Get your equipment ready to go online

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

Last week I spoke about that all important part of using the internet at home, getting connected! This week I am going to guide you through some of the devices you can use now that you have that connection.

First of all, I will say this now. The sky is the limit when it comes to cost for technology and gadgets, but that doesn’t mean it has to cost YOU that much.

The obvious device to look at first is the desktop computer. Usually you will connect a desktop computer to the router (or gateway!) using an ethernet cable. Alternatively, you could buy a WiFi dongle or a computer with WiFi capabilities built in. That will give you more flexibility when it comes to positioning your computer and will also mean less cables. Generally speaking an ethernet connection will be more stable and faster, so the choice is yours. Cost wise new desktop computers can be bought for as little as £300. Be careful when choosing something really cheap, as you may find yourself losing hair in frustration at the length of time it takes to do even simple tasks. If you can spare £500 or more, then you should be fine for some time to come.

That’s desktops covered, now it’s the laptop’s turn. The most cost effective laptops out at the moment are Google Chromebooks. They start from £199, boot up almost instantly and are very fast. All of the applications they use are web apps, but that isn’t a limitation given the advances in web app capabilities recently. You won’t be able to run Windows applications and you won’t be able to run things like iTunes, but you will have access to all of the Google ecosystem (Drive and Docs which includes support for Microsoft Office files, YouTube, Gmail, Play, etc) which will cover most if not all uses.

If a traditional style computer with keyboard doesn’t float your boat, then you could turn to a tablet or smartphone for your connectivity needs. If you are an Apple fan, then by all means go with an iPad or iPhone. They aren’t the cheapest devices around, which probably helps to explain why Google’s Sundar Pichai was able to announce at Google I/O 2014 last week that Android now has over 1 billion active users per month and boasts 62 per cent of the tablet market worldwide. You can pick up a decent Android tablet for under £200.

So we have desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. That’s not all. If you have an internet enabled or Smart TV, you can use that to connect to the internet too. The controls won’t be quite as intuitive as with the other options, but given the main purpose of a TV is to watch TV, it is an added bonus.

Alan Stainer