Senior Wrap-up

older-woman-looking-through-magnifying-glass-image-from-shutterstockSenior Wrap-up: a reader asks…

As my parents age-in-place, I’m looking at simplifying their lives, particularly in the technology department. They don’t use cell phones, and share a computer (an older HP laptop with Windows 7). They do use email and look at websites, but I don’t think they do any online shopping, etc. What would you suggest as a computer upgrade for them? They and I are not into Macs by the way, so only PCs.

So if your goal is simplification, then you really don’t want them using that old computer with Windows 7 much longer. Windows 10 is so much more reliable and safe. Plus, a new computer is going to be a lot faster than their old one, and depending on the specifications, can be amazingly faster. I’m talking about using a solid-state drive (SSD) as the primary hard drive, which may be an upgrade option if you shop online.

I’m going to take a guess that they never move the laptop from wherever it’s sitting at their house. So a laptop is really wasted here, and the trade-offs in screen size are not worth it, especially for older eyes. So I’d consider any replacement for their old HP first by choosing as large a screen size as their desk/space will fit. Certainly at least 20″ or larger, and you might want to consider an all-in-one desktop PC. There are two models out currently that I like, one from Dell and one from Lenovo:

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dell-inspiron-all-in-one-pcDell: There are several models to choose from, starting with the Inspiron 22 3000 series. This starts at $750 and comes well-configured for what your parents need. It comes with a wired keyboard and mouse which might be better for them. You can upgrade to wireless mouse and keyboard but then they have to change the batteries and deal with potential connection issues, so I’d just stick with the simple and reliable wired ones. It does have a touch screen, which you might want to introduce them to, although they may not find much use for it.

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There are other, cheaper models, but I think that model would work well for them. If your budget is more constrained, consider the models without the touch-screen feature and models that use an AMD versus Intel processor. Don’t scrimp on RAM (8gb is about the minimum I’d suggest), and make sure it comes with the Windows 10 64-bit operating system. To compare models, go here: http://pilot.search.dell.com/all%20in%20one

lenovo-all-in-one-pcLenovo: Take a look at the IdeaCenter All-in-One 500 series models. Such as the 520S starting at $765. 23″ touch-screen, wireless keyboard and mouse, 8gb of RAM and a 1tb hard drive. There are also cheaper and more expensive models and options that can push the price one way or the other, but I think the model I suggested would be great for your parents.

Both those recommendations come from looking at ordering online. Of course, if you have a computer store nearby, you might be able to save some money by buying an all-in-one that they have in stock at the store. In most cases you might be getting slightly older technology (still ‘new’), since the computers may have been sitting in the store for months or longer. That’s part of what makes the prices often lower.

If there’s a Microcenter store near you, you could buy one of the above, and then pay them to replace the internal hard drive with an SSD. That would cost you several hundred dollars more, but will significantly improve the speed and reliability of the system you ultimately give to your parents. All-in-one computers may be a little more complicated than standard desktop computers for hard drive replacement, but the space-saving and simplicity benefits are worth it (imo).

Lastly, it’s not going to be very helpful to your parents if you buy them a new computer and don’t take the time to set it up for their use. Things like initial setup and configuration, organizing the start menu tiles, and installing and configuring any needed programs or apps. My article New Laptop might be helpful as a go-by for setting up the new computer, although it’s a bit dated. I will be coming out with an updated new computer setup article soon.

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