Get a new eMac or try to fix current one?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Adamantya, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. Adamantya macrumors newbie


    Sep 17, 2015

    My 77-year-old mother has been using and eMac since 2006. She doesn't like it when things change on her (like the advent of the dashboard, and the full version of Gmail - the one with themes, not basic html), so she's only ever updated operating systems and versions of software when absolutely necessary. Right now the eMac is running OS X 10.4.11. I'm not super tech-savvy, so here is the other "About This Mac" info, in case it's useful: 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4; 768 MB DDR SDRAM.

    The computer has been slow for a few years, but we've recently run into problems because software can't update because new versions don't support her current OS, and I think she can't update the OS because newer versions won't run on her hardware. So she's using Firefox 3.6.28, and Gmail keeps prompting her to update it, and recently some other websites have just stopped working ( shows up and then goes blank 5 seconds later; I know the problem isn't the website because it works fine on my laptop). Sometimes the keyboard (macally - original keyboard long gone) doesn't work, and sometimes the printer (hp Laserjet 1012) doesn't. I do the usual: restart computer; shut down computer and unplug everything and then replug and turn back on, etc. Sometimes that works, somtimes not.

    So my question is: is there a way to make the computer run better (maybe burn all files to CD or copy to USB, then delete from hard drive so it's not so full, then do the Mac equivalent of defragment, if that exists?), or should we try to acquire another eMac? I'd like to avoid a newer/different computer, if possible, because it'd her take a long time to get used to all the differences. The main things my mum uses the computer for are internet (just Gmail and news sites) and word processing (AppleWorks 6).

    If getting a new eMac is the best option, where in Canada (ideally Quebec) is the best place to get one?

    Thank you for any suggestions.
  2. c8rlo macrumors 6502


    Sep 1, 2015
    both the RAM and HD are upgradeable and relatively cheap, to give you an idea; here in the US both will cost under $20 for each.

    RAM: standard 256mb to 2GB
    HD: standard 80gb to 160gb

    i know you said you're in Canada, maybe check; you prob have a better chance getting them online because most stores prob don't carry what you need to upgrade because of how old the unit is.

    i would recommend transferring all her files to a disk or an external hard drive(whichever is convenient) upgrading both has the potential to extend the life of her iMac and there are instructional videos you can search on Youtube on how to change out both.
  3. brucewayne macrumors member

    Nov 8, 2005
    You've got a few things working against you.

    Since you said you aren't tech savvy, I'll go into detail. Apple switched from Power-PC to Intel processors in 2006 and this change in architecture meant all new code for the operating system. There was an effort on Apple's part to support both architectures, but by OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) the power-pc code had stopped being developed. This meant that developers would have to create two versions of their software so there wasn't a lot of incentive to support the older architecture. So whatever is on your mother's eMac right now is probably the latest version that will ever be developed for it.

    Web standards and security measures have changed a lot in the last few years, and your web browser isn't going to be fully compatible with them. So as time goes on more and more websites will stop working because your version of FireFox will not be able to interpret the code. And as computers have become more powerful web developers are putting more and more complexity into the code, so even if your eMac could interpret the code it may not be powerful enough to actually run it.

    In theory increasing the RAM or HD space would help a bit but it won't help the fact that you are basically stuck at the OS and application level. It might make sense to put that into another computer, especially since it sounds like you have other hardware concerns like keyboard and printer not functioning.

    The e(ducation)Mac was the last PowerPC Mac sold, it was replaced by the entry level iMac. These will run you around $1000 US new, although if you should be able to find a used one for less (as long as you stay mid-2011 model or later it should be upgradeable for a long time)

    If I could make a suggestion, if your mother's main activities include Gmail and web surfing, have you considered a Chromebook? It will cost a lot less and are easy enough to use that the transition shouldn't be that difficult, and you can probably use her existing keyboard and printer. Even if you need an external monitor it would come out far less.
  4. n8mac macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2006
    Because you mentioned problems with your keyboard and printer, speed, and web browsing I wouldn't try to use the eMac any longer. It was discontinued in 2005 and will no longer be updated, and web browsing will only get worse. There is going to be some differences for you mom to get used to regardless of any new computer/device, but the one that will be most like the eMac is an entry level iMac. You can get them new or used depending on your budget. She can still use Firefox, just a newer version. Appleworks is no longer supported so that would change. Screen size will be better at either 20" or 21.5" rather than the eMacs 17" and it will be much lighter/thinner due to changing from CRT to LCD.

    I am still running a 2007 iMac with OS 10.9 that I bought used and it is running quite well. Bought it on ebay with 4GB of ram already installed so all I had to do is install the OS/apps and was good to go.
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    As other have said the powerpc chip in that old mac is not supported anymore. It sounds like any intel iMac would be a perfect replacement but if I was you I'd go with 2012 or newer for longevity.
  6. Adamantya thread starter macrumors newbie


    Sep 17, 2015
    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies. I've got a busy couple days coming up, so will take the weekend to think things through and see what is likely to be the most functional and least 'different/hard-to-learn-to-use' option. I'll probably have a few follow-up questions : )
  7. charlyham macrumors regular


    Jun 30, 2012
    Have you considered getting your Mom an iPad?
  8. Adamantya thread starter macrumors newbie


    Sep 17, 2015
    She's got one, but has this mental block about learning to use it. There's the touch screen, and scrolling up and down without a mouse, and the different... interface? (i.e. no static desktop with menu bar at the top and file folders down the side) makes her think that she can't learn to use it. It's only since her eMac has started acting up that she's been forced to explore the iPad. It's got an external keyboard, but I can't always get it to work, so sometimes she has to use the pop-up keyboard on the iPad, and that leads to a lot of typos and autocorrects, since she's been used to a different-sized keyboard for years.
    Also, I have no idea how to print from an iPad. I suppose it's possible, and I just need to Google it : ) But she prints out a lot of stuff...
  9. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    All you need to print from an iPad is a printer that supports AirPrint (there are a lot of them). Once your mom learns to print (a small learning curve, even based on your description of her), it'll be easier, not harder, to print. If it'll help, get her a Bluetooth keyboard for that iPad. She'll still lack a mouse, but she may be more comfy with a physical keyboard.

    And consider this... point-and-touch is a more direct and natural process than mousing about. Back in the day, mice were very unnatural. That's why Windows and Mac OS both included free card games - they were fun ways to learn to "drive" a mouse. Same is true for iOS/touch screen - find a game she likes, and she'll quickly learn how to use that touch screen.

    I can appreciate your predicament with your mom (my dad's 87, and just switched from Windows to Mac), but at some point, change is inevitable. It's not like her horse just died and she has to learn to drive a car. Her 2005 Ford just died, and she needs to learn to drive a 2015 Ford. There are far, far more similarities between OS X 10.4 and 10.10 than there are differences, and many of the changes can be either ignored, or settings can be changed to make things more familiar.

    In the face of change, many people zero-in on the differences and become overwhelmed. If you can help her to embrace all the similarities, the differences become far more manageable. And for the future (your mom may have a long, happy life ahead of her)... Rather than let all those changes accumulate until the dam bursts, update frequently so that the relatively few short-term changes are easier to assimilate.
  10. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I know what you're going through. My mother is 75 and we have her on a 2010 MacBook. At least she's not on windows 95! I also understand the reluctance for using an iPad. Talked to my father in law this week to see if he'd like an iPad. Nope. Wants to use a mouse, not a figure on the screen.
    I can't recommend an eMac. Just too old. I have a G5 Power Mac. It slowing down. The hardware is getting too old. Capacitors drying out etc.
    The AppleWorks is an issue. Does she use it much?
    I'd recommend getting her the same computer as you use. Then she knows you can help. You're her IT anyways, I assume. That worked for me. I'm typing this on a 2010 MacBook just like my mom's.:)

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