Walt Mossberg

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An In-Between PC


I am a retired person with an old iMac that is on its last legs. In about six months I plan to replace it with a MacBook Air, but currently my budget is very challenged. I use my computer mainly for email, Google and some note taking/writing. It has occurred to me that purchasing a $300 netbook with Windows Starter might be a good interim solution. Does that make sense?


Netbooks with Windows Starter are more cramped and limited than either your current or planned Macs. And they aren’t built with the finest components. But given your budget and computing needs, one should do fine for you—provided you are willing to tackle the modest learning curve involved with switching operating systems.


Are all-in-one printers (printer, fax, copier) as reliable as single function printers, i.e. printer only? Is there more chance that combo models will require service than single function printers?


I own, and have owned, both types of printers, and haven’t noticed any difference in reliability, nor have I received any significant number of complaints about the multifunction models. All popular consumer printers are sold at low prices and the real money is in the ink. So in my experience, the printers themselves could be more rugged.


Do you know if there is a feature to turn off the ability of Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet to track a user’s location and Web history?


The Nexus 7’s Google Now feature, which automatically presents relevant information on topics like weather and traffic and flights, depends on the device knowing your location and Web history.

You can opt in or out of allowing the device to track this data, though doing so totally can require several steps and will disable major functions of Google Now and some other features of the Nexus 7. More information is at http://bit.ly/OwdImR.

Write to Walt at walt.mossberg@wsj.com

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