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Buying laptop computer; best Internet for Alaska trip

Buying a laptop

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:

I'm thinking about purchasing a laptop computer for traveling. I'm not computer smart, so what all do I need to travel with? How large of a computer do I need? Do I need an air card or is campground Wi-Fi acceptable? What else do I need?

I only need something basic, like for checking campground Web sites (I won’t be doing banking or other tasks on secure Web sites). I would like a computer that will store photographs, though. My cell phone is through Verizon.

Ralph Johnson

Ralph:

That is quite a question, and one we Computer Geeks get quite often.

I wrote an article some time ago called Tips for buying a computer. It is still a good starting place.

A laptop is the right way to go. Expect to pay $500 to $700 for a good PC laptop, upward of $1,000 for a Mac.

Size matters when it comes to the display. You want something easy to read, but also small enough to carry. I like screen sizes in the 14- to 15-inch range.

A cellular air card will allow you to connect conveniently in your motorhome, even while on the road. Verizon has the best nationwide coverage, overall. Expect to pay around $50/month for service. Check around for deals.

If you have a smart-phone, you may be able to get by with tethering your phone to the computer for Internet access.

Often, using Wi-Fi means taking your computer to where it is available. Wi-Fi can be unreliable, but you can often find it for free.

By the way, it is safe to use the Internet to do your banking, as long as you observe proper online safety measures.

All laptops now come with hard drives that have plenty of capacity for photos and even video. Consider an external portable USB hard drive for backups and extra storage.

Hope this helps. You’ll find more articles and information in our Ask the Computer Geeks section on FMCA.com.

— Jim Guld


Best Internet for Alaska trip

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:

I have a Datastorm system with a D2 controller and a DW6000 modem. I also have the bird on the wire for DirecTV. I know it is time to upgrade my modem and controller, but I wanted to make the best change to get Internet on the Alaska trip. I heard I could get the new modem set up on a satellite in the Northwest that could give some service on the way to Alaska. What do you recommend for Internet service for the Alaska trip?

Jim Durley

Jim:

Alaska can be a challenge for satellite Internet and TV. The best satellite for that far north and west is Horizons1 at 127 for Internet. Your BOW probably won't work. Most folks use a separate dish for TV.

Your modem and controller are way out-of-date. You might find a HN7000s and D3/4 controller will work best. I don't think Motosat will help you on a 6000 anymore.

A good resource for more information is www.datastormusers.com. You’ll find plenty of posts from folks who have been there and done that.

Good luck.

— Jim Guld

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