What kind of computer should I get?

James Douglas B August 26, 2013

My elderly parents surf the web, answer email, view photos and need a new computer.  What kind should they get?

  1. Susendeep D
    November 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Have a look at the article link below -

    8 Reasons Why Even Microsoft Agrees the Windows Desktop is a Nightmare

    So,if you agree with the points mentioned in the above article and want to shield your parents from the complexities,then MacBook Air would be plausible.

  2. Oron Joffe
    August 27, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I have a fair number of elderly clients and friends, and have discussed these issues with them on a number of occasions. There is no single answer, but here are a few points to consider.

    Tablets (particularly the iPad), are an excellent choice if: their eyes are good enough to read the relatively small screen, and if they don't need to type a lot (you could get them a keyboard, but some of the simplicity of the the iPad's setup will be lost.

    Many elderly people want desktop machines because they are used to it and also, as they perceive it, they don't use the computer on the go and don't need the portability. Fair enough, except that pound for pound laptops today tend to be better value than desktop PCs, AND they're smaller and quieter. Every one of my elderly acquaintences who has bought a laptop has been delighted with it! However, see the next point.

    Many elderly people can't see as well as they used to. It's not only the "perscription" (shortsightedness etc), but primarily the visual acuity ("resolution") that goes. Many of them find that they need to *reduce* the screen's resolution in order to be able to view the screen. With that in mind, don't try to get the highest resolution screen, it's counter productive! Also, if they have a fixed setup in mind, I would strongly recommend a large screen (24 or even 27 inch). These are not expensive nowadays and make a world of difference for someone who has reduced the resolution on their screen.

    Finally, Matt's point about getting a computer with a similar OS to what they are used to is an excellent one. Unfortunately, Windows 8 is a big departure from previous versions of Windows (at least from a user interface perspective, which is really all the user cares about), so if they are Windows users, moving to a Mac or even to Linux may not be such a bad idea. If they were Windows users, I would recommend you invest a bit in getting them tuition in the new system (whatever it is) to make them more comfortable with it.

  3. Ahad A
    August 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I think Core i7 3rd Generation will be best for you, this computer will do great performance for you. Thank you

    Ahad Ammar

  4. Hovsep A
    August 27, 2013 at 7:57 am
  5. Matt Smith
    August 27, 2013 at 3:59 am

    First, get a computer with whatever operating system they are used too. If they have always used Windows, get Windows. If OS X, get that. Etc.

    As far as type goes, I'd just suggest a very simple desktop - basically, the least expensive one to offer reasonable specifications. They're not going to care much about the performance, and any normal desktop can handle what you say they need to do.

    Heck, they could even get by with a tablet, from the sound of it. But that may be a riskier proposition, since they might still find it too different from what they're used to. Also, you'd need to buy a keyboard add-on for the emails, unless they're people of few words.

  6. Tim Brookes
    August 27, 2013 at 1:25 am

    I'd recommend a MacBook Air, preferably the 13" model if for the extra screen real estate and lack of squinting. It has a ridiculous 7-9 hour battery life, was recently updated with Intel's latest family of processors, is absolutely tiny and thus easy to carry anywhere and it's fairly priced when you look at the competition and what you get for your money.


    It also runs Mac OS X, which is bomb-proof in terms of recovery, taking it to the Genius Bar, iLife and other included apps, has a fast SSD and generally won't cause too much frustration if things go wrong. I can see from the question that you yourself used a Mac to submit this question, so there's a chance you could probably sort out any problems they have. Just a thought.

    The Air is a machine that was built for surfing the web and replying to email and is more than capable of chewing through HD video if required. The other way of looking at it is if the computer is going to be sitting in a study or permanently on the desk, the new iMac is a beast too but obviously you lose the portability. If your parents already have a monitor, you could simply grab the MBA and the Thunderbolt-to-DVI/HDMI output converter and use existing screens on a desk while retaining portability.

    If it's Windows you're after I'd go for something by Lenovo (ThinkPads) because they're just about the only Windows OEM I could still consider buying for those legendary keyboards and general build quality. I'd still say Mac though, which is what I'm going to recommend my parents switch over to when their current laptop croaks it (so there's a bit of method to my verbal madness).

  7. Dalsan M
    August 27, 2013 at 12:31 am

    This is all suggestive, but it depends on if they wish to have portability like a laptop, smaller form factor like a tablet, or stationary with a desk and chair using a desktop. For overall budget to performance ratio, AMD Windows based systems running A4 or A6 APU's would handle more than what your parents may need, but it also means upgrading would not be necessary in the next several years. Video capabilities would be more than sufficient. For simplicity of use in tablet form, iPad would offer better than most other brands and operating systems. No matter what system you get, there should be accessibility options available in order to enlarge text size, viewing size, speech-to-text, and text-to-speech. I would even suggest a Windows 8 touch-screen laptop or all-in-one desktop computer if arthritis or hand mobility may be an issue since the apps they would use most often can be placed on the main screen and all they have to do is touch what they want to use or do. Though it may not be liked by many users, it may be a great and easy to use interface for less tech savvy or computer literate users of any age. Otherwise, a cheap and very usable platform to use would be Google's Chromebook. Internet connectivity would be a must, but it is very quick to boot and offers everything a very basic user would need.

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