Affordable Computers for the Home

[8/12/2020] Buying a home computer is like that old cliché about buying a boat: You can spend as little or as much as you want and end up doing essentially the same thing.

The point being, you don’t need to spend a fortune to “stay afloat” and perform the basics of internet surfing, document editing, email, socializing, shopping, banking, and video streaming.

Computer makers know that, and the market is flooded with relatively inexpensive devices that can make it hard to choose. For the average home user, you can begin by deciding between three basic choices: tablets, laptops, and desktops.

Desktop computers require a separate monitor, of course, and aren’t convenient to move around. Because you can get the same features and functionality for the same investment, and often less, in portable devices, tablets and laptops may well be the way to go.

A Shiny New Chromebook

OK, so now, laptop or tablet? Well, tablets―like Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface―begin as touch screens that can accommodate external keyboards. Laptops, on the other hand, begin with the keyboard and can come with touch screens.

The simplest machines are Chromebooks, typically small laptops, which run on Google’s Chrome OS (operating system). Most of the applications and documents are stored in the cloud, not on the device itself, so you’ll need to be connected to the internet to use most features. That lack of hard drive and limited software capabilities results in prices in the $100 to $250 range.

Chromebooks are great for the casual home user, very light and portable, but not really that suitable for people who work and play on their computers. These are not choices for serious gamers or visual designers, of course, and if that’s you, you’re already well aware of your need for speed and size.

Looking at Laptops

As for laptops―which typically run on Microsoft Windows or Apple iOS operating systems—expect to pay $250 or more for a decent model that has the processing power, memory, and storage to handle both home and work duties. They also tend to have larger built-in monitors than tablets and Chromebooks.

Docking stations, which connect a laptop to an external monitor and/or keyboard, generally run from $75 to $150 and are ideal for the user who wants both the big screen and portability, the best of both worlds.

Home Computing Homework

There are multiple sites to review your options online. Educate yourself first, for instance, by beginning with a neutral site like the Computer Buying Guide from Consumers Reports.

Then, once you decide what kind of computer you want, start shopping. Visit stores in person when you can. You might be surprised at how different a keyboard might feel or screen display might look to you in person.

Then, with that knowledge as power, keep in mind that prices change constantly and vary from site to site. Two good places to start your comparison shopping are at Amazon and Best Buy.

You don’t have to spend big money to get big functionality in a home computer. Just do your homework to find what you need, and make sure you maximize that connectivity with our fast and reliable internet!