Buying a computer system/Laptop computer
I want to buy a laptop computer and install Family Tree Maker so that I can take it to the Library to do additional ancester research.
I know nothing about Laptops but I thought they did not require being Plugged in and use of a mouse.
I have two friends who have laptops. they tell me I need to plug it in (I thought that was what wi-fi eliminated? and touch screens were for.)
Please explain how a "Laptop" works? Thank you.
It depends on what you mean by "plug in" on the system, and I think that needs to be better defined. Laptops will provide their own keyboards, some sort of pointing device (trackpad, trackball, touch-screen, etc), and via WiFi can communicate network data (which includes the Internet) wirelessly if you're in a location that has a WiFi Hotspot (your library may or may not offer this service). They also can run on battery to provide their own power for a limited amount of time. However you will eventually need to plug them into wall power to charge, and if you are in a location that only offers wired network connections that will require a cabled connection as well (your library may or may not offer this service).
My advice would be to determine if your library offers WiFi or similar, as that will allow Internet connectivity to a system that you bring with you. You also may find that the library offers computers for patrons, eliminating your need to bring a laptop (and in some cases their provided computers may have better access to certain databases or other features). If you determine that you'd still like or require a laptop, given the fairly "light" demands of your work (you aren't editing movies, playing videogames, etc) you shouldn't need anything dramatic in terms of processing power. That translates to lower cost, and more options - ultimately you could pick whatever machine you feel best suits your personal tastes or workstyle, for example if you think a convertible (like the Microsoft Surface) would work better, it should not at all be a problem.
You can also consider an Apple if you like, as there is a Mac version of Family Tree Maker. Apple will mean OS X, as opposed to Windows, which will translate to a slightly different workflow and way of doing things, but for your purposes should mean no limitations in terms of accomplishing your goals. If you're curious about this, and have never used a Mac before, I'd suggest finding a retailer that has Apple computers on display and going and playing around with one to see how it suits you.
As far as manufacturers to consider, I would suggest Dell and HP for "traditional" Windows laptops, and include Microsoft for hybrids (Dell and HP also make convertibles), as well as Apple. My reasoning for these suggestions is that all of these companies have generally good customer service, hardware reliability, and honor their warranties. I would avoid Acer Group (Acer, EMachines, Gateway) for the same reason - their customer service and warranty service is generally very poor, and the hardware is often less than ideal in terms of reliability.
If you need further help, or have more questions, feel free to ask.