Friday, December 8, 2017

Which computer device for which tasks?

 If you have an overriding need to do one particular thing with a computer device,  then which device would be the most suitable choice for you?

These choices are changing and challenging.

If you are a senior,  your general and specific needs will probably be best met with an iPad, especially if you are going to need help     The iPad is becoming more and more useful with ever new capabilities.   The outstanding new control panel makes it easier to use.  

Newly for seniors with mobility problems,  is voice computing using Amazon Echo and/or Google devices.     Their capabilities will extend further and further into traditional computing tasks. They are also dirt cheap, but you do need internet access.

If you are a reader, an eReader makes a lot of sense,  especially for offline reading, large memory capacity, and long times between charges.  Most popular are the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook alternative.    You might even want both,  because the Kindle Fire supports Kindle books best,  while the Nook supports the Epub format best.    However,  the seven inch Nook tablet  is also a nice choice, as it fits comfortably into a pocket  and runs the full Android Google app library.   I read with the cheap Moto E smartphone because I always have it with me.

Now,  if you are a writer,  choices are changing.      Notably voice input is desirable for many.    In the past a serious writer needed to use a serious tool such as Scrivener.  which ran only on PCS and Macs  in the past.   The eye opener is that it now runs on the iPad, of all places.      That is a game changer.       For those still using Word,  Word now runs on almost anything.

If you are an exhaustive reader,  you need a better choice than limited libraries.     Calibre  may not be familiar but is is the quint essential app for managing and accessing content from all sources.   Nowadays it require Windows or Mac operating systems.    

For communicating the smartphone is the choice.      The easiest way to use it as simply to dictate a text message which is then received to be able to be accessed at the convenience of the user at that end.     Just say:  “send a text message to Charlie” and let the phone prompt you through the rest of it.

Getting the news also works well on any smartphone,  but a big screen offers you more of a newspaper like array.

Facebook works well with any device which can be used with a large screen.

Many older users still rely on spreadsheets.      Ideally spreadsheets necessitate a big screen,   yet smaller laptops and even smartphones can manage spreadsheets on a large screen. The bigger question is why you would nowadays use the spreadsheet at all as opposed to a more competent dedicated application.

In the past presentations were best done with PowerPoint in Windows.    The eye opener nowadays is that the Keynote application for iPad is slicker to use once you get to know it.    The iPad also makes it easier to incorporate photos and editing into your presentation.

If browsing is your cup of tea,  you need a fast browser.      That will be best supplied by a Chromebook,  clear and simple.

If buying is your thing, you can accomplish that task in any device that runs a browser.  The Chromebook is a good choice.

When selling,  however, whether on eBay or Amazon or Craigslist,  it is highly desirable to use a device with a built-in camera  to take pictures of what is being sold.     That is why I use a  cell phone (yep) or an iPad.   I find it much easier to put up a listing on a smartphone than on any other device.

What about for addressing mailing lists, such as Christmas lists?     Sadly I have never found anything really  better than an old program from Casio which ran on a PDA.    Remember PDAs?   However there is a very decent program for the iPad described elsewhere on this website.

If your thing is your finances,  that poses a very special situation.      You may want to keep everything  entirely off the internet, which dictates a device that runs well off the internet      A Chromebook adapted for Linux will do that.      Other devices running Linux will also do that.     The $99 Linux Mac-lookalike Pinebook will do just that.   However,  the Mint application is said to run safely on internet  with bank encryption and I know of no efficient alternative for it.

Photo editing it may be your thing.      In that case the  Macintosh makes a fine choice.     We just don't know how long the Mac  will continue, as the iPad Pro takes over more functionality.  Right now the MacBook Air has some special appeal for that functionality with its camera.      For most purposes the iPad will do what you need.

Video editing requires heavy duty high speed hardware and maybe even a tower.      Users need to know that professional movie editing is done with Linux, which can be a challenge to use.    I know that Linux has great promise of moving more into mainstream devices,  but it has always been “almost” there.  Try Linux Mint on your old but high-speed PC or Mac.

If printing is a paramount concern,  Windows simply offers the most drivers for the newest printers to enable you just to plug them in direct.   Linux offers many such drivers for older printers.  Chromebooks depend on wireless and networks, but, that is just starting to change.

What about music?      The good news is that music is accessible from many devices.      Consider which sources though, and their associated libraries    There is the Apple iTunes library.     There is the Amazon library.     There is the Google library.      Just pick the device that best accesses your library of choice.

What about streaming video?     Here you want a high speed internet connection.      That restricts the choices right there.     Your device needs to operate either plugged in direct to internet wireless or wirelessly on the 5 gigahertz WiFi band      The device also needs a fast processor and fast graphics.      Much of the time the iPad will do.      Little known, however is that there is a device which will enable you to connect that iPad directr without using wireless for a higher speed streaming.

A smart TV can also provide high speed streaming.      There are also TVs which can be used both as standalone TVs and as displays for almost any other device, like your smartphone.     They are also quite cheap.    Pair a Chromebook with such a TV.    

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