Author Topic: Best laptop for non-techy people :)  (Read 5211 times)

jeromedawg

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Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« on: November 18, 2016, 08:10:28 PM »
Hey guys,

So I'm looking for suggestions on a good laptop to get for someone who is 100% non-techy and who also doesn't take care of his stuff or keep any of it clean. This is my father-in-law btw :) We got him a brand new Dell Inspiron about 5 or so years ago and at some point the battery needed to be replaced, and the replacement battery we got him stopped working so he just leaves it plugged in all the time. On top of that. somehow the laptop mainboard short-circuited and wouldn't charge at all, so he took it somewhere and had the motherboard replaced - now one of the USB ports doesn't work. On top of that, the laptop is pretty filthy and covered in grease/oil (he runs a restaurant and is cooking in the kitchen a good part of the day, and doesn't wash his hands well before using the laptop). All he uses it for is emailing/writing stuff in Chinese, very light browsing, sometimes viewing pictures from his friends, and watching Korean dramas lol.

I know some of you will likely recommend Linux/Chromebook etc but I think he'll have a lot of trouble having used Windows this whole time. You can't underestimate how bad he is with computers - if you change one little thing, it'll throw everything off. This is how it was when we gave him a new smartphone (he and my MIL also demanded smartphones after using flip phones their entire lives, and they still haven't figured out how to use them outside of manually dialing numbers and hitting "answer" - it's ridiculous).

Given all this information, are there any decent laptops you'd recommend? Hahaha... maybe one from the Dell Outlet? Or we could just get him another battery - I think something is not right with the motherboard replacement that's in the laptop though. I really just want to drop it off at an e-waste facility.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2016, 08:12:51 PM by jplee3 »

Metric Mouse

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2016, 06:46:47 AM »
I would think for someone with the uses and expectations of your father-in-law, anything running the same operating system would be good. Just make it cheap, because the new one will probably only last another 5 years or so. I would think anything one could buy today would be at least comparable in performance to a standard laptop of five years ago.

arebelspy

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2016, 07:13:02 AM »
Chromebook. I saw your objections, and still think it's the best. It's dead simple. My mother-in-law uses it.

It's basically a giant web browser. There's nothing else. So nothing to mess up.
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Rubic

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2016, 09:10:41 AM »
Chromebook. I saw your objections, and still think it's the best. It's dead simple. My mother-in-law uses it.

+1

I bought Mom one of these for Christmas two years ago and she loves it.

jeromedawg

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2016, 10:13:06 AM »
Chromebook. I saw your objections, and still think it's the best. It's dead simple. My mother-in-law uses it.

It's basically a giant web browser. There's nothing else. So nothing to mess up.

I'm curious how well Chromebooks deal with handling writing pads for Chinese/Korean, etc... because he uses one of those writing pads (which has proprietary software that only runs in Windows) and has asked me to set it up in the past. I think I barely got it working this last time. That's definitely another dependency I didn't emphasize on enough... that could be a deal-breaker for a Chromebook if it can't even handle it. Especially if it takes more than 5-10 mins to setup and requires a bunch of workarounds through the terminal.

Here's one answer, though a bit dated: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chromebook-central/S-fl-VOjK6w

Not sure if there will have been any improvements made since then but it doesn't sound like it... ideally, a touchpad where he can write Chinese w/o having to use a 3rd party writing pad would be great. But if touchscreen Chromebooks can't even support this, I'd have to stick with a Windows-based laptop. I guess now is the time to look with all the Black Friday deals going on.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2016, 10:16:07 AM by jplee3 »

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2016, 11:45:58 AM »
"because he uses one of those writing pads (which has proprietary software that only runs in Windows)"

If it is proprietary and only runs on windows it will probably not work that well elsewhere without some effort and technical knowledge. I do know that google has some writeable language input options but do not have fist-hand knowledge of how well these tools work. One alternative that may be better for the computer and him is using voice to text so he does not get the computer dirty with his hands while in the kitchen. Google's voice to text is very good and continues to improve.

If you want to try the input options that google can run on a chromebook go here: https://www.google.com/inputtools/try/

I am a strong advocate of chromebooks for most people for the reasons mentioned earlier in this thread. Based on what you have mentioned though, it may be best for you to just get him a laptop similar to the one he currently has so there is no learning barrier (though sometimes a new challenge is good).
« Last Edit: November 20, 2016, 11:48:27 AM by pedal stache »

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2016, 02:13:30 PM »
There are a lot of decent Windows laptops around $250.  Since he doesn't take care of it well, I would not spend much money.   Most people buy way more laptop than they need, but if you want one similar to what he currently has, I would just buy him the least expensive one.  It will still last 3 years, easily.

Since it is in a kitchen, you might think about putting it on a wire shelf that raises it off the surface enough to slide a wireless keyboard under.  It will keep the laptop dry, and he will be using a cheaper keyboard.  It's easier to clean a wireless keyboard than the one on the laptop (in my experience), and it'll keep more dust, grease, and moisture out of the laptop.  If need be you could always replace the keyboard if he ruins it, without doing any damage to the laptop.  Same with a wireless mouse.  You can buy them together off Amazon for low cost.

jeromedawg

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2016, 04:46:19 PM »
"because he uses one of those writing pads (which has proprietary software that only runs in Windows)"

If it is proprietary and only runs on windows it will probably not work that well elsewhere without some effort and technical knowledge. I do know that google has some writeable language input options but do not have fist-hand knowledge of how well these tools work. One alternative that may be better for the computer and him is using voice to text so he does not get the computer dirty with his hands while in the kitchen. Google's voice to text is very good and continues to improve.

If you want to try the input options that google can run on a chromebook go here: https://www.google.com/inputtools/try/

I am a strong advocate of chromebooks for most people for the reasons mentioned earlier in this thread. Based on what you have mentioned though, it may be best for you to just get him a laptop similar to the one he currently has so there is no learning barrier (though sometimes a new challenge is good).

The laptop is actually in the back office, it's just that he doesn't wash his hands after being in the kitchen and gets the laptop filthy. I can't imagine what the screen will look on a brand new touchscreen after a week of him handling it but it is what it is. We just have to clean it every time we visit, which isn't often. My wife has repeatedly told him to wash his hands before he uses it and to wipe it down but he never listens. I was a bit surprised though with the new phone we got him a month or so ago. So far, it seems pretty clean the last time I looked at it about a week ago. He's only had it for about a month and a half though. I agree that new challenges are good, but my in-laws are probably the most challenged people ever. No matter how many times my wife has shown my FIL how to drag and drop pictures over to the computer, he can still barely figure out how to do it.

There are a lot of decent Windows laptops around $250.  Since he doesn't take care of it well, I would not spend much money.   Most people buy way more laptop than they need, but if you want one similar to what he currently has, I would just buy him the least expensive one.  It will still last 3 years, easily.

Since it is in a kitchen, you might think about putting it on a wire shelf that raises it off the surface enough to slide a wireless keyboard under.  It will keep the laptop dry, and he will be using a cheaper keyboard.  It's easier to clean a wireless keyboard than the one on the laptop (in my experience), and it'll keep more dust, grease, and moisture out of the laptop.  If need be you could always replace the keyboard if he ruins it, without doing any damage to the laptop.  Same with a wireless mouse.  You can buy them together off Amazon for low cost.

Yea, I'm hoping not to spend so much but touchscreens tend to be pricier. And it seems a lot of laptops these days are touchscreen. I think it would be nice to have him try out so that we don't have to deal with that awful writing pad. We'll see.... we bought him a wireless mouse for it but he never uses it (I think he may have lost it). Partly because he has gotten so used to the touchpad but also because there's not a lot of room to use a mouse on his desk.

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2016, 07:09:41 PM »
Same advice here as I gave in another laptop thread about three days ago:

Buy a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T series (430/530 is the sweet spot feature/price wise currently), or Dell Latitude E series (The E5430/6430 models are the sweet spots here). US Micro has a good refurbish program, good prices, and decent warranty. Following these recommendations, you shouldn't have to spend more than $200-300 for a solid laptop built like a tank and easy to repair/upgrade.

Don't get too lost in processor speeds. Pretty much any 2-4 core i3/i5 will be plenty for most anyone. The biggest changes hasn't been so much processing speed as power consumption and battery life for some time now. There's some screaming multi-core processors out there, but they're not worth the premium given that all but specialty high-end applications and games don't need them to run. Even Windows 10 doesn't have much beefier system requirements (beyond RAM/graphics) than XP SP3 and Win7. Don't sweat it, and care more about how much RAM the thing has... that'll be the biggest performance booster. Aim for 4-8GB.

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2016, 07:54:51 PM »
used Panasonic Toughbook - seems pretty rugged. I see them in alot of police cars. Try browsing ebay

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2016, 09:17:59 PM »
Same advice here as I gave in another laptop thread about three days ago:

Buy a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T series (430/530 is the sweet spot feature/price wise currently), or Dell Latitude E series (The E5430/6430 models are the sweet spots here). US Micro has a good refurbish program, good prices, and decent warranty. Following these recommendations, you shouldn't have to spend more than $200-300 for a solid laptop built like a tank and easy to repair/upgrade.

Don't get too lost in processor speeds. Pretty much any 2-4 core i3/i5 will be plenty for most anyone. The biggest changes hasn't been so much processing speed as power consumption and battery life for some time now. There's some screaming multi-core processors out there, but they're not worth the premium given that all but specialty high-end applications and games don't need them to run. Even Windows 10 doesn't have much beefier system requirements (beyond RAM/graphics) than XP SP3 and Win7. Don't sweat it, and care more about how much RAM the thing has... that'll be the biggest performance booster. Aim for 4-8GB.

Think I might look at this for my wife! Thanks, tried to get her on the Chromebook train but she has to have iTunes...sorry to go off topic

arebelspy

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2016, 01:35:16 AM »
Since you have Windows only needs (the tablet), IP's advice is solid!
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jeromedawg

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2016, 10:16:49 AM »
Same advice here as I gave in another laptop thread about three days ago:

Buy a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T series (430/530 is the sweet spot feature/price wise currently), or Dell Latitude E series (The E5430/6430 models are the sweet spots here). US Micro has a good refurbish program, good prices, and decent warranty. Following these recommendations, you shouldn't have to spend more than $200-300 for a solid laptop built like a tank and easy to repair/upgrade.

Don't get too lost in processor speeds. Pretty much any 2-4 core i3/i5 will be plenty for most anyone. The biggest changes hasn't been so much processing speed as power consumption and battery life for some time now. There's some screaming multi-core processors out there, but they're not worth the premium given that all but specialty high-end applications and games don't need them to run. Even Windows 10 doesn't have much beefier system requirements (beyond RAM/graphics) than XP SP3 and Win7. Don't sweat it, and care more about how much RAM the thing has... that'll be the biggest performance booster. Aim for 4-8GB.

Thanks! What are your thoughts on the Lenovo Flex or Edge devices? Thinking about it more, it would be nice just to get him a laptop w/ touchscreen so he doesn't have to deal with that awful writing pad. The trade-off, of course, is that he'll probably get the screen all greasy and dirty if not scratched up.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 10:34:04 AM by jplee3 »

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2016, 10:54:30 AM »
Thanks! What are your thoughts on the Lenovo Flex devices? Thinking about it more, it would be nice just to get him a laptop w/ touchscreen so he doesn't have to deal with that awful writing pad. The trade-off, of course, is that he'll probably get the screen all greasy and dirty if not scratched up.

Environmental and abuse factors must be considered. If he's hard on electronics and his hands are filthy, the fewer the moving parts and the better it is that he minimizes contact with the screen. Full stop.

Forget the current annoying writing pad and forget a touchscreen. Your solution is already present - the built in touchpad. Not tried personally so I can't verify 100% success, and I can't guineapig as I'm a *nix only household, but there you go.

If you want an external input device, you also might consider ditching the proprietary writing pad for a used, lower end Wacom USB tablet with stylus, which absolutely positively will work with Ink without much setup trauma, and you don't have to worry about ruining or cleaning the screen using it.

jeromedawg

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2016, 11:44:10 AM »
Thanks! What are your thoughts on the Lenovo Flex devices? Thinking about it more, it would be nice just to get him a laptop w/ touchscreen so he doesn't have to deal with that awful writing pad. The trade-off, of course, is that he'll probably get the screen all greasy and dirty if not scratched up.

Environmental and abuse factors must be considered. If he's hard on electronics and his hands are filthy, the fewer the moving parts and the better it is that he minimizes contact with the screen. Full stop.

Forget the current annoying writing pad and forget a touchscreen. Your solution is already present - the built in touchpad. Not tried personally so I can't verify 100% success, and I can't guineapig as I'm a *nix only household, but there you go.

If you want an external input device, you also might consider ditching the proprietary writing pad for a used, lower end Wacom USB tablet with stylus, which absolutely positively will work with Ink without much setup trauma, and you don't have to worry about ruining or cleaning the screen using it.

Nice... will have to look into that then. I think he's so used to writing with a stylus but maybe if he knows he doesn't need it and can use the touchpad, it'll be enough. And perhaps there are styluses out there (rubber tipped) that will allow for such use of the touchpad more efficiently.

That said, are there other reliable sources by which to get the T430 or T530 besides that one you linked? It seems these might be tougher to find since they are an older model, even on Lenovo's refurbished/outlet site. Perhaps Ebay?


EDIT: looks like some sellers like on Amazon at least are selling refurbished units that come with 12-18 month warranties. I've found some T430s at least. T530 refurbs definitely are harder to come by at least on Amazon. If I buy with Amex and possibly Visa too, I think the warranty will be doubled since refurbs are not excluded. I think I may want the T530 though because he's already using a 15" laptop, so going any smaller might be a little tough.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 12:10:54 PM by jplee3 »

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2016, 12:17:29 PM »
How about an older surface pro 3 tablet with keyboard?  I've never used one, but I would think it would have everything he needs.

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2016, 12:31:28 PM »
Another recommendation for Chromebook. We just got one for my 80-year-old mother. Worst part was getting it to "talk" to the printer. Otherwise she loves it. We knew she couldn't deal with Windows 10.

jeromedawg

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2016, 01:46:44 PM »
Thanks! What are your thoughts on the Lenovo Flex devices? Thinking about it more, it would be nice just to get him a laptop w/ touchscreen so he doesn't have to deal with that awful writing pad. The trade-off, of course, is that he'll probably get the screen all greasy and dirty if not scratched up.

Environmental and abuse factors must be considered. If he's hard on electronics and his hands are filthy, the fewer the moving parts and the better it is that he minimizes contact with the screen. Full stop.

Forget the current annoying writing pad and forget a touchscreen. Your solution is already present - the built in touchpad. Not tried personally so I can't verify 100% success, and I can't guineapig as I'm a *nix only household, but there you go.

If you want an external input device, you also might consider ditching the proprietary writing pad for a used, lower end Wacom USB tablet with stylus, which absolutely positively will work with Ink without much setup trauma, and you don't have to worry about ruining or cleaning the screen using it.

There is a current black Friday deal through Lenovo corporate perks where you can get a T560 starting at $539. Probably overkill for my file but certainly tempting for myself!

Metric Mouse

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2016, 03:26:49 PM »
Thanks! What are your thoughts on the Lenovo Flex devices? Thinking about it more, it would be nice just to get him a laptop w/ touchscreen so he doesn't have to deal with that awful writing pad. The trade-off, of course, is that he'll probably get the screen all greasy and dirty if not scratched up.

Environmental and abuse factors must be considered. If he's hard on electronics and his hands are filthy, the fewer the moving parts and the better it is that he minimizes contact with the screen. Full stop.

Forget the current annoying writing pad and forget a touchscreen. Your solution is already present - the built in touchpad. Not tried personally so I can't verify 100% success, and I can't guineapig as I'm a *nix only household, but there you go.

If you want an external input device, you also might consider ditching the proprietary writing pad for a used, lower end Wacom USB tablet with stylus, which absolutely positively will work with Ink without much setup trauma, and you don't have to worry about ruining or cleaning the screen using it.

There is a current black Friday deal through Lenovo corporate perks where you can get a T560 starting at $539. Probably overkill for my file but certainly tempting for myself!
could you update and hand off your current device?

Would be an expensive christmas gift, but then you'd be able to set up your Fil with a system youre familiar with.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 06:47:05 PM by Metric Mouse »

jeromedawg

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2016, 05:24:16 PM »
Thanks! What are your thoughts on the Lenovo Flex devices? Thinking about it more, it would be nice just to get him a laptop w/ touchscreen so he doesn't have to deal with that awful writing pad. The trade-off, of course, is that he'll probably get the screen all greasy and dirty if not scratched up.

Environmental and abuse factors must be considered. If he's hard on electronics and his hands are filthy, the fewer the moving parts and the better it is that he minimizes contact with the screen. Full stop.

Forget the current annoying writing pad and forget a touchscreen. Your solution is already present - the built in touchpad. Not tried personally so I can't verify 100% success, and I can't guineapig as I'm a *nix only household, but there you go.

If you want an external input device, you also might consider ditching the proprietary writing pad for a used, lower end Wacom USB tablet with stylus, which absolutely positively will work with Ink without much setup trauma, and you don't have to worry about ruining or cleaning the screen using it.

There is a current black Friday deal through Lenovo corporate perks where you can get a T560 starting at $539. Probably overkill for my file but certainly tempting for myself!
could you uodate and hand off your current device?

Would be an expensive christmas gift, but then you'd be able to set up your Fil with a system youre familiar with.

In the back of my mind I was thinking that... problem is that I'm on a Macbook Air. I think it would be too huge of a change for him. Not to mention, I'd probably feel even more disgusted at how greasy and disgusting it would be after several months of being at the restaurant haha. Even with getting a Windows laptop w/ Windows 10 on it, I'm a bit apprehensive...

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Re: Best laptop for non-techy people :)
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2016, 03:27:06 PM »
To the extent that he uses a keyboard, see if you can get a keyboard cover (something like http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/271643228855?lpid=82&chn=ps&ul_noapp=true, just make sure it's the right fit for the keyboard). It will keep grease from getting in under the keys, and it's easy to take off and wash periodically.

And there are definitely rubber tipped styluses that are designed to work with touchscreens (something like http://www.staples.com/Insten-Universal-Stylus-With-Clip-For-iPhone-iPad/product_SS2645919). If what you get him has a touchscreen component, encourage him to keep using a stylus so he won't get as much grease on the touchscreen.