Dear Computer Lady,

I’m considering getting a netbook, but have a couple of questions:

Must one have a router at home to make it work there?

If one takes it somewhere else, does the place need Wi-Fi to be installed?  How would the netbook access the Wi-Fi?

Does one need to get separate licenses or whatever to have programs on the netbook, or if one already has XP, etc. on the home computer, are they somehow transferable?

Or can one use the netbook as if it were the home computer?  I assume it would have a separate IP address.

Do you know if cable companies charge extra for a second computer?

Sorry I’m so tech-unsavvy, but maybe some of your other readers are, too.

Thanks for your help, J

Dear J,

Thanks for the great questions!

First, a little background: A netbook is a small, lightweight, and inexpensive notebook computer that is designed for wireless connection to the internet. A netbook is designed mostly for internet and email use. They are not as powerful as general purpose computers, and do not run Vista, instead they come with Windows XP installed. Most Netbooks do not have enough hard drive space to install many programs, instead you would need to use web-based applications like Google Docs. If you use your computer mostly for Internet and email access, a netbook could be used to replace your current home computer.

I have a nice little netbook computer from HP, and it works great for internet access at home and away. I use it in the kitchen to look up recipes while I am cooking, around the house to type notes while studying, and in hospital and nursing home waiting rooms where I seem to spend quite a bit of time lately.

Now, on to your questions:

Do you need a router to make it work at home?

The netbooks that I have used have two ways to access the internet, through a wireless connection, and a wired connection through a RJ45 port.

In order to access the internet using the RJ45 port, you would need a router only if you planned to connect more than one computer at a time.

To use the wireless connection at home, you would need to have a wireless router set up with a high speed internet connection. Your wireless router would assign the computer an IP address each time it connects, and there would not be any extra charges from your cable company.

How do you access Wi-Fi when away from home?

You will be able to access the internet with your netbook computer at any place that offers public Wi-Fi. Places that offer public Wi-Fi would include some airports, hotels, restaurants and libraries.


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