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Old 10-16-12, 06:14 PM   #1
billyymc
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Laptop - under $500 - for Mom & Dad

I know nothing about PC's, and mom and dad (early 70's) are asking me for some guidance. They want a laptop to take to Florida for a few months every year, use mostly for some web browsing, email, photos, etc.

Their upper limit is around $500 - and I'm sure they'd be happy with something even less. But I have no idea what.

Any recommendations on something that would work well, suit their needs, and be reliable?

And - what kind of simple to use maintenance software would you recommend?
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Old 10-16-12, 07:33 PM   #2
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Hmmm. iPad?
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Old 10-16-12, 07:39 PM   #3
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I am a fan of ecost.com . HP has a number of cheap, fast laptops including:

http://www.ecost.com/p/HP-Notebook-C...35~pdp.iabajgc

Under $400. Windows 7. Should serve them for a long time.
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Old 10-16-12, 07:42 PM   #4
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I believe that Win8 ships later this month, so expect to see Win7 machines to be blown off the shelves. Failing that, a tablet should be sufficient- though I'd suggest one with a 10" display.
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Old 10-17-12, 01:08 AM   #5
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I recently searched for the same thing for the same price, for the same use. I compared a lot of options, and came up with the best value I could find, with the fastest speed, most memory, etc.-- 2.3 ghz b970 pentium processor, 4gb memory, 640 gb hard drive, 6 hour battery.

Here is the link.

I got it on sale for $329. I hope that helps, or at least gives you a benchmark to compare. I'm not an expert, by any means, but I tried to get the most I could for my money, and I'm happy with this computer, and I feel like I got a good deal.

Be aware that specs are not always explicitly stated. For example, there are many versions of the Pentium processor, and they perform at different speeds. If you are not getting a fast one, the specs might just say 'pentium'. Also, the deals that appear the best often are for a rebuilt computer. I don't know if that's a good way to get more bang for your buck, but I felt more comfortable buying new.
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Old 10-17-12, 01:17 AM   #6
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oops / delete por favor

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Old 10-17-12, 01:21 AM   #7
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Here's a pretty good deal on an Asus with decent specs ($299 + free shipping) Plenty of computer for the $. More than enough to handle what your parents need it for.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Asus+-+1...&skuId=5732421

And as far as maintenance software, you don't really need it on Windows 7/8. They do more harm than good. Software that cleans up the registry tend to mess up stuff more than help.

Install an anti-virus though just in case: Webroot SecureAnywhere, BitDefender Antivirus Plus, ESET NOD32 <-- can't go wrong with any of those.
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Old 10-17-12, 07:14 AM   #8
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Don't rule out android tablets.
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Old 10-17-12, 07:22 AM   #9
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I'm a computer nerd, but web browsing, email, and photos screams tablet. They should be able to plug in a USB keyboard if they need one.
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Old 10-17-12, 08:09 AM   #10
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$299 can get them a Chromebook which would suit all their needs. Internet, email, photos, etc. Virus protection and automatic updates, as well.
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Old 10-17-12, 08:13 AM   #11
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I have to recommend tablet as well. If all they're doing is web browsing emails and looking at pictures, that's tablet territory.
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Old 10-17-12, 04:57 PM   #12
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I'm a computer nerd, but web browsing, email, and photos screams tablet. They should be able to plug in a USB keyboard if they need one.
Not sure a tablet has the drivers for a USB keyboard, thus all I ever see is BlueTooth versions. They work well enough in any event.

Only issue with a tablet is printing. You kind of have to jump through some hoops to get that to happen.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:14 PM   #13
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Not sure a tablet has the drivers for a USB keyboard, thus all I ever see is BlueTooth versions. They work well enough in any event.

Only issue with a tablet is printing. You kind of have to jump through some hoops to get that to happen.
I was shopping printers yesterday and many now have the capability to print from phones and tablets from anywhere with the apps to support it. I do agree that a standard networked printer would probably pose an issue.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:54 PM   #14
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Printing from a tablet shouldn't be too big of an issue so long as you have the right printer. When we ran out of ink for our old printer, we shopped for a new one*. The new one is networked via WiFi, so no cables required. HP has been pushing cloud print tech for a while now.

*Nothing wrong with the old printer, but it used the two cartridge system (one black and one tri-color). We now have one that uses 4 cartridges.
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Old 10-17-12, 06:18 PM   #15
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I've not gotten my hands on a chromebook yet, but I think if I were in the market for the price point and feature set you're looking for, I'd be very tempted to go that route.
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Old 10-17-12, 06:42 PM   #16
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The downside to Chromebooks is that if you have neither a broadband/WiFi connection or a Google Account that you can sign into, and have no desire to obtain such account, then you have a glorified paperweight- there is no local storage (unless they now feature an off line mode).
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Old 10-17-12, 06:45 PM   #17
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If they go with a laptop- ASUS, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo are higher quality than some of the other brands. I recommend a dual core processor. If they are shopping at the bottom of the price range be sure that they get a machine with sufficient memory. A lot of the bargain machines have 2GB of ram, I found a few with only 1GB. 2GB might be enough for just web browsing but could also be limiting for some uses.
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Old 10-17-12, 07:24 PM   #18
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I'd go with a laptop, Kindle Fire's, ipads and such can real quickly out of storage space plus typing on them is harder in my opinion. If all your parents are going to do is email, pictures, and such, just get the cheapest name brand laptop you can find.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:49 AM   #19
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I'd go with a laptop, Kindle Fire's, ipads and such can real quickly out of storage space plus typing on them is harder in my opinion. If all your parents are going to do is email, pictures, and such, just get the cheapest name brand laptop you can find.
If you're typing a lot, sure, but my parents have found the instant boot-up of a tablet much preferable to a laptop.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:55 AM   #20
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The downside to Chromebooks is that if you have neither a broadband/WiFi connection or a Google Account that you can sign into, and have no desire to obtain such account, then you have a glorified paperweight- there is no local storage (unless they now feature an off line mode).
They have a nice offline mode, now. Really, it's about which apps you have installed that work offline. Almost like any other device. I know that my iPad gets limited if I don't have internet access and I can only play an assortment of games. No email or browsing without internet -- same as any device.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:45 AM   #21
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Thanks for all the input. I suggested they consider a tablet - at least go look at one or two -- but my feeling is they'll end up with a laptop mostly for the comfort of typing on a regular keyboard.
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Old 10-18-12, 11:14 AM   #22
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windows RT tablet, maybe?


but I think asus transformer is better. TF300 is around $500 with keyboard dock.
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Old 10-18-12, 11:35 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the input. I suggested they consider a tablet - at least go look at one or two -- but my feeling is they'll end up with a laptop mostly for the comfort of typing on a regular keyboard.
From a software maintenance and upkeep perspective, a PC does not meet your requirement of "reliable". This is based on my assessment of their skill level from your original post coupled with my experience of fixing PCs owned by folks in similar situations. That's why I suggested an iPad.

Actually, any tablet that has equivalent performance/ease of use fits the bill, IMHO. So the suggestions for android-based tablets are also valid, in my opinion.

I think the ease of data input is definitely something to be considered. Can their hands physically make the gestures needed to operate a tablet?
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Old 10-18-12, 07:37 PM   #24
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If you're typing a lot, sure, but my parents have found the instant boot-up of a tablet much preferable to a laptop.
I have an ipad and it is great fun. I have a very fast desktop computer and I use it for most of my internet browsing but sometimes I use the ipad. It is relatively fast to boot but so is my desktop. Actually if I'm using it every day I just leave it on, from one night to the next night it hardly uses any battery power. One advantage of the ipad is that if I get up in the morning and I need to get something off of the internet, check email, whatever, I just pick it up and go. It is real quick for things like that. For serious internet browsing I crank up the desktop machine.

I have found that the ipad is real good for CONSUMING data, for instance reading books or magazines, browsing the internet, reading email, even watching videos. For CREATING data such as typing emails or other documents, sending photos to people, it isn't so good. Apple's method of keeping data for one program separate from another program makes it difficult to put photos on the device, edit them with another program, send them out by email, etc. I use a real computer for that.
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Old 10-18-12, 10:26 PM   #25
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The new iPad would be perfect for them. They can use it to take pictures and shoot video, edit and email right from the same device, no need to import anything. No maintenance. 10+ hour battery. And it has the highest resolution of any device in its price range, just compare its screen to any other tablet or laptop and you will be blown away by the clarity. Very important for older folk who might have to strain a bit to see. The new Chrome thingy is cheap yeah but for a good reason. The display is crappy, and you're limited to web apps.
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