So, after living a whole day with my wife's tired old laptop, I broke down and bought a new computer. I didn't get really fancy, but $700 later I ended up with a new Dell Inspiron 3847. It's a bit of a learning experience, as technology has advanced so much since the last time I bought a new system in 2007. I went for the familiar tower because it at least left me with some familiarity, and it's expandable if I need to add anything to it (or have someone more tech savvy add to it for me).
There were several features I avoided. I didn't want a touchscreen interface. I keep my screen far enough away from my face that it would be annoying to lean forward to tap the screen for much of anything. I also didn't want a webcam. They just aren't my thing, so I could not envision a use for one (and there's no need to give the NSA spies an easy route to peep at me). I also avoided the "wireless" keyboard & mouse. A lot of people swear by such technology, but I still prefer to be wired.
The new system still takes some getting used to. Windows XP was a very familiar and user-friendly interface, and Windows 8.1 is so much different. It's like putting on a new pair of shoes. They don't quite feel right until you wear them in. My dead dell Vostro was like a ratty pair of boots with holes in them, but they felt good until things got cold. Overall, some things are proving to be easier with the new system, and some things quite awkward. The very flat keyboard is still very unusual for me, but I'll get the hang of it. I like the new 24" hd monitor; a vast improvement.
As I continue to get accustomed to my new setup, things will slow a little bit. I expect to catch up with things in the next week or two.