General Question

Mtl_zack's avatar

A simple computer?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6751points) May 20th, 2008

my great aunt recently discovered the internet and its capabilities, but shes 98 years old and she understands the basics of computers, but she doesnt have one herself. what is a very cheap very simple computer that i can get for a very low price, prefereably something new? would it be cheaper to build a computer with a used cpu with a new 30gb hard drive and 2 gigs of ram (sorta like get someone to make a computer)? also, whats a good simple and cheap internet service provider?

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11 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Not a direct answer to your question, but what I would recommend for simplicity’s sake is setting up her desktop as bare bones as you can go. Give her an e-mail client, a web browser (firefox preferably), a video player (maybe vlc), a photo viewer (irfanview is good and simple, but someone else may have a better idea), a word processor, and anything else that she specifically requests and that’s it. Get rid all of all the other crapware. Fire up the security settings, give her large font on everything (if she needs it) and set up her e-mail to connect with the client (maybe via a gmail account).

Netzero, PeoplePC and your local ISPs are likely to be the cheapest, but you’ll have to go PC instead of Mac for Netzero and PeoplePC’s cheap plans.

paulc's avatar

A lot of people are getting behind these EeePCs by Asus. They don’t have a lot of storage but apparently they do the trick quite well. Here’s a search on for pricing. You could likely build one for less but I know my grandmother would probably rather have an all-in-one unit.

In Canada, your best bet for cheap internet is, unfortunately, dialup. Not sure about Montréal but here in Edmonton your choices are Telus, Shaw and Bell (with some providers that resell their services) who offer high-speed cable or DSL for an average of $45/mo.

squirbel's avatar

I’d suggest buying low-end new parts from You could assemble an entire computer for 200 dollars or less -sans monitor. Monitors are an easy find – people give away CRTs on craigslist in your local area.

chaosrob's avatar

Low end iMac, especially the refurbs from Apple’s “special deals” page. Simple, good support and reliable.

PupnTaco's avatar

Another vote for the iMac. Set up shortcuts on the Desktop, use Simple Finder, lock the Dock and System Prefs.

Are you available for tech support if she needs it?

xyzzy's avatar

The only downside to the EeePc is the size of the screen. it’s small, and only 800×480, which may be a problem for an old person (how good is her sight?). I would recommend getting a used notebook instead. The same $300 should get you a nice machine with a bigger screen. The only other criteria in a notebook is at least 512MB of ram, anything less will be painful.

I’d also strongly suggest Unbuntu Linux for the added security (for hackers and from the user screwing things up), and UltraVNC so you can remote in and fix anything that breaks.

waterskier2007's avatar

vote here for the iMac. I have two at my house and even my mom who is computer illiterate (but actually got better since we got it) can use it

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pcdoctorwestchester's avatar

You can reuse an old machine (HP or Dell ) and reformat it for her with a Linux operating system like Linux Mint 32 bit so that she won’t get infected.

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