The Best Computer for Seniors

He’s looking smug, must have made the right choice!

What type of computer should a senior get? It depends!

Now that may not sound very helpful, does it? But please bear with me a little and it will become clear.

In this post I will discuss the pros and cons of various options to make your choice a little easier. All the options are computers that I personally own and use.

They all run the latest, easy-to-use Windows 10 operating system so it is easy to switch from the one to the other.

The Desktop

On the one end of the spectrum we have the traditional desktop PC (personal computer). It normally consists of a tower, a monitor, keyboard and mouse. So it is huge and typically requires a dedicated computer desk.

My workhorse on its desk. It is several years old and still chugging along.

A variant of the desktop is the “two in one”. Here the guts of the computer that is normally housed in the tower, is now built into the monitor. This is an elegant solution that frees up a little desk space for sure. They tend to be a bit more expensive and complicated to maintain.

A laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

The Portables

There is a wide range of options in this group. I will discuss three representative models (a mid-sized laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone).

Their main claim to fame is that they take up less space, consist of one unit and are portable.

All three have touch screens which allows you to zoom and scroll with ease, even if you don’t have a mouse.

My-Computers4The Laptop

The laptop is the oldest portable computer design. Here everything is built-in: screen, computer and keyboard. It has been popular for years with people on the move like students and business people.

The advantage of a laptop for seniors is that it takes up less space than a desktop, and can be used anywhere. You can work on it in your study for example and later carry it to your bedroom to watch a movie.

The mid-sized 15” Dell model that I show here, while lovely to work on, is actually quite heavy and many seniors might find it at best “luggable”.

The Surface Pro 4 with keyboard

The Tablet

Tablets are smaller and much more portable. The model I show here is a 12” Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft and I use it with a detachable keyboard as shown.

It is certainly light and small enough to take with you to your local coffee shop, yet it is powerful enough to do some serious work on it.

Also included is a stylus which opens new possibilities of working. More on that in upcoming posts. Notice how sharp and accurate the screen is!

The Lumia 830 shown with the table for size comparison.

The Smartphone

Yes, the smartphone (in this case a 5” Lumia 830) is also a computer capable of doing serious work!

And it does pretty well as phone and a camera too.

It is also, obviously, the most portable of all the choices. I have with me all the time. The photo shows the smartphone alongside the tablet.

The Cost

These devices are not cheap. At the time of writing, they each cost $1000 CAD, give and take depending on the model and accessories. You can get cheaper but you will enjoy the pleasure of owning a quality device long after you have forgotten how much it cost you.

The hidden cost: to get the full benefit of computing for seniors you really need access to the Internet. For that you will have to talk to your phone or cable TV company. They will provide you with a router/modem and a hefty monthly fee that over time will add up to more than the cost of your computer.

An ADSL modem supplied by Telus

This will give your desktop a fast wired connection to the Internet (the yellow cable in the photo) and wireless connections for your mobile devices (the two antennas).

What to Get?

Finally, what do I recommend? It is comforting to know that you can’t go wrong. Any of the choices will work just fine.

  1. If you still want to do serious work, like writing your latest novel, or editing a documentary video, a desktop computer is a good choice. You will appreciate the large screen and keyboard.
  2. If you lean more to the entertainment side, like visiting websites, movies on Netflix, or reading ebooks, the tablet is the way to go. Remember, you still can do serious work on it,  but you can also watch a movie, in your favourite armchair, with it on your lap –  no problem.
  3. If you do want to do serious work needing computing horsepower, but space is a concern, then a high-end laptop would be a good choice.
  4. If you can only afford to get one device, go for the smartphone. In real life I own all of these devices, but in the end I spend most of my time on the smartphone. I do my emails, write articles like this one, read e-books, watch movies, check the news, shoot and edit videos, and do my banking. Even if I lost all three the other devices, I would still get along just fine. My phone is several years old—when my ship comes in, I am buying the latest model…

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