looking for inexpensive computer for aunt

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by furcalchick, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. furcalchick macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    my aunt desires a new computer, and isn't willing to spend alot of money (around 500 bucks is the spending limit). my aunt's computer has been busted for quite a while, and she doesn't need any special programs, expect perhaps a word processing program, so her computer usage isn't going to be much. simple, right? no.

    with windows vista now out, programs won't work with this os, and all of the cheap computers come with the ultra pathetic home basic, which isn't worth much. so the challenge was to see if there are any decent pc's under 500 bucks that have vista home preinum or windows xp on them, as she seems okay with windows, but home basic would be the worst. on initial look, there are none...

    combined with the total disaster that vista is, i thought that it was time to consider for her a mac. since the budget is pretty tight, i went to the refurb store, and found her one for 480 (it's the lowest end one: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wa/RSLID?nplm=FA205LL/A). she already has a monitor and keyboard and mouse, so that is not a problem.

    i'm also wondering if 512 mb ram would be good enough for her basic usage if she got the mac, as i heard anything under 1 gb would be a slowdown.

    she's been using windows all her life however, and if i got her the mac mini, it would be her first mac. but my mom (her sister) is still mac-phobic, even after i bought my macbook two months ago after refusing to buy a mac for months, which ended up me buying it with my own money. so she's shooting me down for even considering a mac, thinking of them as all ultra high computers. i'm not trying to make my aunt a switcher, but at least give the mac mini a look.
  2. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    I bought my mom a G4 mini for Christmas this year to replace her next-to-dead PC. She'd never used a mac before, but she loves it. She found her way around the OS pretty quickly, and when a couple of days later I offered to have a pow-wow tutorial session with her, she said she didn't need it (that's how easy it was!).

    I'd think the mini would be a great option for light-computer use.
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    The mini would definitely be a good machine for your aunt, though the RAM should be upped to 1GB unless all software she uses is available in Universal Binary, then 512mb may suffice. However, since your aunt does not sound like the kind of person whom would desire to upgrade her computer every year 1GB of RAM would give the computer a longer usable lifespan.

    If she is dead set on a PC the only way you could reasonably get one for near $500 would be to build it with components from newegg.com.

    Here is the system components I am looking at to build for my friends mom, since she does not want a Mac:( .
    -Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16819103733)
    -Foxconn motherboard with GeForce 6100 video (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16813186105)
    -160GB Hard Drive (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16822144415)
    -Dual Layer DVD Burner with Lightscribe (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16827151136)
    -Case w/Power Supply (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16811156135)
    -1GB RAM 675MHz DDR2, Case Latency 4 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16820145539)
    -Memory Card Reader (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16820106002)
    -Windows Vista Home Premium OEM 32bit (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16832116202)

    $510.94 +Shipping and any applicable tax

    This is about rock bottom for a new PC's price just about any cheaper component would result in major performance decreases. i.e. 512 RAM, Single Core Processor (Vista really needs a Dual Core CPU and 1GB RAM to feel like an XP machine using a single core CPU and 512MB RAM.)

    If she could use firewire then I would suggest using this motherboard and case.
    -Gigabyte Motherboard (http://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/Shopping/ShoppingItem.asp?ItemList=N82E16813128029)
    -Rosewill Case looks nicer and has a front firewire port. (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811147001)

    About $30 extra
  4. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
    An iMac G4 or a Power Mac G4 would be great. New? (Refurbed) Yeah, Mini.
  5. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    1Gb for Intel definitely. An incomplete Mac experience not good. You'll have to budget for iWork too of course but I have no idea how much that is in the States.

    Apart from that, fact is most people who don't quite know what they're doing on computers are far better off with Macs. Take this opportunity to switch her.

    If she protests, tell her the Dell Guy said 'buy a Mac' ;)
  6. furcalchick thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    this is the computer that my mom is looking at for her: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5533608

    of course, she said after i recommended the mac mini "nobody wants no expensive macs" even though i told her the mini was the same price, assuming she had a monitor and keyboard and mouse already.

    doesn't look like they are open to ideas. i'm going to compare this to the mini and come back to this. meanwhile, vista will still have cancel or allow and all of the rest. sigh.
  7. SteveG4Cube macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2002
    MontCo., PA
    Why not just get the Mini and install Boot Camp and put XP on it. That way, she can still have Windows and gradually boot into OSX and get comfortable with it. Worst case, she decides it's not worth switching and just stays in XP. She still has a solid machine for a great price. As for the 512mb, it's plenty for what she wants to use a computer for (in XP and OSX).
  8. furcalchick thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida

    maybe she doesn't have a mouse, keyboard or monitor...at least that is what my mom says. it could be either that they don't want me to push the mac mini on her or maybe she doesn't have one.

    if that is true, it's going to be alot harder to have the mac mini as an option.

    i won't be sad if she goes vista...but i want her to at least see the mac mini as a viable option instead of expensive mac things.
  9. Coca-Cola macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2002
    Wow, it sounds like my family.
  10. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    NO ...... But she might :eek: :eek: :eek:

  11. volvoben macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2007
    nowhere fast
    To be fair, let me first say that your aunt would probably be fine with vista. Really, it's no worse than XP, which is perfectly adequate for at least 50% of the computer-using world. She doesn't need vista ultimate, or even home premium, unless she plans on using it as a media center. You can even make vista look bland and gray just like she's used to. But that said....

    She is unlikely to have any trouble adjusting to OS X, and is probably likely to prefer it after a short time. Assure her that she can use Word or whatever other basic programs she used before, and that the gap between windows/mac is quite easy to overcome these days.

    The hard part is getting past the price. My family gave simple reasons for switching to windows many years ago, and I really can't disagree in their case:

    1. the mac OS may be better, but we can get by fine with windows, so why pay for something we don't need?

    2. not only is windows cheaper, but it's compatible with everything our jobs or schools might need us to do.

    3. it requires more maintenance, but that's why our son comes home every few months, isn't it?

    and with intel macs,

    4. OK, super, we can run windows on the mac if we need to...so why are we paying another $150 for vista business OEM plus parallels just so we can have the compatibility we could have had with a $450 dell?

    In these situations, I wish apple made a cheaper alternative (perhaps an larger upright mini-looking job with a low conroe, cheap 3.5" HDD, integrated video and other low end but quality desktop components), but the problem with software-hardware integration is that you really can't make a machine that can't handle your OS competently and stand a chance at lasting ~5 years before losing support. Overall this is more a blessing than a curse, but it makes it hard to sell Apple to the average non-rich non-superuser. I think apple could make a machine as capable as the mini for about 20% less if they designed an attractive but cheap to produce case and used available desktop components. A headless $500 (new, not refurb etc) computer should really exist for basic users and families on tight budgets.

    And as a final weapon if things need to get dirty, you can point out that eMachines rank very low in consumer report's list of computer hardware reliability. i haven't seen one of these lists for a while, but eMachines are not known for their quality.
  12. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    The only problem I can see with that e-machine is that it has 512mb of RAM. For XP 512mb works great for most everyday uses but having tried a clean install of Vista on a machine with 512mb is painful, to say the. I tried running Word, Firefox and iTunes concurrently and the computer tanked.

    Launch time for all three programs was over two minutes and the computer page filed constantly. Just doing alt+tab between programs took 20-30 seconds as the programs had to be paged into and out of memory. If she goes with something like that e-machine Vista needs 1GB of RAM, 512MB for Vista to run and 512mb for software.

    Basically a Vista machine with 512 RAM is like an XP machine with 128. I wouldn't want to imagine a Vista computer with 512 RAM once you had anti-virus program running, start-up processes for peripherals, downloaded spyware, and start-up processes for commercial software installed.

    Here are some dell (shudder) refurbs, with Vista and 1GB RAM. You can then get the monitor separately through newegg.com cheaper than a dell refurb LCD.
  13. furcalchick thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    hmm...looks like dell has some good xp computers. i'm going to see if that's okay, as the mac mini is outside of her budget and isn't really desiring a mac.
  14. snowmoon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2005
    Albany, NY
    1) You can't force the OSX experience on people... they want it or they dont.

    2) Any difference in cost, for myself, was easly payed back in productivity dividends.

    But if she doesn't want it, she doesn't want it. It's just not something you are going to convince her otherwise on. If she had time to warm up to the mac with a loaner she would probably like them. It's a hard to swallow the upfront costs of OSX switching when barraged with flyers for $200 PC's "fully loaded" ( with a mess of spyware and incompatible software if you ask me ... but that's another story ).
  15. eRondeau macrumors 65816


    Mar 3, 2004
    Canada's South Coast
    Think long-term...

    I was recently in a similar position, "consulting" for a couple of seniors who wanted to get new computers (two separate people; they didn't know each other.) In both cases I recommended the cheapest 17" iMac available for $999 Canadian. They both bought one. True, I had to spend a couple of evenings with each of them showing them how to use it, but then they just sort of disappeared. No more questions about viruses, worms, spyware, etc. It just works.

    So dude, look at the long-term investment you'll be making here. Get your aunt Vista (or XP) and I guarantee you'll be on her speed-dial button as everything starts to f*ck up the moment you leave. Get her a Mac and live your own life.

    BTW, don't rule-out a 3-5 year old used Mac. I know another senior citizen who uses a 2001-ish iMac CRT w/ 13GB HD running 10.3.9 (currently worth about $200) and he just loves it! It is way more computer than he'll ever need.

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