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Old 12-03-11, 03:21 PM   #1
no1mad
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First 'puter for the kids?

A while back, I sold 3 dead laptops for store credit at a local computer shop. Thinking about taking that credit and getting the kids a PC to share. On the fence between a laptop or a desktop.

It'll probably be a refurb unit, regardless of form factor. What I don't like is that they put XP on everything. While XP isn't a bad OS, MS is moving forward and has or will soon stop supporting it- IE9 doesn't support it, for example.
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Old 12-03-11, 03:28 PM   #2
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I got the kids a $200 netbook w/ 8" screen
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Old 12-03-11, 03:31 PM   #3
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A while back, I sold 3 dead laptops for store credit at a local computer shop. Thinking about taking that credit and getting the kids a PC to share. On the fence between a laptop or a desktop.

It'll probably be a refurb unit, regardless of form factor. What I don't like is that they put XP on everything. While XP isn't a bad OS, MS is moving forward and has or will soon stop supporting it- IE9 doesn't support it, for example.
XP is showing its age with regards to security technologies (lack of). Try not to get stuck with XP, particularly if you've got kids. What is your budget for this?
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Old 12-03-11, 03:48 PM   #4
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Budget is bare bones. They don't need hard core graphics. They play flash based games and watch hulu.
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Old 12-03-11, 03:58 PM   #5
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Then the main things I would look at are

1) a CPU that supports hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention. This is an important security feature that forms a foundational pillar for other security features, so you don't want to get saddled with a CPU that doesn't have it. This rules out some Pentium4 and Celeron processors, all AthlonXP processors, some Semprons...

2) a DVD drive. Some software these days comes only on DVDs.

3) sufficient RAM for the OS in question. For Win7 or Vista, don't go less than 2GB.

4) a 64-bit CPU. Dual-core is nice.

5) something with a digital video connection, such as DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort, is a nice touch... analog VGA is going bye-bye.


Beyond that, realize that you can always up-license an XP system to Win7 if you want. Win7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM is about $100ish, and Professional (my preference) is $140. In either case, you can arbitrarily protect the system from Trojan Horse programs and malware by using either Parental Controls or Software Restriction Policy. This is solid gold the first time it stops the typical Trojan Horse attack posing as a Flash Player update or whatever.

If you have to start with WinXP, then get XP Professional Edition and use Software Restriction Policy in conjunction with non-Admin user accounts, as described here: http://www.mechbgon.com/srp


Geeks.com has refurbs, so I looked there. You could get something like this, and pick up a separate Win7 Pro license: http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...NOOS-R&cat=SYS

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Old 12-03-11, 09:33 PM   #6
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Whatever you get, park it in a high-traffic area of the house. I would recommend desktop--it's harder to move. Learn the parental controls and use them, and then learn the backups for when your kids circumvent the parental controls. Lock out the mac address on that PC, allowing internet use only when appropriate. I'd recommend something so slow you'd walk away in disgust if you had to use it. Make them really think if looking up whatever they are looking up on the internet is worth it. Set their accounts up, user only, and do not allow them to download, install, or otherwise change anything.

Good luck, and godspeed.
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Old 12-03-11, 09:44 PM   #7
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Budget is bare bones. They don't need hard core graphics. They play flash based games and watch hulu.
You will need *some* power even for that. In-browser games are becoming more and more demanding. Try to play zynga/facebook games on an old laptop and you will understand.

A decent rig with an up-to-date CPU could be built with around 300 bucks. Use the store credit for parts and order more parts from internet (new-egg) if needed.

PS: IF you plan on placing the PC in the kids room and IF they have a recent TV with a VGA port, skip the monitor and use the existing TV as display.
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Old 12-03-11, 10:27 PM   #8
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For those two things you can get a roku for the tv.
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Old 12-03-11, 11:47 PM   #9
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I was thinking laptop so that I could take it and put into my bedroom at their bedtime to discourage interwebz induced insomnia.

However, a desktop is also appealing, despite the myriad of cords/cables. I wouldn't want this to have WiFi- a Cat 5 ethernet cable would be just fine. I could take that cable at bedtime, but knowing my crafty kids, they'd get their hands on a back-up from somewhere. But the keyboard would be harder for them to 'replace' without being noticed.

As far as the Parental controls and the UAC's go, I was already planning on setting myself as the Admin and denying them Admin rights on their accounts.

I've also got a boot disk for Ubuntu around here somewhere that is read only. They wouldn't be able to download or change anything on the HD while that disk is running...
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Old 12-04-11, 12:23 AM   #10
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As far as the Parental controls and the UAC's go, I was already planning on setting myself as the Admin and denying them Admin rights on their accounts.
The new wisdom is to set up a separate Admin account that no one routinely logs onto. Everyone, parents included, can and should run a Standard User account on Win7 or Vista.
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Old 12-04-11, 12:29 AM   #11
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^ Great idea taking the keyboard, the parental controls and the boot disk are also great. About the cables, I would not worry too much because even with a laptop you gonna end up with lots of cable anyway. I have laptops for my kids and found that:

1) Speakers are not loud enough most of the time, ergo, external speakers (one audio cable) will eventually be required.
2) Speakers will need to be amplified (one speaker's power cable).
3 & 4) Screen will be too small so either monitor or TV will be required (one video cable & another peripheral power cable).
5) If they cant stand the touch pad, you will need a mouse (yet another cable... plz don't give'em wireless, they will lose it).
6) Eventually you will add a real keyboard anyways (another cable).
7) Wifi will cause video to stop/pause all the time, some cat5 will be laid (yet another cable)
8) Laptop will require charge (Laptop's power cable)
9) If any usb devices will be used (camera, cellphone, 2.5 HDD, etc) factor in at least one USB cable.
10) At some point somebody will plug in some headphones so you wont hear the expletives of youtube videos (another cable).
11) Laptop will heat up and you will place it over one of those fan-equiped laptop stands (another power cable).

...trust me, I went the old laptop route and regretted it. Can't wait to replace the laptops with desktops.

PS, don't keylog ur kids m'kay.
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Old 12-04-11, 07:01 AM   #12
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The new wisdom is to set up a separate Admin account that no one routinely logs onto. Everyone, parents included, can and should run a Standard User account on Win7 or Vista.
the best thing is, flash games don't require any admin control, except for the installation and updating of the flash software itself.
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Old 12-04-11, 08:09 AM   #13
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I wouldn't want this to have WiFi- a Cat 5 ethernet cable would be just fine.
With wifi, you can allow only certain computers internet access at certain times through the router. It's very easy to set up, password protected, and much more reliable than taking a cable. I've moved away from as many cables as I could over the years, I hate the disorganization. Today's routers are so good that under general use you won't even be able to tell the difference between wired/wireless.
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Old 12-04-11, 01:43 PM   #14
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With wifi, you can allow only certain computers internet access at certain times through the router. It's very easy to set up, password protected, and much more reliable than taking a cable. I've moved away from as many cables as I could over the years, I hate the disorganization. Today's routers are so good that under general use you won't even be able to tell the difference between wired/wireless.
And hopefully there are no neighbors with unsecured WiFi nearby
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Old 12-04-11, 04:04 PM   #15
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Try to find an ASUS.
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Old 12-04-11, 09:49 PM   #16
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And hopefully there are no neighbors with unsecured WiFi nearby
Everyone around here has their home networks locked down.
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Old 12-04-11, 09:58 PM   #17
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The kids aren't getting a PC for a bit yet. Wife went to get ink for our printer and came home with a whole new printer. Not sure how the fax function is going to work when we don't have a land line...
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