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THE BEST TECHIE GADGETS AND SERVICES FOR KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE, EASY, FUN AND AFFORDABLE.

This page will evolve over time so you might want to bookmark it.

Welcome to Your Computer Gal's Resources Page - A curated list of the tools and services I recommend for making technology simple, easy, fun and affordable.

There are so many choices out there that it can feel overwhelming and there are a lot of "bright shiny objects" with bells and whistles that you don't need.  

I sift through the options and do the research so you don't have to.

 

You don't need all of these items by any means.  Just choose the ones that will help you achieve your goals.

If you have any questions or an idea for a product you'd like me to to review, please let me know.

I HAVE A QUESTION OR SUGGESTION

An Important Disclosure

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. There is no additional cost to you. In fact, I have endeavored to save you money by choosing the products and services that are the best value.  I have not been given any free products, services or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site. I recommend them only because I want to help you make the best choices for your particular needs and budget, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.  

GOOGLE CHROME COMPUTERS

THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION FOR MOST OF US

You may have heard of Chromebooks but did you know there are desktop versions, called Chromeboxes and all-in-one's called Chromebases?  They all use the Chrome Operating System (OS) which looks just like the Google Chrome web browser. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, using applications and documents living in the cloud. But you can download documents and other files to use when you’re not connected.  Chrome OS devices are very inexpensive, have long battery life, are super easy to use and require no maintenance or anti-virus protection (it’s built in). They boot up in 15 seconds, load web pages fast, require no maintenance and don't slow down with time. 

Google Chrome OS Computers

The best solution for most people. See me for a complimentary pre-purchase consultation before you decide.

Chromebox $209.99

The equivalent of a desktop computer by Asus.  Just pull out your big, clunky, CPU and plug in your monitor, keyboard and mouse to your Chromebox.  Login with your Gmail address and password and you're good to go!

Buy Here

Chromebook $257.99

This Acer 14" laptop is a favorite with my clients.  A screen large enough to see well, but still lightweight enough for travel. (3.42 lbs.)  Attractive case, full size keyboard, 12 hr. battery life, and a super affordable price.

BUY HERE

Chromebase $474.55

For those who like the elegant look of a Mac, a higher priced all-in-one machine by Acer with a 23.8" screen and it costs less than half the price of a Mac.

BUY HERE

WIFI MODEMS AND ROUTERS

There's a lot to know about Modems and Routers.  The short story is that there is a lot of competition for WiFi bandwidth.  It's best to have a separate modem and WiFi Router because a modem will work until it wears out, but WiFi Routers will need to be upgraded from time to time and there is new technology coming up that will improve WiFi.  If you have a smaller space and not a lot of devices using it at the same time you can get by with a more affordable Modem/ Wifi Combo unit like #1 below.  #2 and #3 would need to be used together.

Modems and WiFi Routers

#1 Modem/WiFi Combination for Smaller Spaces and Fewer Devices $185.98

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (24x8) DOCSIS 3.0 WiFi Cable Modem Router Combo (C7000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, more...

BUY HERE

#2 Modem Only (for Larger Spaces and Multiple Devices) $59.99

NETGEAR CM500-1AZNAS (16x4) DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem, Max download speeds of 686Mbps, Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Cablevision & more...

BUY HERE

#3 WiFi Router Only (for Larger Spaces and Multiple Devices) $171.99

Netgear (R7000P-100NAS) Nighthawk AC2300 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet, MU-MIMO, Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa and Circle Smart Parental Controls

BUY HERE

PRINTERS

The cost of consumables (ink) is the true cost of the printer. Inkjet printing costs more per page than laser printers. 

It's fairly common with my clients who are only here during the season, to have problems with ink drying up in the ink jets from lack of use. So if you don't print frequently, a laser printer is a better option than an inkjet printer..

If you only need to scan an occasional document and don't need a sheet feeder, I recommend using a scan app on your phone or tablet instead of a printer scanner. Printer scanners are very slow and the apps that talk to the computer are very confusing.

TheWirecutter.com has a very informative and funny article about printers, by Liam McCabe, Why All Printers Suck - Even the Best Ones https://thewirecutter.com/blog/why-all-printers-suck-even-the-best-ones/

You’ll be gratified to know that printer frustration is not your fault.  McCabe says, “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and stop expecting printers to “just work” because that would make sense in a world where a touchscreen supercomputer fits in your shirt pocket (mobile phone). Like most things in life that you have no control over, you’ll be happier if you accept printers for the janky money pits that they really are. Most of you are going to hate something about any printer that you buy, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Instead of fighting it, try to reframe the issue in your mind: You’re not buying a printer because you’re supposed to have one at home. You’re buying a printer because it’s (just barely) less inconvenient than going to a copy center.”  

There’s more good information in his article, and it will make you laugh, but here are the highlights that I think you need to know:

Printers are actually pretty inexpensive when you think about all the amazing technology in them -- the printheads, the ink, and the mapping software.  That simple looking box can cover a piece of paper in millions of dots of precisely located with color-matched ink in a few seconds.

The cost of the printer doesn’t cover the costs of the research and development, parts and distribution. The  manufacturer is essentially subsidizing the machine with the intention of recouping it’s costs from your ink

You should not use generic ink cartridges.  Ink is formulated to work with the specific printheads. Knockoff ink might not have the right properties.  Also, inkjet printers designed for home use actually have the printhead built into the cartridge itself. There’s no permanent printhead in most inexpensive printers. If you try to refill a genuine cartridge with knockoff ink, you might be putting sub standard ink into a container with a burnt-out printhead.

Some manufacturers purposely design their printers to shut down if you try to use third-party cartridges. You may not like it, but from their perspective, they’re protecting their investment in “ink futures,” which subsidizes their very affordable hardware.

On the other hand, it’s OK to use knockoff toner cartridges.  Toner is an electrostatically charged powder (part polymer, part carbon), and the cartridge itself is just a simple plastic container. There are no fancy printheads or circuitry. Manufacturers don’t fight as hard to protect toner cartridges but they do tend to charge a higher markup on the printers to make up for the cheaper toner prices.

If an ink cartridge is missing, your printer will not print and it may not even scan.

If your home network is more complex than just a modem, a router, and your PC, there’s a chance that you’ll run into network connectivity problems. Networking technology in the printer industry is just not very good.

At some point you’ll need to manually download new drivers for your printer when you update your operating system. It would be nice if this happened automatically, but it usually doesn’t. Some companies are better than others at issuing new drivers in a timely manner. TheWirecutter.com has found that Brother is very diligent and Canon is the most likely to abandon printers that are more than a couple of years old.

The Bare Minimum

If you just need something to put words on paper, the simplest solution is a cheap laser printer.  It will cost less than $100 to buy and less than 2¢ per page to operate. Because a laser printer uses toner instead of ink, the toner cartridge won’t dry out even if you print  infrequently and you can safely use cheaper, third-party toner if you want to save money.

You’ll have to make a trip to the copy center if you want color prints and the LCD screens on these printers tend to be small and hard to navigate but it’s better than not being able to print your black-and-white tax returns because one of your color cartridges has dried up.

Home Office

If you need more out of your printer, consider an all-in-one inkjet printer. These are best suited for home offices that occasionally use color printing, scanning, copying, or faxing but don’t require any of these tasks on a daily basis.  An all-in-one inkjet printer costs about $200 and printing costs 2¢ to 4¢ per page for black-and-white and 7¢ to 10¢ per page for color. However, unlike a laser printer, you have to use the ink regularly or the ink will dry up and ruin the printheads in spite of the automatic purges to keep their nozzles clean and ready to print.

These two printer types should cover most home users.

It’s a good idea to read the user reviews of any printer that you are considering. Some printers may test well in a controlled settings when used by experienced testers, but fail the home test. User reviews will give you an idea of long-term reliability as well as details that the pro reviews sometimes overlook, like poorly written owner’s manuals, jams with cardstock, or problems with the fax machine, etc.

Printers

All-in-One Inkjet

HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 All-in-One Wireless Printer with Mobile Printing, 2-sided printing, scan and FAX

$199.99

Black and white prints around 1.8 cents per page and color for about 9.7 cents.

BUY HERE

Budget All-in-One Inkjet

HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 All-in-One Wireless Printer with Mobile Printing, 2-sided printing, Scan and FAX

$129.00

Simplified design, smaller ink tanks and scanning glass area, and slightly slower speeds

BUY HERE

LASER

Brother HL-L2340DW Compact Laser Printer, Monochrome, Wireless Connectivity, Two-Sided Printing, Mobile Device Printing 

$79.99

Won't dry up with infrequent printing.

Black and white only.

BUY HERE

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