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Here is the best computer for seniors and elderly parents


Alistair Berg / Getty Images

What is the best computer for an older person, someone in their 60s, 70s, 80s or older? That's a tricky question, and older users aren't meant to be somehow limited in their skills or abilities. These generations simply did not have the advantage of growing up surrounded by screens, and they may have specific challenges related to age.

I see this firsthand with my own parents, who are both in their 80's. Although they have owned and used computers for decades, modern technology seems to confuse them more and more. That is of course frustrating for them, but also for me, because it is difficult to provide help remotely.

Read more: This is without a doubt the easiest way to repair a Mac remotely during quarantine

So let's say you have a parent struggling with an older computer, a computer that takes "1

0 minutes to start up" or doesn't connect to the printer or may even have a virus. Or maybe mom or dad never really struggled with a computer but now they want grandchild photos viewing, participating in family zoom meetings and so on Whatever the situation, you may be wondering what the best PC is to buy for elderly parents, or recommend that they buy it themselves.

Me have some ideas.

The Best PC for Older Parents: Anything Different From a PC?

My Advice: Forget the traditional Windows desktop or laptop, it's an exaggeration, especially given the relatively modest needs of older users. Indeed, most retired They want things like email, Facebook, easy web browsing and – if they're something like my dad – solitaire. Maybe throw a simple word processor into that mix.

Do you know what they don't need? Drivers. Viruses and spyware. Blue screens of death, which are rare but still occur. And all the little quirks that can cause confusion, such as the login screen, Windows updates and Microsoft's utterly baffling OneDrive integration.

In the meantime, if you choose a system with a traditional hard drive instead of a solid-state drive, Windows will still start and shut down quite slowly.

Read more: Tired of dealing with a slow PC? Here are 6 steps to fix it yourself

All this boils down to my overwhelming preference: don't send your parents to a new PC, but send them to a Chromebook or tablet keyboard combination.

The Chromebook Option

  asus-chromebook-flip-c436-0085 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/9XY8pSBlA7NdQy59LZF6EnChf7o=/2020/04/10/f342ad40-3418- 4365 -b5fb-68b0e001149b / asus-chromebook-flip-c436-0085.jpg

The Asus Chromebook Flip is an example of a computer that may be ideal for older parents. [19659020] Joshua Goldman / CNET

Just as Chromebooks can be great systems for students, they also work well for seniors. (Note, no seniors, mind you, the older species.) These are some of the benefits:

  • They start up quickly.
  • They are effectively insensitive to viruses (although not phishing, so make sure Mom and Dad know what
  • Generally they are cheap – usually somewhere between $ 200 and $ 400 depending on size and features.
  • Voice Commands: You can say "OK, Google" from the launcher to summon the voice of Google-powered assistant – the same one that may already be known from a phone and / or smart speaker. [19659022] Tight integration with everything from Google: Gmail, Drive, Calendar etc. This means that any document created in Google Docs, for example, will be automatically archived in Drive, it's like full-time, automatic backup for almost everything the user does

Now for the cons:

  • there is a bit of a learning curve, especially when mom and dad are already used to Windows.
  • Printing can be challenging Chrome OS doesn't support as many printer models as Windows. or those who do support it, installation is not always easy. Here's how to print from a Chromebook .
  • Gmail is a really awful email client, at least when it is opened over the web (and that's how it is done on a Chromebook). It is ugly and not intuitive and is likely to cause confusion. But if your parents already use Outlook or Yahoo, it's easy to access those services in the Chrome browser.

Do you need help choosing a model? Here is the CNET summary of the best Chromebooks for 2020 .

Read more: The best cheap laptops and Chromebooks for 2020

The iPad option

My favorite choice for parents? An iPad ($ 349 on eBay) and keyboard. This is why:

  • No start-up time. Press a button, it's on.
  • Likewise, almost zero loading time for apps. Modern iPads are extremely fast.
  • Effectively immune to viruses (but phishing is still a threat, just like with Chromebooks).
  • iPadOS is easy to learn and use. Tap Mail, you have mail. Tap Facebook, you have Facebook. If you buy for someone already familiar with an iPhone, they can learn the basics of an iPad in minutes.
  • Speaking of email, I'd say Apple's Mail app on an iPad is arguably the best email client, period. It's clean, super easy to navigate and beautifully lay out the attached photos.
  • Word processing is available for free through Apple Pages and even Word for iPad.

There are of course some disadvantages:

  • iPads can be expensive, especially if you choose a 12.9 inch iPad Pro. (I'd say the current entry-level iPad 10.2 model is sufficient for almost anything, although it's certainly a bit cramped for word processing.)
  • Neither a keyboard nor the Apple Pencil is included.
  • While very similar to the iPhone, some of the more advanced features can be accidentally activated and confusing to deactivate.
  • Printing can be challenging; you need an AirPrint compatible printer. But assuming both the iPad and the printer are on the same Wi-Fi network, no installation is required; you just tap Print and you are good to go.

My best choice for parents is the iPad 10.2, which starts at $ 329, but occasionally goes on sale at stores such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. (Right now, for example, it's $ 279 at Amazon.)

As for the keyboard, one option is a keyboard case, one that supports the iPad in a comfortable viewing angle (much like a laptop) while providing some protection and portability. For example, this MMK iPad keyboard case comes in a variety of colors and costs about $ 37.

  ipad-keyboard-case-seafoam-green "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/p54l4MdKADivn1o7aLLrZBtiCdg=/ 2020/05/18 / b6c83ae7-922e-453e-b768-034a903c3004 / ipad -keyboard-case-seafoam-green.jpg

An inexpensive keyboard case like this offers protection, portability … and a keyboard!


That is just one of many possibilities; an iPad can work with almost any Bluetooth keyboard. Mom or Dad may be more comfortable with something wider to type better. (Any keyboard that fits the iPad 10.2 will be slightly narrower than standard.)

iPad Alternatives: Fire Tablets and More

  fire-hd-10-2019-2 "data-original =" https: / / cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/3T6eNNU8svDOqp0faD2d1L3l7Y8=/2019/10/04/d5d5feb7-0fb8-4976-85c6-ac4bff4cd0e1/fire-hd-10-2019-2.jpg:19659055Imagesfire-hd-10-2019-2 [19659019] The Amazon Fire HD 10 </p>
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David Carnoy / CNET

Why not a non-Apple tablet and keyboard? Absolutely, that is also an option. You can buy something like an Amazon Fire HD 10 for $ 150 – less if you wait for one of Amazon's sales, which take place approximately every 6-8 weeks.

In fact, the latest Fire HD 10 tablet doubles as an Echo Show display when docked in the optional Show Mode Charging Dock which could be a nice bonus for some people

The Fire interface isn't as user-friendly as the iPad, and while Amazon's Appstore has plenty of popular apps, it's not as extensive as Apple's iPad offering, nor that of Google's Android. (The FireOS is an Android variant, but it is not identical, so regular Android apps don't work on Amazon tablets.)

Why not a Windows tablet like the Surface Go 2 ? It will certainly boot and shutdown faster thanks to the solid-state storage, but in fact it's still a Windows laptop, with some of the tablet's senior-friendly features. I'm not saying it's a bad product, just that I think older users are better served elsewhere.

The bottom line is that my personal recommendation is a Chromebook or an iPad. If you've come up with another PC for parents solution, share it in the comments!

This article was previously published and regularly updated.

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