Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Simply Laptops (paperback and ebook)

All that glitters...  3*
This book is beautifully illustrated with usefully annotated and labelled photographs which accurately reflect what is seen on your new Windows 7 laptop. Added to this are exceptionally clear step-wise, practical instructions in numbered sequences which correspond directly to the numbers and text annotations on the photographs. This means that the reader is shown exactly where to click, where to enter data and in what order. Bravo!
Although designed to a very high standard and printed on luxury, shiny paper with colour photographs, this guide has one or two drawbacks. Firstly, I wasn't sure who this book was aimed at. If you are familiar with using a desktop PC running Windows 7, much of this you already know and what you would need is a much expanded buying guide section.

Despite being described as jargon free, in this book we are told that, for example, DDR SDRAM means Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM but not what that means - not that we need to know that either. All you really need to know is a laptop's current memory compliment and if it can be increased later. Where screen size and overall laptop size and weight are considered, tablets are given a cursory word or two but there is no mention of notebooks or netbooks.

The majority of laptops come as a fully manufactured package; you can't, as Ms Shoup suggests, choose a particular model and then decide you want to change some of the components. You simply choose the model that has the closest specification to what you want at a price you are willing to pay.

One thing that concerned me greatly was to see that computer security was left until the very end of the book, long after the description of connecting to the internet and the use of email.

There is no mention of making recovery disks, only of backing up one's files periodically. Making a set of recovery disks is one of the essential first things that should be done after plugging in any computer, so that if the system software is corrupted, it can be reinstalled. This is essential because these days no software discs arrive with the computer.

Another omission is the use of restore points, something that is not that difficult to do and yet which can get you out of a tight spot. Also, a useful warning that could have been included is that the first few times you connect to the internet, things may be rather slow, while the security software downloads all its updates and the other pre-installed programs automatically dial into their manufacturer's servers to announce your arrival as a new computer user.

One of the wonderful photographs in glossy colour shows laptop keys being removed using a large screwdriver for the purpose of cleaning underneath. In my opinion this should never be attempted and is an unfortunate inclusion in a generally well-thought out guide. As I found suggested elsewhere on the same page, a much better way would be to gently apply the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

Right at the beginning it is stated "This book is for readers who have never used a laptop...". When you are stuck somewhere in Windows 7 and can't remember where to find something on your screen or what to do next in one of the sequences described, this book will get you back on track. The instructions explain precisely where, what and how. However, if a laptop is your very first experience of owning a computer, I suggest that, at the very least, you venture forth with the additional assistance of a knowledgeable friend.

Amazon UK Simply Laptops 
Amazon US Simply Laptops 

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