Further to our recent blog post on the GetOnline@Home initiative, Go ON UK looked further into the deal to see what the scheme offers.

Originally posted on the Go On UK website

Following the launch of the amazing new initiative from Get Online @ Home, we got Go ON UK's resident tech expert, Aaron Donnell, to see what all the fuss was about. 

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The cost of buying and connecting a PC can be a huge barrier for many of the 16 million Brits without Basic Online Skills. 

That’s why this June, Get Online @ Home’s offering a £24 refurbished PC or £74 refurbished laptop with broadband from £2.99 per month for those on certain benefits.  Aimed at those with low or no digital skills, it’s designed to help more people get online with cheap but high quality refurbished computers and broadband.

Prices are low, but what hardware do you get and how good is it for beginners?  Here's Aaron's verdict:

Tech spec

The laptop I’ve reviewed is a refurbished Dell Latitude D630 with a 14 inch screen. They won’t all be the same, but will have a minimum of 2GHz CPU, a 60GB HDD, a CD drive and a 14” screen.  Plus they’ll be Wi-Fi enabled for wireless web access, have a webcam and a 12 month warranty.

Out of the box

The laptop comes nicely boxed up, with power brick, webcam and setup and licensing guides.  A reassuringly hand filled and signed quality check sheet is also included alongside guides. It’s very clean and in as-new condition. It’s also light and the screen’s clear and crisp – it has a high 1280 x 800 pixel resolution.  This is fine for most uses such as viewing photos, browsing, video chat and viewing videos (as long as you don’t require full HD).

 Capability

The laptop is powerful enough for all but highly intensive use, with a 2 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM memory. A 75 GB hard drive could be on the small side for those that save large files such as videos or music, but capacity could easily and cheaply be expanded by adding external memory to one of the 4 USB ports.  Alternatively, old files can be transferred to DVD via the built-in DVD Rewritable drive. Wi-Fi is built in for wireless access to the Internet.

Getting started

As the laptop comes with genuine Microsoft software licensing, Windows 7 requires initial setup. The included step by step guide will help inexperienced users through the process.

What’s it like for basic online activities?

Once set up is complete, the first window that appears is to set-up the Anti-Virus software, Microsoft Security Essentials.  This gives a layer of protection from malicious software right from the start, helping new users stay safe online. Internet Explorer 9 is installed to access the Internet and use search engines.  Plus users can easily connect to Outlook for e-mail and calendars (all you need is an e-mail address and password). A fully licenced version of Microsoft Office Basic 2007 (Excel, Outlook, Word) is included.

The verdict

This laptop is superb value, especially considering full licences are provided for both Windows 7 and Office 2007 Basic. It’s quiet, portable and powerful enough for everyday tasks such as creating and saving documents, e-mailing and web access; great for beginners and people looking to boost their Basic Online Skills.

 *Both deals must include broadband signup, which is not reviewed here.