Information Now

Getting online and digital equipment

Want to know more about how to use digital technology such as the internet, computers, tablet devices, mobile phones and find out what this technology could do for you? You’ve come to right place! There’s lots of support available in Newcastle to help you to get online, learn new skills, access technology and try new things.


Types of digital equipment

With all the options to choose from, it’s easily to feel overwhelmed when thinking about buying digital equipment. The first step is to think about what type of device you want and what you might use it for.

The main types of digital devices are:

  • computers – can be a PC that sits on your desk or a laptop that is portable. You can use computers to type documents, send emails, play games, and browse the Internet. You can also use it to edit or create spreadsheets, presentations, and even videos.
  • mobile phones – are pocket-sized and useful for staying connected when you’re out and about. Basic mobile phones can be used to make calls or ‘text’ other mobile phones.
  • smartphones – are a type of mobile phone but work more like a tiny computer, allowing you to browse the internet, send emails and much more. They usually have a touchscreen so only have buttons to switch it on and off. You can also download ‘apps’ (short for applications), which you can use to play games, get directions, access news, books, weather, and more.
  • tablets (e.g. iPad) – are small portable devices that let you do many of the same things a computer can do, but are most often used to browse the Internet, read email, and watch videos. They are roughly the size of a book and have a touchscreen, so only have buttons for switching on and off.
  • e-book readers (e.g. Kindle) – are portable devices used for reading books electronically. They are larger than a mobile phone but smaller than a tablet, and can store a large number of electronic books. They also allow you to read in large print.
  • webcams – short for ‘web cameras’ are a digital camera that you can connect to your computer. It can send live video recording from your computer to another location by means of the internet and they sometimes have a built in microphone so your video recording also has sound. Webcams are commonly used for video chat (i.e. Skype).

Digital Unite have some very helpful online guides, introducing you to various computer basics including emailing, smartphones and tablets, creating documents, Internet security and social networking.

Ability Net support disabled people to access and use technology to meet their needs.


What’s so good about using the Internet?

Using the internet can open up a whole new range of opportunities to you, allow you to connect with family and friends, save money and time and learn new things. For example you could order your food shopping online, watch TV, listening to music and talk to your friends.

Read more on Information Now on:

What you can do online – including shopping, watching tv and reading the news

Keeping in touch with friends and family online – including sending and receiving emails, and using Skype


I’m new to computers where do I start?

There are many courses available in the city for all levels ranging from drop in sessions for beginners , to weekly classes for more advanced computer skills.

For more details on courses and drop in sessions read more on Information Now on:

Computer Classes and IT Support Available and

Lifelong Learning

Digital Unite‘s guide on using the Internet takes you through the basics including getting connected, searching and browsing and much more.


I don’t have a computer or the internet at home what can I do?

You can access computers for free at your local Newcastle City Council Customer Service Centre and Newcastle Libraries. There are many other organisations that offer computer access and computer skills sessions too.

Go Digital Newcastle have created an interactive map to search for places in Newcastle where you can get free or low cost access to computers, training and support.

Newcastle Carers has computers available for carers to use at their centre in Byker. You can book a computer by contacting them.


I would like to purchase a computer where do I start?

You may prefer to buy your own computer, laptop or mobile device such as a tablet to use at home. There is advice available to help you if you decide to purchase equipment.


Can I afford to go online?

It can be expensive to purchase new computer equipment, however once you have bought the equipment you could save money when buying things online, accessing cheaper energy rates and much more. There are some organisations that can help you purchase electrical equipment and access affordable credit.

  • Getonline@home (operated by Microsoft and Simplifydigital to help people to get online) offer new customers a free refurbished PC or a refurbished laptop for £59 when you sign up to a new broadband and phone deal from your choice of provider. Simplifydigital will help you find the best value broadband service that’s right for you.
  • Happus.eu provide access to affordable equipment helping everybody buy a PC, laptop or tablet so they can get online and be part of our ever changing world.
  • If you live in social or Council housing then you may be able to access support to buy products from SmarterBuys

Last updated: August 16, 2018

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