New computer recommendations

Updated 5/6/23:

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

Custom-built computers

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

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.

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.

What is AI Chat and how does it make searching the Internet better?

In the past few months, AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chat has come to light as a new conversational way to search the internet. To compose the rest of this article I asked Google’s Bard chatbot and Microsoft’s Bing chatbot “What is AI Chat and how does it make searching the Internet better?”. Below are the responses I received.

According to Google’s Bard:

“AI chat is a new way to search the internet. It uses artificial intelligence to understand your questions and provide you with answers in a conversational way. This can be much more helpful than traditional search engines, which often return a list of links that you have to click through to find the information you’re looking for.

With AI chat, you can just ask your question and the AI will provide you with an answer, or a series of answers, in real time. This can be much faster and more efficient than traditional search engines.

AI chat can also be more helpful because it can understand your context. For example, if you ask “What is the best restaurant in San Francisco?”, the AI will take into account your location and other factors to provide you with a list of restaurants that are relevant to you.

Overall, AI chat is a new and innovative way to search the internet that can be much more helpful than traditional search engines. It is still in its early stages of development, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with the internet.

Here are some of the ways AI chat can make searching the internet better:

  • It can provide you with more accurate and relevant results.
  • It can save you time by helping you find the information you need faster.
  • It can be more user-friendly, as it allows you to interact with the search engine in a more natural way.
  • It can be more interactive, as it allows you to ask follow-up questions and get additional information.
  • It can be more personalized, as it can tailor the results to your specific needs and interests.

Overall, AI chat has the potential to revolutionize the way we search the internet. It can provide us with more accurate, relevant, and timely results, and it can do so in a more user-friendly and interactive way.”

According to Microsoft’s Bing “Ask me anything…”

“AI Chat refers to a program that simulates human conversations using natural language processing (NLP) ³. Chatbots are programmed to address users’ needs independently of a human operator ³. AI Chat can improve searching the internet by providing more accurate and relevant results ¹. However, conversational AI is far from applicable to every kind of search ¹. Bing has integrated an AI language model into its search engine which is more powerful than ChatGPT ² and can understand context and reply back in a humane way ⁴.

I hope this helps!

Source: Conversation with Bing, 4/6/2023(1) 18 of the Best AI Chatbots for 2023 – HubSpot. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(2) I used the future of AI web search – Digital Trends. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(3) ChatGPT versus AI-enabled Bing. How do they differ?. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(4) 10 Things New AI Bing Chat Can Do Better Than ChatGPT. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(5) What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here’s what you need to know. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(6) The best AI chatbots of 2023: ChatGPT and alternatives | ZDNET. Accessed 4/6/2023.”

I followed up by clicking “examples of AI Chat”

“There are many examples of AI Chatbots available today. Some of them include Zoho SalesIQ, Tidio Chat, Landbot, ChatBot, Manychat, FreshChat, Tars ¹. Other examples include Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon Echo, and Facebook Messenger ². is another example of a conversational AI software with exceptional listening skills that “understands every customer” and has a built-in product recommendation engine that serves up personalized suggestions and engages customers to provide superior shopping experiences ³.

I hope this helps!

Source: Conversation with Bing, 4/6/2023(1) 15 Best AI Chatbots (2023 Update) – Guru99. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(2) What is AI Chatbot & How do AI Chatbots Work? The Complete Guide. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(3) Conversational AI Examples + Uses and Insights. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(4) Why We’re Obsessed With the Mind-Blowing ChatGPT AI Chatbot. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(5) The best AI chatbots of 2023: ChatGPT and alternatives | ZDNET. Accessed 4/6/2023.
(6) ChatGPT: How to Use the AI Chatbot for Free – How-To Geek. Accessed 4/6/2023.”

Don’t overbuy: How to save money on your Internet service

Updated May 2023:

  • Now that the wireless carriers are offering Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) Internet service in many areas, there’s more choices for internet speeds and service levels. However, it may not be as reliable.
  • You may be able to downgrade the speed provided by your current Internet provider to save money with little or no noticeable difference.
  • Consider bundling home Internet and wireless service to save money.

Traditional wired Internet service often offers different speed tiers and priced at the speed of the internet connection you can expect at your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) modem/gateway.

In the Reno area as of May 2023, Charter’s Spectrum service offers Internet speeds of 300 Megabits per second (Mbps), 500 Mbps and 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps or often referred 1 Gig). AT&T’s xDSL Internet service offers slower download speeds ranging from less than 1 Mbps to 100 Mbps, and speeds up to 5000 Mbps (5 Gbps) with their fiber-to-the-home service.

In July 2022 T-Mobile began offering wireless home internet service in the Reno area via Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). Download speeds are advertised at 30-245 Mbps, which is fast enough to stream UHD/4K video quality. In May 2023 Verizon has began offering FWA in limited parts of the Reno area, with download speeds advertised at 85-300 Mbps. AT&T’s Internet Air is expected to become available in the Reno area later this year with download speeds varying from 40-140 Mbps.

FWA is cheaper, but can be less reliable

Thought FWA is often cheaper, unlike xDSL, Cable or Fiber Internet, FWA can be less reliable since the service is shared with hundreds or thousands of other users in your area using the same cell tower/node. Therefore speeds during peak times can be slower, or during an extended power outage you could temporarily lose service altogether. Before considering FWA, check out “5G” Home Internet vs. Spectrum Internet.

Save money by choosing a slower Internet speed plan

Count on spending at least $50/month for reliable internet service, but anything above $80/month is probably unnecessary for small households. If you’re on a faster speed tier with your Internet Service Provider, you can save money by switching to a lower speed plan.

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Tips for Properly Cleaning Electronics So You Don’t Harm Them

No matter what type of electronic device you own, proper cleaning and maintenance are essential for keeping them running efficiently and smoothly. This ensures that your device continues to serve its purpose for many years to come. However, it’s important to be aware of how to clean electronics properly to not cause any damage to them in the process.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of cleaning electronic devices, especially if you’re not aware of the dangers of improper cleaning. Not only can incorrect cleaning methods destroy the device itself, but in some cases, they might also cause harm to the user. This is why it’s essential to know which cleaning methods are appropriate for each

The following tips will guide you in properly cleaning and maintaining your electronics so you don’t end up doing more harm than good:

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How to Keep Money from Being Stolen Through Online Banking

Online banking is one of the most convenient services available and offers individuals, businesses, and organizations a way to quickly and easily manage their finances. Unfortunately, online banking is also vulnerable to all of the same security risks that stem from the virtual nature of the internet. It’s important to take steps to ensure that your hard earned money is secure from theft and fraud.

You wouldn’t want to suddenly realize that your bank account has been drained of your hard-earned cash!

Let’s take a look at a dozen ways to keep your money safe while banking online.

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A chat with OpenAI about Streaming TV vs Cable TV

A new chatbot called “ChatGPT” that tests what AI (Artificial Intelligence) can do has been all the rage this week. So I decided to have a conversation with the chatbot about Streaming TV vs Cable TV, and our unedited conversation is below. You can sign-up and have a conversation with the chatbot yourself at

What are the advantages and disadvantages of streaming tv versus cable or satellite tv?

There are several advantages and disadvantages to streaming TV as compared to cable or satellite TV.

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Chromebook vs. Laptop. Which Is Better?

  • Chromebooks offer a less-expensive alternative to a traditional laptop, however they offer less features and flexibility.
  • Many things we do on a computer these days can be done in a web-browser – from email, messaging and conferencing, listening to music, watching video, word processing and spreadsheets, and of course everyday reading and web browsing.
  • If you can imagine using just a Google Chrome browser for all of your computing needs, then a Chromebook may be right for you.

On the surface, laptops and Chromebooks have the same build and element; however, one has to be better than the other for your needs.

Laptops have existed for years, a portable version of the desktop computer with the screen, keyboard, pointer, storage and “smarts” all-in-one device.. Chromebooks are a new breed that is different from regular laptops. They are budget-friendly and are sometimes faster. Though they are inexpensive, they are not for everyone.

The main thing to note when comparing a Chromebook to a laptop is their differences. Aside from the price, the main difference is the operating system. Chromebooks, running the ChromeOS operating system, can do the things laptops do, such as listening to music, streaming and watching videos, editing pictures, and more.

This, however, does not bring down the value of laptops. If you want to know which is better between Chromebooks and laptops, continue reading this article for a detailed breakdown.

[Read more…]

Top Tips for Secure Online Holiday Shopping This Gift-Giving Season

The holidays are a busy time for online shoppers. According to a recent study, over 60% of consumers said they would do some or all of their holiday shopping online this year. That’s a lot of people clicking away on their keyboards and smartphones, looking for the best deals on gifts.

With all of this online activity, it’s important to remember to stay safe. Here are 10 tips to help you do just that:

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New FCC map lets you check the broadband internet speed availability at any address

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a new broadband map where broadband Internet availability can be searched by address. Information for the map is reported by the service providers, and challenged if incorrect. 

The FCC considers broadband as speeds at a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. Some providers listed on the map fail to meet the minimum speeds defined.

The map not only displays traditional fixed/wired providers such as cable and DSL, it also shows newer technologies such as fixed wireless access (FWA) and fiber providers. Availability from mobile 4G and 5G providers is also included on the map.

The map can be useful if you are shopping for internet access at an address that you are considering a move to, or if you are considering switching providers at your current address. You can view and search the map at