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What options do I have to surf the Web?

Last Edit: 10/01/17

When it comes to hardware, the options have expanded rapidly over the past 10 years or so; while surfing the Web was once the sole preserve of computers, nowadays a wide variety of electronic devices are capable of it: such as smartphones, smarttelevisions and tablets. An electronic device will require a number of components to be capable of surfing the Web: firstly it will need some form of networking hardware that can accept Wi-Fi signals or an ethernet cable input; secondly it will need a screen so you can view the content; thirdly an input device, like a touchscreen or keypad; and finally a Web browser installed upon it, which is the software needed to retrieve and display the information available on the World Wide Web.

Once a user does own a device capable of surfing the Web, they will then need specific software installed. As stated before, this software is called a Web browser; which basically plays the role of taking input from users, identifies information via a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and retrieves the information so the user can view it. Web browsers are preinstalled on mobile devices such as ipads/smartphones, and usually are on new personal computers. While Web browsers do share many common traits, each one is unique, and how it displays and retrieves content will depend heavily upon the hardware it is installed. Web browsers installed on mobile devices are somewhat basic and bareboned, whereas browsers on personal computers are feature rich. Older websites are usually not optimised to display correctly on smartphones and small screens.

When it comes to surfing the Web with a browser, the ways in which to do are the same on each browser. There are basically two options: firstly, if you know the address of the content - such as bbc.co.uk/news - you will input this address into the address bar of a browser; secondly, you click on hyperlinks provided on the Web page you are viewing. Hyperlinks are text which have a URL address embedded within them; the most useful way to find relevant hyperlinks is by submitting queries to search engines such as Google.