Q: My husband and I share an iPad, and he also has a laptop that belongs to his employer. Once he retires, I'd like for both of us to have a computer, but I don't know whether to buy another iPad tablet or a laptop. Typically, we search the web for information, check Craigslist, pay bills, do email and watch a few movies. What should I buy?
—Julie Carroll, Edina, Minn.
A: If you send brief emails, a tablet is ideal. If you write longer ones, a laptop will serve you better. Why? Typing on a tablet is slow and often not very accurate because of on-screen keyboard is small. And keyboard accessories for a tablet aren't as easy to use as a laptop keyboard.
Full-featured tablets such as the iPad are more expensive than laptops. A 9.7-inch (diagonal screen measurement) iPad Pro with a Wi-Fi-only internet connection and 256 gigabytes of flash memory costs $800. A basic Acer Windows 10 laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, Wi-Fi or plug-in internet connection and a one terabyte hard drive (four times as much storage as the iPad) costs about $300. While you can supplement a tablet's storage by storing some of your data online ("in the cloud"), it will cost you a monthly fee to store sizable amounts of data.
On the other hand, a tablet is smaller and its battery lasts longer than a laptop.
Sometimes it's a tossup. There are good web browsing and photo-editing programs for both tablets and laptops, so it's a matter of whether you would rather use a touch screen or a mouse.
Q: I bought a laptop PC on which I use the same Outlook email program and email account as I do on my desktop PC. But on the laptop, my new email gets deleted within about five minutes of arriving. Neither a repair shop nor Comcast, my internet service provider, has been able to fix it. What should I do?
—Dave Backlund, Plymouth, Minn.
A: Your Outlook program (most likely Outlook 2016 on a new PC) needs to be adjusted.
One possible fix is to change the "ignore" command, which tells Outlook that you're not interested in a particular email. If you ignore an email, Outlook deletes it and all subsequent back-and-forth replies to it (called an email "thread.") To keep this from happening, and perhaps retrieve some lost emails, see tinyurl.com/h6p6w7q.
Another possibility is that you have a version of Outlook 2016 (version 16.0.6568.2025) that contains a flaw. If so, Microsoft recommends that you download a newer version of the program.
To do that, start any Office program, click File, then click "Office Account" or "Account." If the version of Office that's shown is not 16.0.6568.2036 or later, click "update now."
Alternatively, there's a workaround for the flaw that will allow you to keep using your present Outlook 2016 program.
Instead of downloading email from the Comcast server using a technology called POP3 (Post Office Protocol), you can switch to IMAP (internet Message Access Protocol.) If you want to understand the difference between the two, see tinyurl.com/ztmxsk2. If you just want to make the conversion from POP3 to IMAP, see tinyurl.com/h37bekf and scroll down to the section called "workaround."
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Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: email@example.com. Please include a full name, city and phone number.