New computer recommendations

Updated 11/2/23:

Since you’ll likely be spending the next 5-10 years or more with your next computer, please take a few minutes now to make an informed decision about what to look for in a new computer and accessories – and get the best deal. 

Our recommended minimum new computer specifications are:

  • Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 5 processor or better. For an Apple Mac computer we recommend getting Apple’s “M” series processor rather than an Intel processor.
  • 8 GB RAM or more
  • 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD) or larger
  • Please read New Computer Buying Guide for more detailed information.

We don’t recommend trying to save money on a refurbished computer. Typically they won’t last as long as a new computer, and are less secure due to unpatched processor flaws and some cannot be upgraded to more recent secure operating systems.

We’ve seen the best reliability with HP and Dell brands. Keep in mind that cheaper laptops and all-in-ones typically only have a vertical screen resolution of 768 pixels, whereas higher quality and clearer screens are 1080 pixels or higher.

Click on the links below to view recommended computers meeting the minimum recommended specifications noted above at the respective retailer’s website. Some models may be available in-store. If you come across a good deal elsewhere, remember to look for specifications that are a minimum of what’s listed above.

Desktop PCs:

Best Buy – Dell, HP – SSD PC Desktops

Costco – Dell, HP Desktops – make sure hard drive is SSD or HDD+SSD

HP Store – Desktop computer towers with SSD

Dell – Desktop computers & All-in-One PCs with SSD

Laptop/Notebook PCs – regular price differences are due to variances in screen size, processor (speed), screen resolution and 2-in-1 convertibility:

Best Buy – Dell, HP SSD PC Laptops

Costco – Dell, HP – SSD PC Laptops

Apple Mac:

Best Buy – iMac desktop

Best Buy – MacBook laptop

Costco – iMac desktop

Costco – MacBook laptop

Apple – iMac desktop – select Apple M1 or M1 Pro/Max chip

Apple – MacBook laptop – select Apple M1 or M1 Pro/Max chip

We can setup your new computer and transfer data from your old one

Please consider our IN-HOME services to get your new computer set-up quickly and properly, vs. the chain stores offerings, or attempting it yourself:

  • Set-up and connect your new computer to your network, printer and other external hardware. If you buy from a national chain store you’ll likely notice that they don’t specialize in in-home service, or they charge much more for the option. We’ll make sure all of your external devices work with your new computer.
  • Transfer data (documents, pictures, music, etc.) and compatible programs from an old computer. Some tech services just transfer your data to a folder on your desktop – we organize your data and put it in the right folders and programs. 
  • Remove trialware and unnecessary adware. We also setup free security, backup and word processing/spreadsheet software.
  • Customization and explanation of Windows features. We’ll setup the menus, controls and buttons with familiarity of your previous computer.
  • Install initial updates. A new computer out-of-the-box is already several months behind critical operating system updates and computer hardware updates.
  • Consulting about questions you have about your new computer system
  • Recommended storage/disposal/donation of an old unused computer

Custom-built computers

If you need a computer custom-built for gaming or business needs, we recommend contacting our friends at Technology Center.

FBI warning: Cyber criminals impersonating brands using search engine advertisement services to defraud users

Cybercriminals are Targeting People with Malvertising and Imitation Ads

In recent months, there has been a surge in cybercriminal activity using a variety of techniques, including malvertising and imitation ads, to trick people into revealing personal and financial information or downloading malware.

FBI Warns of Imitation Ads in Paid Search Results

The FBI has warned of an increase in imitation ads that are appearing in paid search results. These ads are designed to look like ads from legitimate companies, but they actually lead to fake websites that are designed to steal personal information or install malware. Some of the ads lead to fake security warnings designed to get people to call and pay for unnecessary tech support services.

Malvertising Campaign Targets Seniors via Fake Weebly Sites

One recent example of how cybercriminals are targeting seniors is a malvertising campaign that is using fake Weebly sites to host decoy content that is designed to fool search engines and crawlers. When victims click on a link to one of these sites, they are redirected to a fake computer alert that warns them that their computer is infected with malware. The fake alert then prompts victims to call a tech support number, where they are scammed into paying for unnecessary repairs or services.

How to Protect Yourself

There are a number of things that people can do to protect themselves from these scams, including:

  • Be suspicious of unexpected pop-ups or alerts. If you see a pop-up or alert that warns you that your computer is infected with malware, do not click on any links or call any phone numbers. Instead, close the pop-up or alert and/or restart your computer.
  • Be careful about what you click on. Do not click on links in emails or text messages from unknown senders. Even if the sender appears to be a legitimate company, it is always best to hover your mouse over the link to see the real URL before you click on it.
  • Don’t respond to an invoice for something you never ordered. Scammers are using fake invoices to get you to call them to supposedly cancel an invoice or charge. When in doubt, contact your financial institution about unrecognized invoices or charges.
  • Go to the address directly when possible. Rather than search for a business or financial institution, type the business’s website address into an internet browser’s address bar to access the official website directly. For example, rather than searching for “Amazon”, type “” into the address bar of your browser.
  • Double-check the website address. After clicking a link in a search result or typing in a website address, double-check the website address in the address bar for spelling errors to make sure that you’re on the website that you intended to be on. A malicious domain name may be similar to the intended URL but with typos or a misplaced letter.
  • Use an ad blocking extension when performing internet searches. Most internet browsers allow a user to add extensions, including extensions that block advertisements. These ad blockers can be turned on and off within a browser to permit advertisements on certain websites while blocking advertisements on others. But be careful to pick a reputable ad blocker with millions of favorable reviews. A free ad blocker we like is AdblockPlus. You do not need to pay for a good, reputable ad blocker.

By following these tips, you can help to protect yourself from the growing number of cyber scams that are targeting people of all ages.

Passkeys slowly replacing passwords for account logins

  • Passkeys are a new secure way of logging into websites and apps without the need for a username and password. Google just made passkeys the default method for sign-in unless you opt-out.
  • As of fall 2023, few websites support the use of passkeys for sign-in.
  • Usernames and passwords will continue to exist for many years due to the slow and voluntary adoption of passkeys. Therefore we still recommend the use of a password manager to store passwords, passkeys and secure information.

Passkeys are a new type of login credential that allow you to log in to websites and apps more easily and securely. After enabling passkeys on a specific account, instead of having to type in a username and password on a website, you’ll simply click a “Sign in with passkey” button or link.

[Read more…]

The pros and cons of Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings

Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings are part of its initiative to phase out the use of third-party cookies for tracking and advertising purposes. According to Google, these settings are designed to enhance user privacy while still allowing relevant and personalized ads. However, some critics and users are skeptical about Google’s claims and prefer to opt out of these settings.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings, gathered from 2 different AI Chatbots – Google Bard and Microsoft Bing:

[Read more…]

How to save money on your wireless cell phone service – use an MVNO

If you’re paying too much for wireless cell phone service, consider switching to using a MVNO instead. A wireless MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) is a company that does not own its own cellular network but instead leases network capacity from a major carrier. This allows MVNOs to offer lower prices than the major carriers, as they do not have to invest in building and maintaining their own networks.

AT&T, Dish Wireless, T-Mobile and Verizon are the 4 local wireless carriers that build and maintain the cell tower network and infrastructure, but dozens of MVNOs resell service on those networks for often a cheaper price.

Some of the more popular MVNOs, and the network(s) that they use

[Read more…]

Charter Spectrum notifying customers about required Internet equipment upgrades

Due to recent network upgrades in the Reno area which enable faster and symmetrical speeds, Spectrum has been notifying customers about required upgrades to their Internet equipment. Charter Spectrum Internet subscribers are required to use an authorized modem for use on the Charter Spectrum network, which they provide at no additional charge to the monthly Internet service fee.

In the past few months we’ve helped many customers change to a new Spectrum DOCSIS 3.1 modem, and a new Spectrum WiFi 6 router if not using their own purchased router. Quite a few customers have been sent older DOCSIS 3.0 modems in error, and we’ve helped them make an appointment at a local Spectrum Store to swap out to the DOCSIS 3.1 modem which is required for the faster and symmetrical speeds.

[Read more…]

Your Scam Protection Guide – and What to Do If Your Computer Has Been Compromised by a Scammer

Below is a scenario that we hear about many times each month – and it could happen to you.

You’ve just spoken on the phone with someone claiming to be from Microsoft, Amazon, your bank or Internet provider or other well-known company. You’ve given the stranger remote access to your computer and they’ve shown you a bunch of things that’s wrong with it – errors, security or firewall problems, exposed social security numbers, or even offered to help transfer funds to or from your bank account. They may say that they have a “fix” – and can remedy the “problems” for a few hundred dollars.

Maybe you didn’t tell them your credit card number or purchase gift cards for payment, but the damage has already been done. In a matter of minutes a scammer can obtain or change passwords or credit card numbers stored in your web browser, purchase goods or services on your behalf or create new accounts. Sometimes it happens so quickly and convincingly that you may not realize that you’ve been conned until long after you’ve hung up the phone.

If you’ve let a stranger get into your personal device – what should you do?

[Read more…]

How to save money at the grocery store using your computer or mobile app

With prices at the grocery store skyrocketing recently, we can help you save money by using the store’s website or app to save money with digital coupons, shopping sale items and other offers, keeping track of rewards, and even sticking to your list by ordering your groceries for pick-up or delivery.

Digital coupons and offers

Many stores in the Reno area feature digital coupons and other money saving offers on their website or mobile app, including Raley’s, Smith’s, Safeway, Save Mart, and Sprouts.

To use digital coupons at these stores, you will need to download the store’s app and create an account. Once you have created an account, you can browse the available coupons and “clip” the ones you want to use. The coupons will then be applied automatically at checkout.

[Read more…]

Should you really “cut the cord” to save money on TV service?

Should You Really Cut the Cable Cord?
  • Overall, cutting the cable cord can be a great way to save money and get more control over your TV watching experience. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
  • Streaming television programs to dedicated apps on your TV requires the patience of a learning curve from the way we’ve traditionally watched TV.
  • If you’re still not sure whether or not to cut the cable cord, you can try out a few streaming services for free before you commit. Many services offer free trials, so you can test them out and see if they’re right for you.

Updated 9/21/23:

We are truly in the age of overwhelming choice when it comes to TV. There are more shows available to watch than ever before – across more platforms than we can keep count of. As well as cable or satellite TV, there’s a host of streaming services out there like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, (HBO) Max, Paramount+, Peacock and AppleTV+.

Years ago phone/TV/internet providers persuaded people to bundle services together to save money. In recent years the price for TV service has skyrocketed mainly due to rising fees from the content providers, prompting people to consider cancelling or cutting back to save money on TV channels that are mostly unwatched.

With so much choice, deciding which option is best for you can be tricky. Should you ‘cut the cord’ and switch to streaming TV? If so, which service(s) should you subscribe to? Are all of the services that you want available on your Smart TV, or do you need an external streaming device? Is streaming cheaper than cable or satellite TV anyway? Should you UN-bundle to save money?

These might be some of your questions. We’ll aim to answer them below. 

First things first: what is streaming?

Streaming is a form of video sharing that occurs over the internet rather than via your cable box or satellite dish. Streaming offers an advantage over traditional live TV in that you can start or pause shows or movies at any time (on-demand), you’re not forced to watch at specific times. Though that’s handy for watching old shows, live TV is still best for watching real-time news and sports broadcasts. You can stream live TV as well, but that costs a lot more.

Is streaming more cost-effective than cable? 

[Read more…]

Spectrum advertising symmetric internet speeds in the Reno area

As part of a multi-year nationwide upgrade to Charter’s Spectrum Internet service announced in December, this week they began advertising the availability of symmetric internet speeds at Reno area addresses. The Reno area is one of the first markets to be upgraded as part of their 3-year plan. Symmetric speeds are the same download and uploads speeds, which until now has only been offered in the area by AT&T’s Fiber service.

A DOCSIS 3.1 modem similar to the one pictured here is required to get the new symmetrical speeds.

Before this week’s change, Spectrum was advertising download/upload speeds of 300/10, 500/20 and 1000/35. Depending on the area, speeds are now being advertised as 300/300, 500/500 and 1000/1000 (1 Gbps).

The faster upload speeds that were previously only available through fiber internet connections can help improve video quality when participating in video calls, and allow faster uploading of files to cloud backup and synchronization services.

As of this post Spectrum has not announced when the faster upload speeds will be available to existing subscribers.