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Old 08-29-2016, 03:59 PM   #1
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ISO computer advice

Just picked up my Dell laptop from the repair shop. The technician told me that, as of April 2017, my Vista program will be toast. Okay. I think I get it. At that point the laptop will be 10-years-old. Bit of an antique by today's standards.

I need help. I'm going to have to begin researching and shopping for a new laptop. Glad I have ample time to do it. With any luck, between my Amazon points and my Bing rewards, I might have enough to nearly cover the expense. In May, I bought a $500 Dyson vacuum for just over $80 using these credits.

What I need is not too complex. I only use my laptop for creating and storing Word documents, downloading and storing photos, surfing the Internet and using my Yahoo email. I don't do any music stuff, nor do I view movies (doesn't include YouTube, if that counts), etc. via the Internet. I do like to play music CDs on the laptop and view DVDs on it. Not often, but frequently enough to make it important for the device to be able have these functions.

I am the definition of "novice" when it comes to computer anything, so I'm asking my educated DC friends for help.

Basically, what variety/version of a Dell laptop should I look into? Doesn't have to be expensive...just capable. I'm not necessarily a "mouse" person and I mean that to say that a touchpad is fine with me. The only mouse we have is with our desktop in the den.

When I DO choose my laptop, what do I have to purchase additionally, if anything, to allow me to enjoy my Word document usage, photo capabilities, email, CD and DVD accessibility?

I'm educated and knowledgeable in many areas but, when it comes to the computer world, I'm a total dummy.

Please make your answers as rudimentary as you can. Seriously.

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Old 08-29-2016, 04:53 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Katie H View Post
Just picked up my Dell laptop from the repair shop. The technician told me that, as of April 2017, my Vista program will be toast. Okay. I think I get it. At that point the laptop will be 10-years-old. Bit of an antique by today's standards.

I need help. I'm going to have to begin researching and shopping for a new laptop. Glad I have ample time to do it. With any luck, between my Amazon points and my Bing rewards, I might have enough to nearly cover the expense. In May, I bought a $500 Dyson vacuum for just over $80 using these credits.

What I need is not too complex. I only use my laptop for creating and storing Word documents, downloading and storing photos, surfing the Internet and using my Yahoo email. I don't do any music stuff, nor do I view movies (doesn't include YouTube, if that counts), etc. via the Internet. I do like to play music CDs on the laptop and view DVDs on it. Not often, but frequently enough to make it important for the device to be able have these functions.

I am the definition of "novice" when it comes to computer anything, so I'm asking my educated DC friends for help.

Basically, what variety/version of a Dell laptop should I look into? Doesn't have to be expensive...just capable. I'm not necessarily a "mouse" person and I mean that to say that a touchpad is fine with me. The only mouse we have is with our desktop in the den.

When I DO choose my laptop, what do I have to purchase additionally, if anything, to allow me to enjoy my Word document usage, photo capabilities, email, CD and DVD accessibility?

I'm educated and knowledgeable in many areas but, when it comes to the computer world, I'm a total dummy.

Please make your answers as rudimentary as you can. Seriously.
Hi, Katie. As you may recall, I was a PC desktop support specialist/network admin/website designer/website manager when I was working. My old laptop died last year and I bought a new Dell in January. It's working great for me There are usually good sales on electronics around holidays, so I would plan on getting a computer for Veterans Day or Christmas. Since you know it's coming, start enjoying the benefits of a better system ASAP!

I have a Dell Inspiron 15 5558. It (or whatever the most recent version is) will handle all your needs and then some; it's only gaming and major video/photo editing that have special requirements.

Here are the specs: 15.6-in. screen, 8 gigabytes memory, 1 terabyte hard drive, integrated network card and CD/DVD drive, built-in wifi and BlueTooth, Windows 10 Home 64-bit operating system. It also has a touch screen, like a smartphone, which is nice.

It has a trackball, which drives me nuts, but it sounds like you can work with it. I bought a wireless mouse/keyboard set because I find it much easier to use. With your Arthur-itis, you might want to think about that.

If you already own a copy of Microsoft Word or Office, you should upgrade it to a newer version to make sure it's compatible with the new operating system (Windows 10). I couldn't remember whether I owned a copy already (and couldn't find a serial number), so I bought an older version online - MS Office version 2013 - for about $100. I don't need the newest bells and whistles, I just need the software It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access and a couple other things. I think you can buy Word separately, if that's all you need.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie H View Post
When I DO choose my laptop, what do I have to purchase additionally, if anything, to allow me to enjoy my Word document usage, photo capabilities, email, CD and DVD accessibility
To take these one at a time:
  • Word documents: Word or Office, upgrade or new
  • Photos: Just to download and save, you need a browser. Windows includes one already (they call it Edge); you can also download and install Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, etc., for free. The computer will include Microsoft Paint, which does rudimentary editing. You can get additional photo editing software, if you want. I've been using Corel Paintshop Pro for over 20 years, but there are others.
  • Email: You will use Yahoo email through the browser; nothing additional needed.
  • CD and DVD accessibility: Software to access these is included in Windows.
  • Bonus: My advice is to buy a backup service to make sure you don't lose your photos. Yes, you can back them up yourself to a DVD, external hard drive, etc., but those are magnetic devices that can fail and imo, it's a pain. I use Backblaze. For about $50/year, all my documents and photos are automagically backed up to the cloud. When my laptop died last year, I could not access any files on my computer, but everything was saved at Backblaze. Once I got my new computer set up, I could restore everything easily.

Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:59 PM   #3
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New PC

I second all the GG said. The wireless mouse can be found on eBay for under $5, and makes all the difference in the world.
Many people use Firefox as their browser, including me. IE has been found to have many vulnerabilities over the years.
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:11 PM   #4
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Thanks, Souschef. I've been editing, so you might want to reread what I wrote and make sure you still agree

I couldn't remember the name of Firefox! haha I used it for years, but switched to Chrome so it will work seamlessly with my Android phone and tablet.
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:35 PM   #5
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Hi, Katie. As you may recall, I was a PC desktop support specialist/network admin/website designer/website manager when I was working. My old laptop died last year and I bought a new Dell in January. It's working great for me There are usually good sales on electronics around holidays, so I would plan on getting a computer for Veterans Day or Christmas. Since you know it's coming, start enjoying the benefits of a better system ASAP!

I have a Dell Inspiron 15 5558. It (or whatever the most recent version is) will handle all your needs and then some; it's only gaming and major video/photo editing that have special requirements.

Here are the specs: 15.6-in. screen, 8 gigabytes memory, 1 terabyte hard drive, integrated network card and CD/DVD drive, built-in wifi and BlueTooth, Windows 10 Home 64-bit operating system. It also has a touch screen, like a smartphone, which is nice.

It has a trackball, which drives me nuts, but it sounds like you can work with it. I bought a wireless mouse/keyboard set because I find it much easier to use. With your Arthur-itis, you might want to think about that.

If you already own a copy of Microsoft Word or Office, you should upgrade it to a newer version to make sure it's compatible with the new operating system (Windows 10). I couldn't remember whether I owned a copy already (and couldn't find a serial number), so I bought an older version online - MS Office version 2013 - for about $100. I don't need the newest bells and whistles, I just need the software It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access and a couple other things. I think you can buy Word separately, if that's all you need.



To take these one at a time:
  • Word documents: Word or Office, upgrade or new
  • Photos: Just to download and save, you need a browser. Windows includes one already (they call it Edge); you can also download and install Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, etc., for free. The computer will include Microsoft Paint, which does rudimentary editing. You can get additional photo editing software, if you want. I've been using Corel Paintshop Pro for over 20 years, but there are others.
  • Email: You will use Yahoo email through the browser; nothing additional needed.
  • CD and DVD accessibility: Software to access these is included in Windows.
  • Bonus: My advice is to buy a backup service to make sure you don't lose your photos. Yes, you can back them up yourself to a DVD, external hard drive, etc., but those are magnetic devices that can fail and imo, it's a pain. I use Backblaze. For about $50/year, all my documents and photos are automagically backed up to the cloud. When my laptop died last year, I could not access any files on my computer, but everything was saved at Backblaze. Once I got my new computer set up, I could restore everything easily.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Okay, I understand some of the information. I don't know what "terabytes" are and I'm not sold on the touch screen part. I know nothing of smart-type phones, nor do I want to. I prefer to keep things electronically as simple as I can.

My son put my current laptop together after Buck died in 2008 and I have no idea what my accessibility to the Word program is, nor do I know the difference between Word and Office as you have referenced.

You mentioned a "trackball," what is that? In the photo of the laptop in your link, I don't see any ball-like device.

After reading your information, and tell me if I'm not getting some of it correct, what I will need is a new laptop (such as the one you linked) and way to get Word on the computer.

Otherwise, my usage needs will be satisfied by the computer's capabilities. Yes?
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:44 PM   #6
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After your post, GotGarlic, I've been doing some checking and came up with this: Dell laptop. Is this something to look at?
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Old 08-29-2016, 07:52 PM   #7
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Microsoft Office is a suite of programs-Word, Excel, Power Point, and a few other programs.
The thing that got to me after I retired, I had to (gasp) buy a couple of programs that I used at the office all the time. Microsoft Office was not to bad at about $95, but the killer was the full Adobe Acrobat at $300!
You probably do not need it. Adobe Reader to read PDF documents is a free download.
That laptop looks like a good deal at that price. By the way, a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes a gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:15 PM   #8
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I'm also an IT guy (10 yrs as a database developer for the #1 real estate company in the world), and I second the Dell Inspiron laptop. You may not think a touch screen is something you'll use, but you'd be surprised.

I like this one myself. It's called a 2-in-1, because you can use it as a laptop or fold the keyboard out of the way and use it as a tablet. I bought one of these for my daughter last year and she absolutely loves it.

Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 Laptop | Dell

Whatever you get, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It's always fun getting new toys.
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:17 PM   #9
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Microsoft Office was not to bad at about $95, but the killer was the full Adobe Acrobat at $300!
You probably do not need it. Adobe Reader to read PDF documents is a free download.
By the way, the newest version of Office will also allow you to save documents in PDF format. No need for Acrobat.
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:32 PM   #10
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If you used some second party software programs supported by Vista, you may need to find an alternate that is compatible with newer Windows operating systems.
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:41 PM   #11
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If it weren't for needing to work with Word files, I'd recommend a Dell Chromebook (or Lenovo or Toshiba).

Chromebooks are way less susceptible to malware. Chrome OS is built on Linux and is stable and fast. It boots in like 2 seconds and mine never crashes. You can actually use the online versions of Word (free) even on a Chromebook. If you're using a 10 year old version of Word, the online version might actually be fine for you.

Your data would be saved in the cloud (Google Drive) and you could also back it up locally on a memory card.



There's a video of a guy demonstrating Word on Chromebook. But if you want to stick with Windows, that's perfectly cool too. The suggestions above will be fine. Yep, you definitely want at least 6 or probably 8 GB of RAM memory. And compared to your laptop now, anything is going to be nice. :)
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:42 PM   #12
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If it weren't for needing to work with Word files, I'd recommend a Dell Chromebook (or Lenovo or Toshiba).

Chromebooks are way less susceptible to malware. Chrome OS is built on Linux and is stable and fast. It boots in like 2 seconds and mine never crashes. You can actually use the online versions of Word (free) even on a Chromebook. If you're using a 10 year old version of Word, the online version might actually be fine for you.

Your data would be saved in the cloud (Google Drive) and you could also back it up locally on a memory card.



There's a video of a guy demonstrating Word on Chromebook. But if you want to stick with Windows, that's perfectly cool too. The suggestions above will be fine. Yep, you definitely want at least 6 or probably 8 GB of RAM memory. And compared to your laptop now, anything is going to be nice. :)
Okay, now you've really lost me...cloud?
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:42 PM   #13
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Okay, I understand some of the information. I don't know what "terabytes" are and I'm not sold on the touch screen part. I know nothing of smart-type phones, nor do I want to. I prefer to keep things electronically as simple as I can.

My son put my current laptop together after Buck died in 2008 and I have no idea what my accessibility to the Word program is, nor do I know the difference between Word and Office as you have referenced.

You mentioned a "trackball," what is that? In the photo of the laptop in your link, I don't see any ball-like device.

After reading your information, and tell me if I'm not getting some of it correct, what I will need is a new laptop (such as the one you linked) and way to get Word on the computer.

Otherwise, my usage needs will be satisfied by the computer's capabilities. Yes?
Terabytes are a measure of how much storage space the computer has for software and data and photo files. It's plenty for your needs. I only mentioned the smartphone aspect because I thought it might be familiar (couldn't remember whether you have one).

Windows is the operating system that controls everything your computer does; you have the version called Vista, which, as you've found, is out of date and will no longer be supported next year. Word is one specific program and you know what it does Office is a set of programs that includes Word and also does other things (create presentations, spreadsheets, brochures and flyers, etc.).

It sounds like the easiest thing to do is buy a copy of Word (an older version will be less expensive and will have more features than what you're currently using) and install it on the new laptop. If there is a computer store somewhere near you (whether a chain like Best Buy or a local place), you can pay someone to install it, if necessary. It shouldn't cost much. Or maybe one of your or Glenn's children can help you with that.

I misspoke on the trackball. Sorry for the confusion

Yes, your bottom-line understanding is correct. The one you linked will work fine.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:48 PM   #14
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Okay, now you've really lost me...cloud?
The cloud is essentially file storage space provided by a vendor. These days, cell phone vendors, Internet service providers, online email providers (like Yahoo) and others provide free online storage space. The benefit is having a place outside your home to backup your files and being able to access them when you're away from home. Some people are concerned about privacy and don't want to do that, although there are safeguards. Anyway, it's optional.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:52 PM   #15
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The cloud is essentially file storage space provided by a vendor. These days, cell phone vendors, Internet service providers, online email providers (like Yahoo) and others provide free online storage space. The benefit is having a place outside your home to backup your files and being able to access them when you're away from home. Some people are concerned about privacy and don't want to do that, although there are safeguards. Anyway, it's optional.
Thank you, GotGarlic. Since I don't have a smart-type phone and don't take my computer with me when I'm away from home, I don't think the cloud thing would be of much use to me. I suppose it would be of great value to working people who rely on their computer for data, etc.
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Old 08-29-2016, 10:03 PM   #16
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Thank you, GotGarlic. Since I don't have a smart-type phone and don't take my computer with me when I'm away from home, I don't think the cloud thing would be of much use to me. I suppose it would be of great value to working people who rely on their computer for data, etc.
It is, although, as an example, I saved recipes to my Google cloud space that I used in Michigan when we cooked for my FIL. It saved me the hassle of printing and packing them to take with me. I was able to access them with my MIL's computer at their house.

I also made labels with cooking instructions last November for the food packages and so I had those to work from when I made new labels for different dishes.

I also use a note-taking program on my phone, computer and tablet that saves to the cloud. One example: When we're planning a trip, I save ideas for restaurants, etc., ticket receipts, itineraries, contact information, etc. I can access this information from any of my devices or someone else's computer from anywhere. It's pretty handy
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:09 PM   #17
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Katie. Clouds are out there and make browsers and other things work better ( ie:Steam Gaming). Whatever browser you use will most likely make use of it. It's a remote dynamic data storage area, but not a place you can store big files.

Windows 10 will be quite an adjustment for you, I'm guessing.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:32 PM   #18
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Thank you, GotGarlic. Since I don't have a smart-type phone and don't take my computer with me when I'm away from home, I don't think the cloud thing would be of much use to me. I suppose it would be of great value to working people who rely on their computer for data, etc.
I'd think of the cloud as simply a disk drive -- albeit one that lives on the Google servers instead of locally on the computer's disk drive. Even if you don't use a smart phone or tablet, the cloud still has its advantages. In case your computer stops working, the data is safe still. And in the future, for example, if you were to add a tablet to your household, you could just log into your account, and all your data will appear on the tablet.

You should have your data in at least 2 places -- A. cloud, B. locally on the hard drive, or C. on an external drive (hard drive or small SD card/thumb drive). Pick 2 of the above or preferably all 3. But if you're going to do B and C only, then I'd suggest keeping the external drive at a relative's house.

There have been people who've kept their "backup" external drive right next to their laptop or computer. And then when the thief breaks in, they take the computer AND the external drive, so the victim has lost all their data.

It really does sound like a Chromebook might be a good option for you -- way less BS than a Windows computer. You can actually go down to Best Buy and a salesperson could show you a Chromebook and how it works, and ask them to show you the free online versions of Word and Office. If you do get a Chromebook, they have various sizes of screens so whatever size you want. Also I'd make sure it has at least 4 GB's of RAM memory. Chrome OS is a lightweight OS and doesn't need much RAM but the more the better. On a Windows laptop, I'd get at least 8 GB's of RAM memory.

Chromebooks are pretty reasonably priced -- $200-$300. I have the Toshiba Chromebook 2 with a beautiful 13.3" high def screen. Whatever laptop you get (Windows or Chromebook), be sure to get one with an "island keyboard" -- much easier to type on than the older keyboards. Your 10 year old laptop probably has a non-island keyboard. You're going to like a modern island keyboard.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:41 PM   #19
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I'd think of the cloud as simply a disk drive -- albeit one that lives on the Google servers instead of locally on the computer's disk drive. Even if you don't use a smart phone or tablet, the cloud still has its advantages. In case your computer stops working, the data is safe still. And in the future, for example, if you were to add a tablet to your household, you could just log into your account, and all your data will appear on the tablet.

You should have your data in at least 2 places -- A. cloud, B. locally on the hard drive, or C. on an external drive (hard drive or small SD card/thumb drive). Pick 2 of the above or preferably all 3. But if you're going to do B and C, then I'd suggest keeping the external drive at a relative's house.

There have been people who've kept their "backup" external drive right next to their laptop or computer. And then when the thief breaks in, they take the computer AND the external drive, so the victim has lost all their data.

It really does sound like a Chromebook might be a good option for you -- way less BS than a Windows computer. You can actually go down to Best Buy and a salesperson could show you a Chromebook and how it works, and ask them to show you the free online versions of Word and Office. If you do get a Chromebook, they have various sizes of screens so whatever size you want. Also I'd make sure it has at least 4 GB's of RAM memory. Chrome OS is a lightweight OS and doesn't need much RAM but the more the better.
I'm really appreciating the education I am getting and am, for the most part, understanding what everyone's saying.

As for the "cloud" situation. The only things we store are a few, and I mean a few, photos and whatever Word documents I create. Those are almost completely recipes.

My download folder only has 4 items in it and I don't even know what they are.

Fortunately, I have until April - certainly won't wait till the last minute - so I have plenty of time to accumulate my rewards/points. Hoping to may close to nothing for whatever I select.

Went to Office Depot today to "feel" what the new products are. I learned a lot and like what I see in a Dell I'm considering.

Thanks, everyone. Keep the information coming.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:47 PM   #20
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Went to Office Depot today to "feel" what the new products are. I learned a lot and like what I see in a Dell I'm considering.

Thanks, everyone. Keep the information coming.
Yeah definitely get a hands on experience. Like I added to the post above, I'd get an "island keyboard" as they are a lot easier/nicer to type on than the older keyboards like you're used to.
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