graphic of a laptop computer

For more and more RVers, especially Full Timers, having a computer on board (usually a laptop) has become a necessity rather than a splurge. Checking and sending emails has become almost a daily ritual for a large number of RVers.

At first, many RV parks added a modem connection in the office for park guests to use for sending/receiving emails. Some RV parks added an Ethernet port from their office computer system to provide a faster Internet connection. And, now, more and more RV parks are finally getting on the wifi bandwagon to answer the RVers' ever-increasing thirst for faster and more convenient Internet access.

Many RV parks still only provide a wifi hotspot in either the office or club house, if they have one. However, in the past two years, many RV parks have listened to the desire of the RV crowd and have started setting up wifi systems that can be used from just about any site in the RV park. (Hooray!) It is so nice to be able to sit in your RV or outside at the picnic table to check your emails, send replies, and even do some "surfing."

To many RVers, including us, those RV parks that insist on charging as much as $6/day for Internet access leave a very bitter taste in our mouths—and we usually do not return to those parks. Conversely, when we find a park with good wifi coverage at no charge— and good Internet connectivity—we smile ear-to-ear, enjoy our laptop, and always take the time to thank the manager for providing us with wifi.

The uses of a computer in your RV can go beyond simply sending and receiving emails. Many RVers hook up their computers to a GPS system that tells them where they are and how to get to their destination. For Full Timers and Extended Timers, the computer provides them with the ability to do on-line banking and, often more important, on-line bill paying.

With the advent of faster Internet connections at many RV parks, personal computers are being used for more and more tasks—such as updating a personal web site or blog, or sending pictures to family and friends.

Laptop computers are, by far, the computer of choice for RVers. They are small, light in weight, and have just as much computing power and hard drive storage as the big clunker that most of us have at home.

We have found that also having an Inkjet printer, integrated with a flat-bed scanner (we us it as a copier), and a card reader for our digital camera memory cards has been an invaluable asset as we travel.

What features does my computer need?

Nowadays, even the low-cost laptop computers have just about all the features needed by an RVer.

Because the current crop of computers provides so much bang-for-the-buck, it is really not practical to upgrade an older model laptop computer. In today's market, you can buy a fully functional laptop anywhere from $500 to $1,500, with almost equivalent features and functionality. Visit two or three major electronic stores, and browse the Internet, before you make a choice.

It is just about impossible to find a new latop that comes with Windows XP (too bad). Windows Vista is the operating system that comes with almost all new computers these days. Being new, Windows Vista is still full of glitches, and the User interface is vastly different from the now familiar Windows XP operating system.

Try to find a laptop that comes with Windows Vista Premium and not Windows Vista Basic. (Yes, the new Windows Vista operating system comes in four different versions.)

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