Buying a computer for my parents

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by u6crash, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. u6crash macrumors member


    Jan 29, 2007
    DeKalb, IL
    Hey, folks. I hope this isn't too "on topic" for community discussion. I wasn't sure where else to throw it.

    This is something I've been thinking about for quite a while. My parents are still using a G4 Quicksilver Mac that I bought new 10 years ago. In that time I have replaced the hard drive and SuperDrive and upgraded the OS a handful of times. The SuperDrive is dead again, the hard drive is tired, and rather than throw money at this aging system, I would really like to get them a brand new computer.

    Some of my thoughts:

    Mac Mini: Can't remember what kind of display connector is on their 19" tube monitor, but aside from that, they have everything needed to make this work. They would be familiar enough with the OS and I can transfer everything they have with Migration Assistant. The biggest downside I see is the integrated graphics on the low end. Probably not even an issue for them. Would hate to see a spec refresh come a month after I bought them one.

    The new iPad: Tempting, but I'm not sure how they would take to it. I've never used one, so I wouldn't be able to answer questions like "How to do I get this document from the old computer to the iPad." I'm sure I can figure it out, but I don't live with them and don't want to be on the phone troubleshooting these kinds of things when I won't know every answer. This would be kind of nice because they could keep the old computer going and someone else could use the iPad when the computer is in use. Still, I'd like to just get rid of the G4 before it dies. Not sure how quick they would be to adopt the new interface/OS.

    iMac: Big concern is cost. That's not to say they aren't worth it, but I have modest means here and I'm tentatively looking at buying a house this summer. Same with the iPad, in this situation they are likely to keep the old one around as a second backup compupter for a 2011 model from the refurbished store, I'd still hate to see a spec refresh soon after when most signs point to this happening soon.

    Windows Laptop/Desktop: Ugh. I'm pretty proud to have converted my parents and my sister to Mac users. It wasn't easy and I hate to take a step back just because it's more affordable. I'm a fairly tech savvy individual, but haven't used Windows regularly in about a decade. Again, don't want to be doing tech support on the phone or making regular house calls.

    Yeah, after typing this out, I think I'm leaning towards the Mini. I wish my crystal ball could tell me if a refresh were right around the corner, but it may not matter if I'm shopping the refurbished ones.
  2. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Their 19" tube monitor is most likely VGA, and you can buy an adapter to hook that up to the Mini's Mini DisplayPort

    Or since LCDs are dirt cheap now, you can do them a favor and get them an LCD display to go along with the new Mini. Probably will still need a MiniDP-DVI adapter though, I'm not sure if it's included with the Mini or not.
  3. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010
    Is this for mom/dad/both? I'm assuming standard use?

    I would think a refurbished 21" iMac would be great since it'll work for a long time (maybe not 10 years!) but it is easier, less connections to deal with when moving/rearranging/etc.

    Buying a brand new computer for them might be pointless if they don't use it for anything requiring specs more than those from 10 years ago.
  4. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    I would consider A) a refurbished 21" iMac - great value. or 2) A Mac Mini with a low resolution monitor. I say low resolution because depending on their age, and I am assuming they are over 50, presbyopia sets in - the inability to focus closely. As such high res screens with tiny fonts can be a nightmare. I know since I am one of these people and can't use a high res 15", or 17" and I had to sell my first Mac, a 2009 27". Every web page I visit, or tab I open, I need to hit the 'A' in Safari to make the fonts readable and I wear glasses. This is something you need to seriously consider - the best way is to ask them or show them low res screens. It is one thing to read with glasses for a short time, but it is entirely different to spend time in front of one of these. My 26" external monitor is 1920 x 1200 (about 86 ppi) and is so easy on my eyes.
  5. u6crash thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 29, 2007
    DeKalb, IL
    Yeah, I've considered buying an LCD as part of a Mac Mini upgrade. I can't believe the G4 has lasted this long. They do Facebook, watch YouTube videos, write and print from Word, and play a handful of simple games.

    I previously handed down my 2006 MacBook to them which my dad used primarily when my mom was on the other. He fried the battery in short order keeping it plugged in all the time. He said unplugged the battery wouldn't last long. I bought a new battery for it and he fried that one too.

    That's a good point about an iMac lasting longer and that's something I've considered, too. Unfortunately, whichever route I go, they'll have to upgrade Word or get Pages. The version they use now relies on Rosetta to run. Maybe I'll try to hold out a few more weeks for an iMac update and see if the 2011 iMacs drop in price again.
  6. jim4spam macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2009
    I went for a 21" iMac (refurb is a great idea if poss) as I really wanted the all-in-one convenience for them. I got a cabled keyboard (one less thing to go wrong - no batteries and no pairing).

    But then my parents are technically challenged and we're in a different country from them. That said, doing the remote support (we just screen share with iChat) is easy and effective. I decided against and iPad as I knew they would drop it/stand on it/spill tea on it/not be able to work the touchscreen especially for web based forms.

    my preference was decided by my parents ability - they don't NEED a newer computer and the power is wasted, but then a cheaper PC with more long distance maintenance hassles made it better to get a more expensive machine that they will use, rather than a cheaper machine that falls out of use.

    Hope it helps!
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I bought my parents a refurb iMac (it was an awesome deal!) and my sister a Macbook Pro (aluminum one) and it was the BEST investment in time I ever made!

    That was the day the computer questions and issues ceased to exist and I couldn't be happier :)
  8. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I'd go with a refurb. 21" iMac? Some great deals out there and the Apple store refurbs really are as good as new!
  9. diamond3 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    You could also look into the used market. Keep your eyes open for the next month or so. If you don't see any great deals, maybe then the new minis or iMacs will be updated.

    Mini vs iMac: for your parents benefit, the only reason for an iMac would be if they would use it to video chat with the built in isight or space saving. I doubt they need a dedicated graphics card.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Yeah, after typing this out, I think I'm leaning towards the Mini. I wish my crystal ball could tell me if a refresh were right around the corner, but it may not matter if I'm shopping the refurbished ones."

    While not exactly "right around the corner", it looks like the Mini will get an update this summer - strictly a guess on my part. Apple will revamp the MacBookPro and perhaps the iMac beforehand.

    Apple refurbs seem to be a good choice with Mini models. But they sell quickly, you have to keep your eyes open for when they come in!

    Someone mentioned getting an LCD display to update that part of the setup, as well. If you decide to do this, BE CAREFUL about the resolution on whatever monitor you buy for them. Older folks have problems trying to make out the small text on monitors with higher resolutions. You might even consider getting them one of the 27" panels out there that have 1920 x 1080. This is considered "low-rez" for a panel of that size, but what it means in practical terms is that the pixel size is "larger". It may look overly grainy to the younger folks, but if you're older or your eyes are aging, the larger pixels are just "what you're looking for".

    Before you buy them either of the iMacs that are in current production, take them to a place where those iMacs are on display, and see if they're comfortable with the display resolutions. They may find that text displayed on the 21" is "too small" to read (without artificially "increasing" the pixel size by using a lower-than-native resolution).
  11. Herdfan macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2011
    I would go with a refurb mid-2010 Mini. Yes, it is a Core Duo, but that is enough power to do what they are using it for. Plus it comes with a built-in optical drive. Take the money you save and buy them a nice widescreen monitor.
  12. sarcosis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2006
    These United States
    It doesn't seem like they do much and if they are familiar with OS X, then the combo of a New LCD (You can get a 20 inch for about 100 on a decent deal) and a Mac Mini is great idea. The Mini will have enough horsepower to get them by for a good long time. Another thing to think of is the new iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard. Get pages for iPad and it should do about 99% of what they need to do by the sounds of it.
  13. jterp7 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    if you're willing to do some searching best buy open box can be considerably less than official apple refurbs. Still before you do any of that, take them with you to BB or an apple store to see which one's they like themselves, then go from there.
  14. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    For less serious cases, I found 1920 x 1200 at 27.5" for £212. Very nice with a Mac Mini. Alternatively for seriously bad eyes, 27" iMac and switch to half the native resolution, that would be 1280 x 720.
  15. tytanic11 macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2007
    Reading, PA
    I got my parents a Mac Mini and a Dell LCD and it works out well for them.. if they're using a G4 now, the mini will be plenty powerful for what they need for years to come

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