The truth is that seniors as a group have been the slowest adaptors of technology. We are all familiar with the stereotype of the 12-year-old child showing their grandparent how to use a smart phone or tablet, but this is less and less true. Today’s seniors are becoming increasingly familiar with and dependent on technology. Sometimes we think this is a bad thing, but regardless of what we want, it is unavoidable. Technology is just too pervasive (and too useful) for seniors to ignore.

From time to time, the OurSeniors.net blog will try to bite off a small piece of the larger technology puzzle and digest it for you in a few paragraphs. Our first bite will be the subject of Chromebooks, or “How Do you choose between a Chromebook and a Traditional Laptop?” If you are thinking of a new computer, this is something you should consider. Both laptops (Windows or Apple) and Chromebooks have advantages and disadvantages.

The attractiveness of Chromebooks is often in the price. Shopping quickly on Amazon or eBay, you will find several Chromebook models for less than $100. The least expensive Windows based laptop (new) was $158. New Apple laptops are far more expensive, starting at $999 for the older 2017 MacBook Air. So, why is a Chromebook so economical, and does it make any difference to the user?

Chromebook computers come with fewer capacities than do laptops. They never have optical drives (DVD players) and do not have “hard drives” like laptops. The amount of internal, in-the-computer, storage for things like documents, pictures and music is typically limited to 32 to 64 GB. With Chromebooks, most of the programs run and the data stored is not in the computer itself, it will come from the internet, the “Cloud.” This is a good way to think of Chromebooks; they are a gateway to the internet and all the things you can do on the internet. However, without a fast, dependable internet connection, a Chromebook is a limited tool.

Chromebooks run on the Chrome OS operating system, not on Windows or Apple OS. This means you cannot install traditional Windows programs on them. If you need Windows programs like Word and Excel or one designed to run on Windows (i.e. Photoshop or Audacity), a Chromebook will not do. The Chrome Web Store has hundreds of apps, many of them free. These “apps” are really just bookmarks that take you to websites. For example, the Google Docs app takes you to www.docs.google.com where you will find programs similar to Microsoft Office applications.

Because they have limited functions, Chromebooks are lighter than traditional laptops and have long battery lives. Users of traditional laptops are surprised when they first pickup a Chromebook; it is so light and easy to handle. They are often nimbler than Windows laptops, taking less time to boot up and run programs, but this is a function of the internet connection speed and the fact that many of their apps are less complicated.

Here is the bottom line – if your computer life is limited to online browsing, checking Facebook, chatting, reading blogs or streaming entertainment, a Chromebook may be the best choice. Remember, this requires a dependable, fast internet connection. If you are using your computer for more complicated functions like bookkeeping, editing, graphics applications or if you must have access to a program like Outlook, a Windows laptop is required. Apple MacBooks are often favored by people who need high-end graphic programs or educational software.

Fast-TeksWe hope that helps. If you are having difficulty with your current computer or internet devices, one of the OurSeniors.net Family’ partners is well qualified to help. Fast-Teks is a nationwide computer and network services provider. As the nation’s premier on-site computer service company, Fast-Teks offers a full range of computer, software and IT solutions to meet the needs of home computer users as well as businesses. All of Fast-Teks’ technicians are highly trained and certified in their area of expertise.

Fast-Tek has helped thousands of seniors with their computer repair and service requirements. To speak to a certified technician who can help you with your computer and IT needs, call them at 386-200-5363.  You can read more about them in the latest edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine or at OurSeniors.net Welcomes FastTeks.

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