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For Seniors: Reasons to Own a Laptop or Tablet

Your laptop is a computer in a smaller package, so you can perform all the typical computing tasks with it. If you’ve never owned a computer of any type, your laptop purchase will open up a world of activities. Even if you’re buying your laptop just to do e-mail, do yourself a favor and explore a few other computing tasks that your laptop will allow you to do, like these:

  • Run software programs to accomplish everyday tasks. Utilize word processors to write letters or create flyers, spreadsheet software to organize your finances or household inventory, or photo-imaging software to work with your snapshots.

  • Work with financial activities. From storing your checkbook and credit card records to doing your taxes, a computer can help you gain control over your finances. You can manage your investing, pay bills, and do your banking. Performing financial activities online can be very safe if you know the ins and outs of staying safe online, and working online can be incredibly convenient, with your accounts available 24/7.

  • Keep in touch with friends and family. The Internet makes it possible to communicate with other people via e-mail; share video images using webcams (tiny, inexpensive video cameras that capture and send your images to another computer); and make phone calls using a technology called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) that uses your laptop and Internet connection to place calls.

    You can also chat with others by typing and sending messages using a technology called instant messaging. These messages are exchanged in real time so that you and your grandchild, for example, can see and reply to text immediately.

  • Research any topic from the comfort of your home. Online, you can find many reputable websites that give you information on anything from expert medical advice to the best travel deals. You can read news from around the corner or around the world. You can visit government websites to find out information about your taxes, Social Security, and more, or go to entertainment sites to look up television listings.

  • Create greeting cards, letters, or home inventories. Whether you’re organizing your holiday card list or figuring out a monthly budget, computer programs can help.

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  • Pursue hobbies such as genealogy or sports. You can research your favorite teams online or connect with people who have the same interests. The online world is full of special-interest chat groups where you can discuss your interests with others.

  • Play interactive games with others over the Internet. You can play everything from shuffleboard to poker or action games in virtual worlds.

  • Share and create photos, drawings, and videos. If you have a digital camera or mobile phone with a camera, you can transfer photos to your laptop (doing this is called uploading) or copy photos off the Internet and share them in e-mails or use them to create your own artwork. If you’re artistically inclined, you can create digital drawings.

    Many popular websites make sharing digital movies easy, too. If you have a digital video camera and editing software, you can use editing tools to make a movie and share it with others. Steven Spielberg, look out!

  • Shop online and compare products easily, day or night. You can shop for anything. Using handy online features, you can easily compare prices from several stores or read customer product reviews. websites such as nextag.com list product prices from a variety of vendors on one web page, so you can find the best deals. Beyond the convenience, all this information can help you save money.

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Because your laptop is portable, you can move it around your house or around town with relative ease. What does this portability allow you to do?

  • You can access your e-mail account from anywhere to stay in touch with others or get work done away from home or the office. You can also store documents online so that you can access them from anywhere.

  • Use public hotspots — locations that provide access to the Internet, such as airports and Internet cafés — to go online. For example, some hotels today provide Wi-Fi access free of charge, so you can work on your laptop from the lobby or your room.

  • Even if you’re staying in town, it might be fun to take your laptop to a local café and putter while sipping a latte.

Check your laptop battery-life specifications. Recently, one laptop was shipped from Lenovo with a 30-hour battery life, but some still offer only about 2 hours. If you plan to use your laptop for an extended time away from a power source, be sure you’ve charged your battery, and keep an eye on it. You could lose some work if you haven’t saved it and the battery power runs out.

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