Help! Need a new computer

Grayman

Established
#1
Title says it all. I need a new computer!

Right now I'm using a gen 1 Microsoft surface and iPad... like the traditional Microsoft operating system of the surface for using Word, Excell and PowerPoint. Most of all I like being able to plug my USB Zip drive and printer into it.

If you haven't caught on I'm about as tech savvy as a brick so figuring out how to use stuff wireless and cloud are way above my pay grade.

I basically need something with a traditional keyboard that is easily transportable and touch screen compatible like an iPad would be nice. I don't do any gaming or anything requiring serious computing power. I'm used to Microsoft office programs and my wife wants to be able to use it to access cloud stored photos. That's about all I need.

Any suggestions you guys can offer would be greatly appreciated
 

Simms65

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#2
If you have had good luck with the gen 1 surface I'd suggest looking at a newer version. Is there a reason why you wouldn't want to upgrade in the same ecosystem?
 

Grayman

Established
#3
Can’t say I love the surface. It works ok but I’ve never really learned how to use it effectively. I basically just go to the standard desktop style and work from there.

I’m looking at chrome books because I think the OS will be more familiar. I’m familiar with running my smartphone and from what I understand it’s very similar
 
#4
I'm a Computer Science major in University atm. What you want will depend, like all things, on what you want it to do. Pretty much no matter what your niche or broad desired application is, there will be a computer on the market that will fill that space. I'll keep this really simple.

Main things to focus on are:
RAM
For the above, just go with 8GB of ram. That'll be more than you need.

CPU
How much power you need, doesn't sound like a lot if you're just doing Word, Excel and printing stuff, so don't be afraid to go with less Things are a lot more powerful on the lower end then they used to be. Find the minimum and go up one level though as your power will degrade over time. This isn't due to the CPU, but our perceived reality as newer computer get faster and the actuality as poor memory management, bloatware and various background processes begin to rob your computer of processing power and speed. Go with Intel(Security reasons). You can look up their processors on WIkipedia for a good little chart that will display all the CPU models for each generation. You won't need to go with the latest generation, so don't worry about that.

GPU
Graphics Processing Unit. Graphics need to have very mundane tasks done in "simultaneously" to display. It's a lot of Calculus 3 and linear algebra on the inside going on. TL;DR, GPUs do lots of little things all at once to better display graphics. Cheaper computers won't even have them, because they're absolutely not necessary for Word, Excel or Ppt. They're for movies, videogames and some stuff with Cryptocurrency we don't need to get into. You probably don't even need this in your computer, so don't be afraid to skimp on it. Also, computers without them usually are configured to compensate in some way anyways, so no real worries.

Display
Basically….More numbers, the better. Basically, this is describing the number of pixels in a HeightxWidth format. The bigger the number, the more pixels. The more pixels you have in a smaller screen, the higher the pixel density count. This results in a more crisp display. There's also the issue of color accuracy, but you probably won't care or be looking that hard. Don't overpay here if you're not using it to watch movies. Kids under 12 probably won't even notice the display isn't average or great if it's not, so don't upbuy for the grandkids or whatever. They'll be fine lol.

Battery
This probably matters to you a lot. I suggest downloading an app that will monitor your battery usage. Keep the battery charge above 20% and below 80% to maximize battery life in most environments. Go watch the Modcast on Power management if you want to know about batteries and solar, but if you just want to know about batteries. All of them are going to be Lithium Ion for computers. The higher the mAh, the more total battery life. You can take the time to see if where the specific brand and model computer is making their batteries, but the name brand battery is going to work just fine. It's a competitive market. I suggest buying a second charging cable at the time of purchase. MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE that it is the exact same type of cable you were given. If you send it the wrong charge it'll break it. It can be a different type of cable with the same specs, but unless you want to take the time to learn about Hz, AC and Amps and Voltage...I wouldn't bother. The reason I suggest a second is if this is mobile(like the surface and iPad are supposed to be), then you keep a charger at home and one in your bag. Makes life simpler honestly.

Ecosystem
Do you use outlook?, might want to stick with Windows. Send things from your phone to it often? Match the ecosystem with an iPad if you have an iPhone for some better features. Just depends on what you're looking for.

Overall, some sort of Chromebook from HP or similar will be fine for what you've described. I left a lot of stuff out, like Hard drive and so forth, but I think you'll be fine with the above. All of the stuff computers are made of has information online and will explain all of the above in more technical detail and more. I would stray away from any buying guides online, until you feel like you thoroughly understand the above concepts and a little more. Take the 3-6 hours to read up on all these components and you'll be a lot smarter and better for it. Even with the competitive market, there are still some junk products out there.

P.S. Don't get a Lenovo or Thinkpad(Lenovo brand). Security risk.
 
#5
I'm a Computer Science major in University atm. What you want will depend, like all things, on what you want it to do. Pretty much no matter what your niche or broad desired application is, there will be a computer on the market that will fill that space. I'll keep this really simple.

Main things to focus on are:
RAM
For the above, just go with 8GB of ram. That'll be more than you need.

CPU
How much power you need, doesn't sound like a lot if you're just doing Word, Excel and printing stuff, so don't be afraid to go with less Things are a lot more powerful on the lower end then they used to be. Find the minimum and go up one level though as your power will degrade over time. This isn't due to the CPU, but our perceived reality as newer computer get faster and the actuality as poor memory management, bloatware and various background processes begin to rob your computer of processing power and speed. Go with Intel(Security reasons). You can look up their processors on WIkipedia for a good little chart that will display all the CPU models for each generation. You won't need to go with the latest generation, so don't worry about that.

GPU
Graphics Processing Unit. Graphics need to have very mundane tasks done in "simultaneously" to display. It's a lot of Calculus 3 and linear algebra on the inside going on. TL;DR, GPUs do lots of little things all at once to better display graphics. Cheaper computers won't even have them, because they're absolutely not necessary for Word, Excel or Ppt. They're for movies, videogames and some stuff with Cryptocurrency we don't need to get into. You probably don't even need this in your computer, so don't be afraid to skimp on it. Also, computers without them usually are configured to compensate in some way anyways, so no real worries.

Display
Basically….More numbers, the better. Basically, this is describing the number of pixels in a HeightxWidth format. The bigger the number, the more pixels. The more pixels you have in a smaller screen, the higher the pixel density count. This results in a more crisp display. There's also the issue of color accuracy, but you probably won't care or be looking that hard. Don't overpay here if you're not using it to watch movies. Kids under 12 probably won't even notice the display isn't average or great if it's not, so don't upbuy for the grandkids or whatever. They'll be fine lol.

Battery
This probably matters to you a lot. I suggest downloading an app that will monitor your battery usage. Keep the battery charge above 20% and below 80% to maximize battery life in most environments. Go watch the Modcast on Power management if you want to know about batteries and solar, but if you just want to know about batteries. All of them are going to be Lithium Ion for computers. The higher the mAh, the more total battery life. You can take the time to see if where the specific brand and model computer is making their batteries, but the name brand battery is going to work just fine. It's a competitive market. I suggest buying a second charging cable at the time of purchase. MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE that it is the exact same type of cable you were given. If you send it the wrong charge it'll break it. It can be a different type of cable with the same specs, but unless you want to take the time to learn about Hz, AC and Amps and Voltage...I wouldn't bother. The reason I suggest a second is if this is mobile(like the surface and iPad are supposed to be), then you keep a charger at home and one in your bag. Makes life simpler honestly.

Ecosystem
Do you use outlook?, might want to stick with Windows. Send things from your phone to it often? Match the ecosystem with an iPad if you have an iPhone for some better features. Just depends on what you're looking for.

Overall, some sort of Chromebook from HP or similar will be fine for what you've described. I left a lot of stuff out, like Hard drive and so forth, but I think you'll be fine with the above. All of the stuff computers are made of has information online and will explain all of the above in more technical detail and more. I would stray away from any buying guides online, until you feel like you thoroughly understand the above concepts and a little more. Take the 3-6 hours to read up on all these components and you'll be a lot smarter and better for it. Even with the competitive market, there are still some junk products out there.

P.S. Don't get a Lenovo or Thinkpad(Lenovo brand). Security risk.
One thing to add, storage.

Just did an update with my parents last fall. Going to an ssd over a hard drive was a big upgrade. Your surface should have an ssd, so you'll notice a drop in performance if you switch to something without one.
 
#6
Yes, SSD is better despite the extra cost. Memory is now "solid" and not a disk that spins. Faster data retrieval and much more durable. I don't think any chromebook or equivalent runs off anything else though.
 
#8
Used ChromeOS, wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Printing is a pain and requires google cloud print for many printers which google is conveniently end of life-ing this year. Apps as webpages can be somewhat limiting and anti-intuitive compared to local apps. Using android apps in ChromeOS is still more like doing penance than being productive.

Most would be better off with a more traditional operating system design in the majority of cases. ChromeOS is more suited to the millennial/genZ “OMG! I, like, totally live in the cloud. Why won’t my teacher accept homework by Instagram DM? I just can’t even...” crowd.