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What's the best laptop for an elderly user?


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#1 RevGAM

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 06:14 AM

My mom, who is 76, not very computer literate and tends to forget what she learns about computing, is considering getting a laptop.

 

She gets confused about terminology and how to do things, and even has trouble understanding the difference between her webmail service (Netzero), browser and ISP.  Her tendency in the face of a challenge, be it a slow/broken connection, browser, webmail and any other issues, is to restart the computer.  I had to train her to stop using the power button to do this, but sometimes she still does.  She does tend to get easily frustrated and I won't be nearby to drive over and get her out of a fix.

 

I doubt that I could get her to remember to update things on her computer, so she'd need a computer that can, as much as is possible, take care of itself.  She is on a fixed budget, of course.  I am certain I couldn't teach her to understand security software, so it'd need to be something that can run and update entirely without her intervention.

 

Most of the time, she reads her webmail and news (generally on Newser and related sites), responds to action items from different organizations (Avaaz, Public Citizen, Daily Kos, etc.), and may occasionally watch short videos although she lacks the patience for long ones (more than about 15 minutes in general, unless George Clooney is the star ;) ).  She also does online banking, but she doesn't really do much else.  Of course, she'd need Adobe Reader and a few other obligatory tools.

 

Given her light usage and particular challenges, can anyone make any recommendations for hardware and software that might be suitable?  I am aware that there may not be a good choice out there, but I'm also aware that she may not decide to buy, too. ;)

 

Thanks in advance for your help!


Namaste, Peace & Love,
Glenn


If I have frustrated you, then I must be a student. If I've imparted information or a skill to you, then I must be a teacher. If I've helped you, then I must be a volunteer. If I've touched your life, then I must be happy!
If you had to choose between saving just your family, or saving 10,000 GOOD people (but not your family), what would you choose?


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#2 Mistersprinkles

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:18 PM

You want an iPad. Seriously. I'm in the same boat. I got my Mom and Grandma computing with iPads. It's the most simple platform to pick up and learn, it doesn't crash often, doesn't require security software, doesn't require defragmentation, etc etc.

 

Get the ipad and one of those fold out keyboards for it. Or you can splurge for the metal framed expensive keyboard apple makes. 



#3 Kilroy

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:47 PM

I'm with Mistersprinkles you want a tablet solution.  Since price is an issue, fixed income, I'd suggest an Android tablet.  You can pick up a 32GB  Kindle Fire HD 8.9" for $299 and a Belkin Keyboard Case for $89.99.  An 16GB iPad mini is $299.



#4 Mistersprinkles

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 03:52 PM

I'm with Mistersprinkles you want a tablet solution.  Since price is an issue, fixed income, I'd suggest an Android tablet.  You can pick up a 32GB  Kindle Fire HD 8.9" for $299 and a Belkin Keyboard Case for $89.99.  An 16GB iPad mini is $299.

 

No. Android gets viruses. IOS doesn't. Also iPad is easier to use.



#5 RevGAM

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 07:55 PM

What's the learning curve like?

 

Any other suggestions from the knowledgeable folks of BC?


Namaste, Peace & Love,
Glenn


If I have frustrated you, then I must be a student. If I've imparted information or a skill to you, then I must be a teacher. If I've helped you, then I must be a volunteer. If I've touched your life, then I must be happy!
If you had to choose between saving just your family, or saving 10,000 GOOD people (but not your family), what would you choose?


#6 Kilroy

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 09:06 AM

 

No. Android gets viruses. IOS doesn't. Also iPad is easier to use.

 

 

That's like saying PCs get viruses and Macs don't.  It is much more difficult to get a virus on an Android or iPad than it is on a PC.  I hate using the word virus these days as malware is a much more accurate description.  Provided you get your applications from a curated store your risk of infection is much lower.  With the Kindle Fire you can prevent non-Amazon application from installing, this setting is also easily changed if a non-Amazon application is required to be installed.

 

Owning both an iPad and a Kindle Fire there is no real difference on usability.  Cost is a factor for any Apple product purchase as shown by the smaller iPad mini with half the amount of memory being the same price as the Fire HD.  Going to the full sized iPad you can purchase the Fire HD and a keyboard and still have twice the memory.

 

Learning curve on a tablet is slight.  Tablets are generally touch screen so there is no pointing device to learn how to use.  Scrolling is accomplished by using your finger to drag the screen in the direction you want.  So, if you want to move down an e-mail you put your finger on the screen and push up.  If you're reading a book you put your finger on the right side and slid to the left to "turn the page" (there is usually also a spot where you can just press to turn).  Zoom is normally handled by pinching and spreading, you make it smaller by pinching and larger by spreading two fingers apart.

 

I just returned from a vacation where I used mainly an iPad and Kindle Fire.  I used the iPad for e-mail because it was already configured with my accounts.  I used the Kindle for reading magazines.  Both were used for games.

 

I recommend getting some kind of cover/stand, you can pick one up for less than $20 if the external keyboard isn't necessary.  Depending on you mother's keyboarding skill the on screen keyboard may be just fine.  I don't own an external keyboard for either of my tablets.  However, I don't use them full time they are normally used for light gaming and when I am away from the computer for an extended period of time.



#7 RevGAM

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 11:47 AM

@Kilroy@: Thanks for saying what I was thinking (about Mac vs PC malware problems).

 

My mom is a touch-typer only in the sense that she likes to feel the keyboard beneath her fingers.  I suppose she might get used to a touchpad for a keyboard since she's a visual typer and pokes at the keys with her fingers. ;)

 

I assume, then, that she'd be able to do all the tasks I mentioned in my original post on a tablet?  What are the drawbacks to using a tablet?  Aside from portability, what are its pluses?  How does one usually connect to the Internet via a tablet - USB stick router, ethernet cable, WIFI...?

 

I think the biggest challenge would be to get her to look at a tablet. She's very much a creature of comfort and habit.  New things are not easy for her to adjust to.  Perhaps she'd like it if she had the chance to try it out for a while...Who knows?

 

Thanks for all the info!

 

Anyone else?


Namaste, Peace & Love,
Glenn


If I have frustrated you, then I must be a student. If I've imparted information or a skill to you, then I must be a teacher. If I've helped you, then I must be a volunteer. If I've touched your life, then I must be happy!
If you had to choose between saving just your family, or saving 10,000 GOOD people (but not your family), what would you choose?


#8 Kilroy

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 12:18 PM

Most of the time, she reads her webmail and news (generally on Newser and related sites), responds to action items from different organizations (Avaaz, Public Citizen, Daily Kos, etc.), and may occasionally watch short videos although she lacks the patience for long ones (more than about 15 minutes in general, unless George Clooney is the star ;) ).  She also does online banking, but she doesn't really do much else.  Of course, she'd need Adobe Reader and a few other obligatory tools.

 

Tablets can do both Webmail and actually connect to a mail server(s) and get mail.

 

Many banks have their own banking app.  This is where the iDevices have the advantage, if there is an app created the Apple version usually comes first.  Many online companies have mobile sites designed to be accessed by tablets and phones.  You may want to contact her banks online support and see how to access.

 

Website access shouldn't be an issue, with Flash content being the exception.  Apple devices don't do Flash.  Going forward this isn't going to be as much an issue with HTML5, but older sites with Flash may not be functional or as functional on a tablet this is mainly an issue with online games.

 

Both Apple and Android devices have PDF applications available, along with document creation applications (if necessary).



#9 Mistersprinkles

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 01:06 PM

Tablets connect to the internet via cellular or WiFi. You can get the LTE version of the iPad with a data plan and connect to the internet anywhere. or just connect to Wifi when you're home. Same as a smart phone. 



#10 Kilroy

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 02:00 PM

Sorry, I forgot to add the connection options.  All of my devices are WiFi.  You can get them with a wireless plan, but it increases the initial cost by approximately $100, plus the additional monthly fee for the plan you put them on.

 

I have a Karma hotspot that I use for data if I need it away from home.  Check to see if the service area fits your needs.  I found the cost of data from Karma much better than what AT&T was offering for my phone, $15 a month for 200mb from AT&T or $15 for a GB from Karma to use as I need.

 

Freedom Pop is another provider, but there is a monthly charge to carry over your data.



#11 RevGAM

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 05:48 AM

Thanks and keep the info flowing, folks!  My mom is currently in Indonesia, but will eventually return to Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

 

I will be unavailable for the next few days as we move house. :o


Namaste, Peace & Love,
Glenn


If I have frustrated you, then I must be a student. If I've imparted information or a skill to you, then I must be a teacher. If I've helped you, then I must be a volunteer. If I've touched your life, then I must be happy!
If you had to choose between saving just your family, or saving 10,000 GOOD people (but not your family), what would you choose?


#12 Mistersprinkles

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:22 PM

My vote is for an ipad with a fold out keyboard 100%. Very light and easy to carry around, long lasting battery (longer than most PC laptops), very easy to use. Most elderly people don't need much storage space so a 16GB iPad should be fine. That's what my mother and grandmother use and they do fine with it. 

 

You should be able to find an iPad (4th generation) on sale. Or you can splurge for a new iPad Air. Make sure you get the full size. I find the mini is difficult for older people to read due to the small size. 


Edited by Mistersprinkles, 04 June 2014 - 03:23 PM.


#13 OldPhil

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 05:42 PM

Not to rain on the parade but my other half got a tablet for Christmas, she almost immediately hated it.  She played with it a few times them put it away, it is now being shipped off to my grand daughter.  A little back ground on y other half, she is an executive secretary for one of the wigs at out county offices.  She is on the computer all day and is very good at it, so go figure!  IMO I would have you elderly person try before you buy, to small to make a decent door stop.


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#14 nettechindia

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 11:39 PM

Get her a tablet she could remind things easily by saving  in it and it is very user friendly and it help your mother to learn easy also.



#15 cooluser

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 11:22 AM

To a person who has not used a laptop, PC or tablet a friendly approach would help or else these gadgets could be intimidating.  If we present the tablet as a tool to play music, watch clips, movies and have fun and stay in touch with family and friends then there will be an easier acceptance of it.  A sales pitch and persuasion over a few days can get them to like it.  Start with watching photos of their loved ones, then go into the other apps and see what they think of it.






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