it to a printer. Will need it mainly for email, internet, Amazon Prime video, Google Docs and Sheets and calls through Duo. As acegolfer mentioned above, good to have USI stylus technology (even though I don't know what that means :wink: :D )

Any model you suggest? There are lots and it's hard to choose as I know too little. Basically something cheap doing the jobs I mentioned above would be great. (I've seen lots of Asus models online, don't know if anyone on this board has one).
Cheers

1. Whether your current printer will support chrome OS in future is tricky. There is some uncertainty because Google is retiring google cloud print. It doesn't mean all printers will stop working. Newer wifi printers with internet printing protocol (IPP) will be able to connect with chromebook natively.

2. Correct, USI stylus is future proof, as it's the "universal standard".

3. All (even the cheapest) 2018+ touchscreen chromebook can handle what you described. So you don't really have to worry about CPU or RAM. Instead, you should make a decision based on screen size, weight, AUE, price. Unfortunately, chromebooks are currently in high demand because of virtual learning and all the good deals are sold out. I bought a used 2018 model from eBay a few months ago.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by rgs92 »

I personally like MSI computers. Dells and HPs are OK for Windows PCs, but the ones I owned from those companies have had strange hiccups down the line and hardware failures. My MSI has experienced no problems or glitches.
I went with MSI after recommendations from the gaming and computer-audio communities.
They cost more, but I feel the reliability is worth it. And it runs cool and quiet, which is important to me.

(MSI runs Windows and is basically plug and play. But I'm sure this is true for Dell and HP too. I personally see no need for a touchscreen interface, as I like mice. But this is just my preference. I have a Surface Pro also and never use the touchscreen capability. I feel the Surface is overpriced for its capabilities. It's good for portability or tablet use.)

There are a bunch of MSI laptops on Amazon at various price points.
Here is one I like (it has a core i7 processor and a solid state disc drive, which are necessary in my opinion; I would not buy a machine with any non-solid state drives[SSDs]; this model is highly regarded in the Amazon reviews):
https://www.amazon.com/MSI-Leopard-10SF ... g=usmsi-20

[Edit: I see you are getting a Chromebook, but I will leave my suggestion here for others reading this thread. I would also suggest a custom-built laptop from various online shops where you can have it built to your specifications, like with extra disk drives or extra memory if you need or want such things. It is actually not too expensive to get a custom built machine. https://www.excaliberpc.com/ is one such place; https://xoticpc.com/ is another.]
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by inbox788 »

Chromebooks come in 2 flavors, "cheap and slow" and "good, but expensive" for about $200 and $500+, respectively. You might want a larger screen and seek those out. I think a higher resolution screen is worth it. YMMV. But right now, selection is very limited, so prices are likely higher than usual.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-11-6- ... Id=6403818
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-11-6-ch ... Id=6402920

https://www.costco.com/samsung-12.2%22- ... 02331.html

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/google-pix ... Id=6382914

OP, from what I've read so far, I'd probably stick with Windows. If this is a secondary device and only needs to do 80% of what you do, then a Chromebook is ok. You should test drive one to make sure it does what you need. Best to borrow one from a friend, relative, or neighbor. Chromebooks are very shareable, unlike iPads. Windows, Macs no readily shareable unless you create a new user account.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:13 pm Instead, you should make a decision based on... AUE
just Googled it as I did not know what it was. Didn't even realize that they come with a limited lifetime. So basically they are not secure after a certain date?
I had found a relatively cheap one, approx 250$, an Asus with touchscreen (here in Europe), but apparently after 2023 it will not be automatically updated based on one of the comments. So probably not a good deal..(?)
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by acegolfer »

steve321 wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:03 am
acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:13 pm Instead, you should make a decision based on... AUE
just Googled it as I did not know what it was. Didn't even realize that they come with a limited lifetime. So basically they are not secure after a certain date?
I had found a relatively cheap one, approx 250$, an Asus with touchscreen (here in Europe), but apparently after 2023 it will not be automatically updated based on one of the comments. So probably not a good deal..(?)
After AUE, the chromebook will not get updates. Imagine a 3-yr old smartphone getting no more updates. It's still functional but can be exposed to security threats. Personally, I may use EOL'ed chromebook for media consumption but I wouldn't use it for banking.

Sounds like Asus C302 model. It's one of the most popular ones from 3-4 years ago and it was on my short list when I was shopping for my kid earlier this year despite 2023 AUE. But I don't think it supports USI pen.

I use 2 sources when shopping for a chromebook
https://support.google.com/chrome/a/ans ... 0366?hl=en (AUE dates for all models)
https://zipso.net/chromebook-specs-comparison-table/ (spec charts for all models)
Octane score is the key benchmark for chromebook performance. I suggest you limit to at least 16,000 score for email/video/word/spreadsheet.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by steve321 »

acegolfer wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:31 am
steve321 wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:03 am
acegolfer wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:13 pm Instead, you should make a decision based on... AUE
just Googled it as I did not know what it was. Didn't even realize that they come with a limited lifetime. So basically they are not secure after a certain date?
I had found a relatively cheap one, approx 250$, an Asus with touchscreen (here in Europe), but apparently after 2023 it will not be automatically updated based on one of the comments. So probably not a good deal..(?)
After AUE, the chromebook will not get updates. Imagine a 3-yr old smartphone getting no more updates. It's still functional but can be exposed to security threats. Personally, I may use EOL'ed chromebook for media consumption but I wouldn't use it for banking.

Sounds like Asus C302 model. It's one of the most popular ones from 3-4 years ago and it was on my short list when I was shopping for my kid earlier this year despite 2023 AUE. But I don't think it supports USI pen.

I use 2 sources when shopping for a chromebook
https://support.google.com/chrome/a/ans ... 0366?hl=en (AUE dates for all models)
https://zipso.net/chromebook-specs-comparison-table/ (spec charts for all models)
Octane score is the key benchmark for chromebook performance. I suggest you limit to at least 16,000 score for email/video/word/spreadsheet.
It's ASUS Chromebook C423NA-EC0342 So based on your website it expires in 2024. Still might be worth it just to make sure I'm not left isolated in case this breaks down; it's just how I operate due to anxiety, I want to make sure I don't find myself in a difficult situation in case of a lock down. Mind you, I also have a smartphone. Still, for a low price it's probably good to be safe (rather than sorry) and get the Asus. But I'll look into the websites you refer to more in more detail.
Thanks again for all your help.
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Re: Please help me, need to buy a computer

Post by Target2019 »

acegolfer wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:31 am After AUE, the chromebook will not get updates. Imagine a 3-yr old smartphone getting no more updates. It's still functional but can be exposed to security threats. Personally, I may use EOL'ed chromebook for media consumption but I wouldn't use it for banking.

Sounds like Asus C302 model. It's one of the most popular ones from 3-4 years ago and it was on my short list when I was shopping for my kid earlier this year despite 2023 AUE. But I don't think it supports USI pen.

I use 2 sources when shopping for a chromebook
https://support.google.com/chrome/a/ans ... 0366?hl=en (AUE dates for all models)
https://zipso.net/chromebook-specs-comparison-table/ (spec charts for all models)
Octane score is the key benchmark for chromebook performance. I suggest you limit to at least 16,000 score for email/video/word/spreadsheet.
It is possible that Google will change their AUE (Auto Update Expiration) policy, say when more units are sold. But one should expect their device won't receive updates after the date. That has implications for the security of one's financials on that system.

You make good points and are thinking ahead for OP. It's obvious you have expereince with planning for the future in a device purchase.
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