What’s the Best Laptop for an OAP? Not What You’d Expect

Yesterday I went to take my mother to buy a new laptop in Nottingham. I’d read the reviews, I’d browsed the stores. And I thought I’d nailed it – either the 14″ Chromebook or a 15.6″ entry level laptop. How wrong I was, and it took only 15 minutes in PC World to figure it out.

I’d made two fatal mistakes collecting requirements for the OAP laptop – I’d missed one, and assumed another:

  1. My mum doesn’t need an actual laptop. It stays still on a desk. She just had a laptop as I’d bought her one from the US in my hand luggage – easier than bringing in a tower.
  2. It needs an SD card reader for her camera. Now I know that I have a USB to SD card attachment that I could have given her. That’s just one extra thing to lose or break though, so I didn’t want to go this route.

So what laptop did we decide on for my mum?

The Chromebooks were all too small. Good value. Budget level Celeron processors. But too small, and the HP Chromebook 14-x000na (NVIDIA Tegra K1, 2 GB RAM, Chrome OS) didn’t have an SD card reader. Despite me so wanting to get a simple computer, they just didn’t fit.

The laptops were in the running – but we got scared off by the sales associate at Curry’s who told us the Celeron would be underpowered in the medium term. So we upped our budget a bit and passed on the amazingly good value Lenovo G50-30 – a brand we like.

We ended up with an all-in-one – primarily as it had speakers and microphones and a webcam and a 19.5″ screen. It was also much more powerful, sporting a Pentium or four (or two as the label in store claimed). It’s easy to see. Not too big to fit in an alcove. It has a full sized keyboard and mouse, and it’s been a general pleasure to set up. It was £320 in store versus the £230 laptops, but then again, hopefully with additional processing oomph it will last longer and with a bigger screen it will survive the varifocal glasses for longer too.

The moral of the story is not to assume too much, and to get in a store and play with the boxes. Also, screen size wins. I’d like to think that Amazon was cheaper, but in this case it was the same price for the same model (maybe £10 cheaper if we’d got the black version rather than the white version they carry in the shops). That said, Amazon certainly has more options in the all-in-one category, and you can find some different configurations.

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