BUYING A NEW COMPUTER

Until the other day, we thought there were only two things to remember when buying a new computer: Get one with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and get at least eight gigabytes of RAM. Here’s a third tip: Get one that’s easy to restore to its original factory settings. We learned this lesson after attempting to replace Bob’s nine-year old HP machine with a Lenovo.

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SUPER CHEAP TABLETS

Talk about cheap: There’s a $50 tablet called the Chromo 7Ci. It started out at $38, but high demand drove up the price.

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FREE STORAGE FOR CHROMEBOOKS

We’ve written about Google Chromebooks, a laptop for surfing the web and answering email. They cost around $200 and now they throw in a terabyte of free storage for two years.

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A BIGGER STICK

In March, Intel is coming out with “Compute Stick,” a plastic thingie that plugs into any late model TV and – Poof, turns it into a Windows 8.1 computer. This is way beyond the Roku, Chrome Cast and the Amazon Fire Sticks we wrote about recently. You just have to ask yourself if you want a whole computer on your TV. It’s $149 for the Windows version, and for the real techie types, there’s a Linux version for $89. A keyboard would be extra – but they’re cheap. Our take on this? It would be good for people who find themselves squinting when they look at computer monitors. Get the BIG picture.

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HOW TO BUY A WINDOWS LAPTOP

You might think that you could just amble into Office Depot or Staples and buy whatever laptop felt right to the touch. But frankly, all the different specs can seem confusing.

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CHROMEBOOK SALES UP

Sales of Google “Chromebooks,” computers that run the Chrome operating system instead of Windows, Mac or Linux, were up 67 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to market research firm ABI Research. ABI predicts this year’s Chromebook tally to be double last year’s.

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TINY DESKTOP COMPUTER

Zotac is a small company known for small computers, and this time they’ve gone the pink limit. It’s a full featured Windows computer that can be slipped into a jacket pocket. It is slated to be available in mid November and will sell for $199. This little computer is called the “Zbox Pico” and is about the same size as two smartphones stacked on top of each other. You can plug in a monitor, hard drive, keyboard and mouse wherever you happen to go. It has a quad-core “Atom” processor made by Intel, two gigabytes of RAM, and 32 gigabytes of flash memory. It also a micro SD slot for your camera card, two USB ports, Bluetooth 4.0, an Ethernet […]

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GOOD STUFF FOR LESS

You don’t have to buy a new tablet or computer to get a good one, any more than you have to buy a brand new car. “Refurbished” machines are items returned to the store or the manufacturer, but they’re not lemons.

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THE CHROMEBOOK LIVES AND GROWS

Laptops with Google’s Chrome operating system, an alternative to Windows or Mac, are Chromebooks, and they are selling big. Sales are expected to reach 5.2 million units this year, up 79 percent over last year.

We first wrote about these laptops …

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THE NEW CALIFORNIA CHROME

Chromebook, designed by Google, is as close as you can get to a trouble-free computer. Nearly all of its software exists in a Google cloud on the web and every time you connect it looks for and fixes any problems that might have come up when last used.

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