mac-mini for my Dad or alternatives please suggest

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by addictive, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. addictive macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    a bit of background: i switched to using a Mac a couple of years ago and have been very happy with my macbook unibody ever since. My parents are both technophobes and have no interest in technology but in their older age they are both using computers and the internet a lot of the time now (aren't we all?).

    My parents have always purchased the cheapest windows based PCs but this has forced them no end of problems with getting viruses, malware etc...

    A year ago i purchased a mac mini for my mum - although she hates computers and everything about how to use them goes in one ear and out the other i have to say the mac mini has been very stable and therefore a success. it probably does too much as she doesn't do any multi media work but i suppose that doesn't matter too much.

    Now my father is days away from buying his third computer in about the last 6 years but he always buys the cheapest available product and then wonders why it doesn't work well and breaks down easily or slows up or gets some type of virus. he uses computers for web browsing, email and a little bit of word processing as well as itunes.

    i'm keen to suggest he buys a mac mini - but the cheapest version is £649 (GBP) in the UK - he could re-use a display and then buy an apple keyboard. i think he would find he would have a more stable computer if he changed to a mac.

    My main question: is a mac mini worth it for him and is it value for money? Please let me know your thoughts and if you don't think so then please suggest alternatives.

    Finally is apple care on a mac mini worth it?
  2. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    It sounds to me like it'd be a good thing if he can learn how to use it easily (sounds like your mum didn't have any trouble, so probably not a huge problem). As long as he can afford it, he'll likely keep it a lot longer than the PC's.

    As for AppleCare, I always recommend it on the notebooks and iMacs, but I'm not as solidly convinced on the Mini. It's fairly cheap, however, so probably worth considering. If you think he'd use the phone support, definitely go for it, it's very reasonable for 3 years phone support. If not, it's a bit edgier, but hard drives and other physical components fail, and the Mac Mini isn't easy to repair (not the new models at least), so again might be well worth it. A little less solid of a recommendation from me, but still recommended.

  3. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    What would he be using the computer for? My girlfriend had the same concern with her parents and so did one of my friends with his.

    Have you considered an iPad? While its not a perfect choice in some cases it ticks the boxes for the basic stuff e.g. surfing the internet, email, youtube, games etc. and is easy enough for computer beginners. You can sync it with one of your other computers and its not going to get any viruses! :D
  4. MonkeyET macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2009
    Coachella, CA
    I would say go for it. I tried to do the same thing for my In-laws but they couldn't see the value for paying the same price they could purchase a tower, monitor, and printer at a local shopping chain. I wish I would have had the money because I would have loved to buy it for them just to show them it was worth the money.

    I tried using their new computer a few days after purchase. Needless to say, the internet "explorer" quit on me at least three times in a fifteen minute session. This was known websites with a reputable internet service. I think I may have had three browser crashes with Safari in the last 15 months.
  5. DewGuy1999 macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2009
    Maybe you could set him up with a User Account on your Mum's mini to give him a trial run?
  6. PhelpsiPhan macrumors 6502


    Dec 31, 2009
    New Jersey
    The mini should be fine. Should be able to handle it capably :)
  7. NicoleRichie macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2007
  8. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    thoughts so far

    many thanks for the useful replies and suggestions so far.

    First of all my parents are divorced and live apart so there would be no way of setting my Dad up with an account on my mum's mac-mini.

    i did think about the ipad as an option and then getting an ipad keyboard dock for when he needs to use some type of word processing software. his typing in his emails on a normal keyboard is pretty bad so i'd hate to think what it might become on a touch screen :).

    My father lives comfortably and certainly has the funds to buy whatever computer he wants but he has never seen the point in buying anything more than the cheapest product before as he has such little interest in technology but since buying the cheapest product has led him to having to replace computers often in recent years i'm now trying to persuade him of the stability and reliability of a mac.

    part of his opposition will be the price tag £649 for the cheapest mac mini in the UK is absurdly expensive when you think of its internals and product specs. He also won't use most of the fantastic Mac software available to him. But as MonkeyET says the user experience is so compelling when you switch from a Windows to a Mac and you find your browsing session is not halted by constant crashing of internet explorer.

    Is there a better (more suitable) Mac product i should be thinking about which i have not thought about? And while this is a mac forum and i'm keen for my dad to switch to a mac are there any alternatives i should at least consider. one of my dad's friends has suggested he buys a Dell laptop but i think this would only lead us back to square one in a further three years or so.

    any further help or suggestions gratefully accepted.
  9. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010

    If cheap is the compelling factor, drop an Ubuntu CD into one of his old cheap computers. The only use that you mentioned that won't be taken care of is iTunes, but there are certainly capable media players available, just no iTunes Store & support for purchased content.

    In the Mac lineup, either the Mini or the MacBook are your obvious points of entry. You might have better luck selling him on the MacBook, as you can move around with it. Mobility even within the home has a certain value.

    I bought my mother an iPad as her first computer, and it has been pretty successful. For us geeks, the new tablets are pretty cool, but for a technophobe, they may be more accessible than a traditional computer. They start up instantly, have uncluttered displays and don't overwhelm you with options. Simplicity has a cool all it's own. If you decide to go iPad, I would suggest considering the wireless bluetooth keyboard and apple case rather than the keyboard dock.
  10. janstett macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2006
    Chester, NJ
    I swithced my Mom to a Mac Mini and it was mostly good. But old people are just resistant to ANYTHING changing, whereas for most people the adjustment would take 5 minutes I never heard the end of it. I actually think she was more upset that the printing works differently and Microsoft Office is different than what she's used to.

    Better or not, old people will at most learn something ONCE and then never want it to change.

    She kept complaining she wanted a boom box in her room as her mini-system broke years ago. I spent hours loading up all her CDs on iTunes and I might as well have explained the theory of relativity to a squirrel. Never got the idea that everything was loaded up on the Mini like a jukebox. Never opened iTunes. It just didn't sink in.

    Tried the same thing about playing DVDs and watching TV on a TV tuner. I must have been speaking some arcane language.
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I switched my father to an iMac when he was 87 after he had used PCs and a TRS-80 before that for over 25 years. He adapted fine, but the reason for the switch is it made my "tech support" much easier.:)

    If your father is happy with a PC and you aren't burdened with tech support, let it be. Otherwise get the Mac mini and consider it also a gift to yourself!
  12. dhro1 macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    switching parents

    I switched my mum to a macbook pro 13 (she wanted a backlit keyboard) who is completely technophobic when she retired. She can do things on it without help that she never could on her old work pc (itunes-ipod, word processing, email, internet shopping, iphoto etc). And it's never crashed. So it was expensive for her needs, but saves me a major headache of having to sort out her windows frequently. Although in the transition I somehow, after clicking okay a couple of times, on her windows machine managed to delete her log on (I have no idea how). So she's very happy. And it should last her years.

    My Dad was a bit trickier. He is an ex IT lecturer (systems analysis etc), who used to build his own computers. And was going on for ages about wanting ubuntu even though he's no idea how to use it. It took a long time to wear him down, but again I didn't want the hassle of having to sort out an OS I didn't know. He also wanted it to act as a media centre. So when he retired we went halfs on a mac mini server for him. He again is very pleased and the integration between the computers on the network goes down well. He has it plugged into his TV and stereo and uses it as a music/movies hub. It's been flawless so far and he's picked up OSX without a problem. The trackpad has gone down well too. He has problems reading text on the TV, but as it allows him to zoom easily he's happy. It's little things like this and backlit keyboards which seem to impress them.

    So it does sound like a good option for both you and your Dad.
  13. briansolomon macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2005
    Murfreesboro, TN
    It'll work great. My mom is still using her original Mac mini G4 that I convinced her to get a few years back. And since the current minis are so capable now (my mom's only complaint is poor flash video quality) it may be years before he thinks about upgrading.

    Look around for open box, refurb deals. I'm not sure about the UK but in the US I can find a mini for about $100 off the new price pretty easily.

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