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The W - Internet & Computers - Looking to Upgrade
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pieman
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Since: 11.12.01
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.30


Stone Age Family Looks to Enter the Current Decade:

The Pieman Family is looking to get a laptop or two and use wireless technology in their house. We currently have a 4 year old Dell connected by a wire to the wall. What should I be looking for? Where to look? We have kids that are just about to close in on using the interweb for school and stuff. I have no clue where to start. Help!




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Since: 4.11.02
From: Winchester, VA

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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.03
After following the advice of others on the board, I went with a MacBook. I've never been happier with a computer. Seriously. This was my first Mac and I can't ever imagine going back to a PC again.



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Since: 18.3.02
From: Sussex, WI

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.87

I can think of a couple first steps:

If the school uses computer labs, check what they are using. If you're interested in using them for school, you may want to have Windows machines or Macs...depending on what they use.

Once you know which way you are leaning there...set an upper limit for what you want to spend, and start doing comparison shopping. (www.gotapex.com is a good place to start). Check all the "big" outlets like Dell, Best Buy, etc...for comparison prices.

As for wireless, get a good router and follow the instructions for setting up the encryption/protection on it. If you can't do it, get a computer savvy friend to help you. I help my family/friends all the time, and I cannot believe the number of wide open wireless routers that I find.

Also...depending on how old your kids are, look into filtering/monitoring software. If they have wireless, they won't necessarily be under your watchful eye all the time. Again depending on age, a talk about what info you do and do NOT give out on the internet may be in order.
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Seattle, WA

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.40
IF you decide to go with a Mac, you DEFINITELY should keep you old PC around for a while if only to converse with the wireless router when you set it up. After sponging off my neighbors for a couple of months (I'm sure they didn't mind) I broke down and dropped the $50 on a Belkin wireless router. The only problem was that while I was doing the initial set-up it couldn't talk to my Mac, so I had to dig out my eight year-old PC so Windows could access the router and set up the passwords and such.

Now that it is all set up my Mac recognizes the router and can access it with no problems. It would have been a mess if I hadn't had that PC lying around though.



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Since: 28.1.02
From: Louisville, KY

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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.54
Pieman,

To do your deal, you need a wireless router - Dlink and Linksys are the dominant players in the game - I personally have a linksys, but the Dlinks are just as good.

You CAN choose a Mac for your kids, that's up to you, but know that the very high likelihood (plus 90%) is that when they go to work in the world, they'll be using a PC. Macs hold a small percent of the commercial market and primarily in one segment (graphic design), although hobbyists often favor them. I can tell you that in the fortune 100 company I work for that there are essentially zero macs (there might be a dozen in one department, although those people also likely have PCs)

I am sure those who hold to the religion of the Mac will now accuse me of blasphemy, and I am willing to accept said accusation. Of course, one of their main reasons will be that their god can load the religion of my god as well.

Like I said, up to you.

I suspect, when you say "wire to the wall" you mean EITHER dial up OR you have a Cable/DSL connection. If you have a cable or DSL connection, you have a "modem" to convert the ethernet from your Dell into that communications protocol. Your ethernet cable from the PC is plugged into the modem, and the modem is plugged into your cable or dsl WAN line. Then your Router ports can be plugged into PCs and it will generate addresses that your wireless PCs will talk to.

In terms of PCs, well, if you get a Mac, I can't help you much. Generally speaking, that's what you'll find, although the Mac folks will tell you that's because they don't need any - perhaps that is true. If you get a PC, evaluate what you need. I just got laptops for my kids and got one a Thinkpad - because that's what tech support at her college prefers to support and provided totally free on site support. She hasn't had a lick of problem with it, either there or at home. Cost: about 750 with academic Office on there. The boy got an on sale (at circuit city) Compaq for 470, added office home and student for 139 and an extra gig of memory for 2 Gig to bring the total price to 690 or so. Has Vista home premium (the girl's has XP Pro).

All my PCs work fine (I have several others in the house) - my main desktop that I have a 500G USB drive is plugged into my wireless router (it has 4 wired ports). It also has my printer, which anyone can use in the house - even random visitors. (Vista involved me actually having to read something to make it work)

Other than the above software, all my PCs run AVG free for virus protection (7 years and I never had a virus - actually, I have AVG pro now - it is free for home users, but I figured it is running on 6 PCs in my house, so my main PC runs pro). My router has a firewall built in and I leave that at default.

I don't put the whole security/password thing on my router, although I probably should.

What else? Can't think of anything, Pieman. PM me or drop me a line here if you want. I'll be busy roasting.



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Since: 10.12.01
From: Aurora, IL

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00

    To do your deal, you need a wireless router - Dlink and Linksys are the dominant players in the game - I personally have a linksys, but the Dlinks are just as good.


Should pieman be looking Wireless G or Wireless N? (I think G is still the standard, but haven't checked on it lately.) It's important that everything matches up. The laptop should have wirless built in, so you just need to make sure the version of wireless you have on the laptops matches the one you have in the router.

Don't forget you'll probably need to buy Microsoft Office for each of these laptops. If you can get it at the time of laptop purchase, that's always cheaper. For my home computer, I use freeware equivalent Open Office and it works fine for 99% of what I need to do, but everyone else is going to have Office so just getting it gives you one less thing to worry about. It's not cheap, though.

I'd recommend paying for the Accidental Damage warranty when you purchase these laptops - you want something that will cover service in case someone drops them or dumps liquid into them. With kids your age, this would be worth the money.

You don't have to, but I'd recommend getting some sort of backup external (laptop drives seem to fail more often) - something along the lines of what AWA uses would probably be easiest, where you can just plug in alongside your router and it'll show up as another computer on it's network.

As long as your current printer can be connected via USB, that'll work fine for the new computer.

This is very minor, but I'd make sure each laptop has a mouse, so you don't have to use touchpad if you don't want to.



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Since: 7.2.02
From: Huntington, NY

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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.15
    Originally posted by AWArulz
    Pieman,

    To do your deal, you need a wireless router - Dlink and Linksys are the dominant players in the game - I personally have a linksys, but the Dlinks are just as good.


Does Netgear have a bad reputation?

We've had the same Netgear router for over two years and never had a problem - but no one seems to mention Netgear. Are they not as good for some reason?






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pieman
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Since: 11.12.01
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.30


Alrighty then. I am going to need more clarification.

This week's Circuit City flyer has the following items:

- Toshiba Satellite Notebook featuring AMD Turion 64x2 Dual-Core Mobile technology TL-56, 2048MB memory and 160GB hard drive. Built-in wireless b/g, burns and plays DVDs and CDs, Windows Vista Home Premium for $699.99. Add a wireless-G router, case and flash drive for $49.97. Router is Netgear WGR614NA.

- Acer Notebook featuring Intel Centrino Duo processor technology Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5500. 2048MB memory and 160GB hard drive. Built-in wireless a/b/g, built-in webcam for live video chat, Windows Vista Home Premium. Circuit City exclusive for $699.99.

There are others with more or less memory and hard drive. There are some with Intel Next-Gen Wireless N+a/b/g.

I have no idea what most of that stuff means. They also are hawking FireDog that they will install, setup and secure a wireless network for two PCs for $99.99. Is that something I need someone else to do?

What is the minimum list of things I need to get besides a laptop? Which one? I am so confused.....




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Since: 9.12.01
From: Bay City, OR

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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.81
1) You don't need any of this.

2) You would LIKE to do some of this.

3) Walk away from it if it seems stressful.

4) Don't you dare pay those bastards to install your home network.

Lots of advice can be given here, but it all comes down to your comfort level and how much you want to screw with stuff. None of this is too complicated, but there is a lot of jargon.

Do you intend these systems to last 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?

How important is it that the system is easily stolen? (I kid, I kid. Portable - you really taking it out of the house?)

Do you need wireless networking (will kids be moving around the house?)

Do you have DSL/Cable modem?

Do you expect that the kids will just do business / schoolwork / browsing on these, or are you looking for gaming performance as well?

Are you buying two of them to keep the peace?




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Since: 28.1.02
From: Louisville, KY

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.54
    Originally posted by pieman
    This week's Circuit City flyer has the following items:

    - Toshiba Satellite Notebook featuring AMD Turion 64x2 Dual-Core Mobile technology TL-56, 2048MB memory and 160GB hard drive. Built-in wireless b/g, burns and plays DVDs and CDs, Windows Vista Home Premium for $699.99. Add a wireless-G router, case and flash drive for $49.97. Router is Netgear WGR614NA.


That all sounds pretty good. Circuit city will try and upsell you really heavy on this, so be careful. They'll want to put nortons and some spyware program on these, for like 130 bucks. and Office too. Avoid that, buy office home and student for like 139, you can install it on 3 PCs. Put the CG in, say yes until it quits. There's new wireless technology called N, but few support it and you certainly won't need it at home. It's rare to find it out in the world. Avoid CCs upsell and get freeware virus and spyware protection (AVG free and ad-aware and spybot )

    Originally posted by pieman

    Acer Notebook featuring Intel Centrino Duo processor technology Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5500. 2048MB memory and 160GB hard drive. Built-in wireless a/b/g, built-in webcam for live video chat, Windows Vista Home Premium. Circuit City exclusive for $699.99.

    There are others with more or less memory and hard drive. There are some with Intel Next-Gen Wireless N+a/b/g.

    I have no idea what most of that stuff means. They also are hawking FireDog that they will install, setup and secure a wireless network for two PCs for $99.99. Is that something I need someone else to do?

    What is the minimum list of things I need to get besides a laptop? Which one? I am so confused.....


I'd get the Toshiba - they have pretty good rep and decent support. Don't get the firedog, I can't imagine you wouldn't be able to do it yourself. My son was able to set his up and get it on our network. Maybe your kids can help your old butt.

But if it seems too soon, look around.

and, bastards or no, hassle is worth money - if you feel really unable to do it, $100 bucks costs less than a migrane. But it's easy. But really, really watch CCs upsell.

and plus, if you're doing PCs, you'll have a zillion friends who know enough about them to help you out. A Mac will also work, you'll just have more trouble finding a pal who knows about them.

and Leroy - Netgear's fine - I just forgot about them :)

(edited by AWArulz on 11.9.07 2123)


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I'm thinking of starting up a project that will require me to stream video from a laptop stationed outdoors, far away from any WiFi network or hotspot. I've thought about using EV-DO (like Verizon's Broadband Access)
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