U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Science and Technology > Computers
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 02-25-2012, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,874 posts, read 13,818,142 times
Reputation: 29048

Advertisements

The problem: Grandma's Dell desk top is 11 years old and starting to show signs of failure. I've done a yeoman's job keeping it clean and operational all this time but one more blue screen of death and I'm going to insist that she get something new. It only had one gig of memory when she bought it. Several years ago I doubled that, wiped the hard drive and re-loaded the Windows XP. She's still got plenty of space, the speed is reasonable, too, and it boots up pretty quickly for how old it is. But in addition to the blue screens and automatic shutdowns, her mouse sticks a lot (it's hardwired and she has no USB ports for a wireless replacement), her keyboard has a lot of the lettering worn off, etc.

How she uses a computer: I've set her up to do banking and bill-paying online, she files her taxes, reads daily newspapers, does some shopping, uses Yahoo E-mail, types some snail mail on the OpenOffice writer I downloaded, plays solitaire, and Googles answers for her crossword puzzles. She does not watch movies, play games other than solitaire, download music, or store large files or graphics beyond family photos. Her usage probably averages no more than one hour per day.

What she wants: She's 85, so she wants exactly what she has. I've given up trying to talk her into a laptop. She's comfortable at her big desk and as a lifelong touch typist she does not like the laptop keyboards (I made her practice on mine). I know I could hook up the kind of keyboard she likes to a laptop, but she would never move the laptop, so what's the point?

My shopping mission: I don't want her to spend a lot of money on this. She doesn't go out shopping anymore and has no idea about any computer terminology, so I will be buying this on her behalf. Am I correct to think I could get hardware to meet her needs in the $300 range? As to a monitor, I know she will freak out over any new one because she's never seen anything bigger than my 15-inch laptop screen. I'm thinking I should get her a 20-inch LED — Newegg, Amazon, etc., seem to have some of those for not much over $100 that have reasonable reviews. I assume I could hook up her current functioning monitor to a new computer but for $100 it doesn't seem worth it. Agree or disagree?

Opinions I seek: Am I on the right track about what would meet her needs? Anyone have any brand recommendations for low-end merchandise? Is there a benefit to the monitor being brand compatible to the computer? I bought my laptop from Costco because of their multi-year warranty and service I've been happy with, but they don't seem to have much choice for this circumstance. Any retailer recommendations beyond Newegg or Amazon? Would a store like Staples have an all-in-one that would work? I'm not crazy about BestBuy and I do NOT want anything refurbished. I know it works for some people, but I've had issues I don't want to repeat.

If anyone would like to chime in with an opinion, I'm listening and appreciative. She can surf away on her Dell for the time being, but I want to be prepared if there's a meltdown. Thanks!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 02-25-2012, 09:42 PM
 
15,924 posts, read 17,657,958 times
Reputation: 7645
Sounds like you have great ideas.

After switching a family members system out for a new one (similar situation) I got numerous complaints because "the screen looks strange" old=crt, new=LED seems they like the old curved screen.

On top of the new system I got them one of those keyboards with the extra large letters, THAT was appreciated.

Check out these systems:

Newegg.com - PCs & Laptops, Desktop PCs, $200 - $300

I second your thinking on the monitor, new monitor, they are cheap enough.

Yeoman huh?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 01:47 AM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,874 posts, read 13,818,142 times
Reputation: 29048
Quote:
Originally Posted by plwhit View Post
Sounds like you have great ideas.

After switching a family members system out for a new one (similar situation) I got numerous complaints because "the screen looks strange" old=crt, new=LED seems they like the old curved screen.

On top of the new system I got them one of those keyboards with the extra large letters, THAT was appreciated.
Tried to rep you, but apparently I did recently for something else. In any case, thanks for the tip about the large-lettered keyboard. Didn't even know there was such a thing. Cheers!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 07:44 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
4,244 posts, read 12,771,777 times
Reputation: 3801
Jukesgrrl ... I wish I had great advice about a brand to recommend. Not too long ago I had to get a new desktop, but I had to hurry, so I wasn't able to do any research. A HP from BestBuy was the fastest and easiest at the time. My HP seems fine, but I wouldn't consider it inexpensive (although not a wallet-breaker either). What bugs me most, which has nothing to do with HP, is that it's Win7 Home 64 bit which means it won't run many of my older 32 bit programs nor shake hands with 32 bit drivers for my printer and scanner (took tweaking to get them to work). But the HP/Win7 was happy to work with my older monitor.

But I want to commend you for being able to realize that change is hard for some people, and forcing change (switching from a desktop to a laptop for example) causes more problems. I fully understand that the full desktop-type keyboard is a component that cannot be changed - there are aspects of a laptop keyboard that a person can never get used to comfortably - especially for a person who learned to type on a typewriter, and that's what is now "hardwired". But the monitor is a different story - she would probably benefit from a larger one. Although it would be hard to get used to, eventually she would. Size-wise, if she's used to her monitor being relatively close, a larger one if too big will be uncomfortable. I have a 17" that is about 2' away from me. I could probably work with a 20", but anything bigger I would not be able to get used to. It's "hardwired" for me to be able to see my entire screen at least peripherally - I don't like having to move my head to look from one side of the monitor to the other, just like I don't enjoy watching TV on monstrous screens because the entire thing is not in my line of sight.

If Dell has served her well for so long, and I think Dells are still decent machines, why not stick with it? Since you are obviously computer-savvy, you can shop anywhere by price and not have to rely on purported expertise of sales people (which means you could shop BestBuy if their price was the best). And you could mix-n-match with a monitor and larger-key keyboard.

Reiterating -- yes, I think you're on the right track.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 08:05 AM
 
15,924 posts, read 17,657,958 times
Reputation: 7645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jukesgrrl View Post
Tried to rep you, but apparently I did recently for something else. In any case, thanks for the tip about the large-lettered keyboard. Didn't even know there was such a thing. Cheers!
Another thing with keyboards, if you don't or Grandma doesn't like those large letter keyboards look for ones that have lit letters and back lighting of the keys.

My vision is getting sorta old and the lit/back lighting really helps me.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 01:00 PM
 
Location: Houston
471 posts, read 1,376,271 times
Reputation: 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jukesgrrl View Post
How she uses a computer: I've set her up to do banking and bill-paying online, she files her taxes, reads daily newspapers, does some shopping, uses Yahoo E-mail, types some snail mail on the OpenOffice writer I downloaded, plays solitaire, and Googles answers for her crossword puzzles. She does not watch movies, play games other than solitaire, download music, or store large files or graphics beyond family photos. Her usage probably averages no more than one hour per day.
This pretty much describes what, in my personal experience anyway, most people I have met use their computers for and why I tell them to not waste their time looking at machines with 7 core 2.5gHz processors and 8 gigs of RAM. So personally I think even an entry-level machine from a reputable company will most probably handle anything she asks of it (heck our 10 year old Compaq with a 633mHz processor and 256 megs [yep, megabytes] of RAM can still handle the web decently, though sites filled with Flash animations and certain other modern features can cause it to act rather clunky, but has no problems at all dealing with email, MS Word, playing music files or manipulating photos with the printer's imaging software).

Quote:
What she wants: She's 85, so she wants exactly what she has. I've given up trying to talk her into a laptop. She's comfortable at her big desk and as a lifelong touch typist she does not like the laptop keyboards (I made her practice on mine). I know I could hook up the kind of keyboard she likes to a laptop, but she would never move the laptop, so what's the point?
I hate laptops for several fundamental reasons, including the Dell I'm typing on right now, and would only recommend them to people who must have a computer they can take with them. Otherwise, I would stick to a desktop, either a tower + monitor or one of the increasing number of all-in-ones (I will be purchasing one of the latter as soon as I can afford to).
Quote:
As to a monitor, I know she will freak out over any new one because she's never seen anything bigger than my 15-inch laptop screen. I'm thinking I should get her a 20-inch LED — Newegg, Amazon, etc., seem to have some of those for not much over $100 that have reasonable reviews. I assume I could hook up her current functioning monitor to a new computer but for $100 it doesn't seem worth it. Agree or disagree?
Buy her the 20 incher! IMO she may balk at first - I deal regularly with several people over 65 with computer issues so have experience with this - but I bet she will love the huge increase in visual real estate and how much easier it is to see what she's doing.
Quote:
Opinions I seek: Am I on the right track about what would meet her needs?


Quote:
Anyone have any brand recommendations for low-end merchandise? Is there a benefit to the monitor being brand compatible to the computer? I bought my laptop from Costco because of their multi-year warranty and service I've been happy with, but they don't seem to have much choice for this circumstance. Any retailer recommendations beyond Newegg or Amazon? Would a store like Staples have an all-in-one that would work? I'm not crazy about BestBuy and I do NOT want anything refurbished. I know it works for some people, but I've had issues I don't want to repeat.
* Personally I would stay away from the e-machines brand - our family hasn't had good experiences with them.

* I've never heard of a monitor being specific to one brand of computer.

* considering how relatively inexpensive an entry-level PC can be, I also wouldn't want to deal with the hassle of a refurb.

* HP sells an all-in-one, the Omni 120z, going for @$500 (regular price) with a 20" screen, which is what I would buy right now if my tax return wasn't being used for other things.

BTW I would buy a good surge protector for the computer, something like this, which is cheap (almost 100%) insurance against computer-killing powerline surges caused by lightning strikes in the neighborhood power grid. Or at minimum one of the many $10 cheapies available everywhere! Why? I used to sell HT gear and lost track of how many people came in saying they had to replace their system because of that happening or when after a power outage, the power would come on in 2-3 quick bursts before it stabilized, which can also play havoc with the health of electronic gear.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 01:13 PM
 
Location: Houston
471 posts, read 1,376,271 times
Reputation: 338
As an audio nerd I feel the need to add this: you didn't mention this, but to my ears most of the speakers that come with a desktop tower model or especially the ones built into most monitors usually sound substandard to outright crummy. So I would recommend purchasing a decent pair of speakers, something in the $30 to $50 range. This can make using a computer more enjoyable for anyone, but for older folks, they could use the increased volume capability and especially, the increased resolution better speakers offer particularly with regard to the higher frequencies.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 01:42 PM
 
28,643 posts, read 40,622,302 times
Reputation: 37346
I've not seen mention of operating system. If she's on an 11 year-old PC what is it running? If you're concerned about her freaking out over moving from 15" CRT to a 20" LCD what do you think her reaction will be to Windows 7? And do get 32 bit since there will likely be problems as mentioned by an earlier poster.

{Hi mawipafl! We are probably going to be in the area sometime within the next year. Pizza night again?}

A good place to look for deals: Weekly Specials Ads Local Sunday Circulars

And here. They are a little pushy about registering, but you can cancel out and still search: Compare Prices, Read Reviews, and Find the Best Deals - PriceSpider.com

And: Coupons and Deals: Save money with online coupons and coupon codes

Personally I'm a fan of Newegg and Amazon. Never had a problem with either one that wasn't resolved quickly and correctly. For the record - in all the years I've bought through them I've had a total of one problem with each - and I've bought a lot from them for myself as well as clients.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 04:21 PM
 
15,924 posts, read 17,657,958 times
Reputation: 7645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek_Freek View Post
I've not seen mention of operating system. If she's on an 11 year-old PC what is it running? If you're concerned about her freaking out over moving from 15" CRT to a 20" LCD what do you think her reaction will be to Windows 7? And do get 32 bit since there will likely be problems as mentioned by an earlier poster.

{Hi mawipafl! We are probably going to be in the area sometime within the next year. Pizza night again?}

A good place to look for deals: Weekly Specials Ads Local Sunday Circulars

And here. They are a little pushy about registering, but you can cancel out and still search: Compare Prices, Read Reviews, and Find the Best Deals - PriceSpider.com

And: Coupons and Deals: Save money with online coupons and coupon codes

Personally I'm a fan of Newegg and Amazon. Never had a problem with either one that wasn't resolved quickly and correctly. For the record - in all the years I've bought through them I've had a total of one problem with each - and I've bought a lot from them for myself as well as clients.
As she stated in the OP, grandma is running Windows XP.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-26-2012, 04:51 PM
 
28,643 posts, read 40,622,302 times
Reputation: 37346
Wellllllllll - DUH!!!! My reading comprehensions skills obviously suck today.

But my point is still valid.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Science and Technology > Computers
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:08 AM.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top