Up to $400 iMac for computer illiterate parents?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by coolbreeze, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. coolbreeze macrumors 68000

    coolbreeze

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2003
    Location:
    UT
    #1
    I've been around here forever and rarely need advice on purchases, but this one has me stumped.

    Quick background: My parents are in their mid 60's. They are VERY computer illiterate. I gave them an ancient (core duo I believe) Mac Mini like 6 years ago. It's still working to this day, which amazes me. Their 10.5 uptime probably measures in years... (I updated it from 10.3 I think years ago). I am going to visit them in a month or so and want to replace their aging rig with an iMac. I bought them a webcam for their Mac Mini and they used it once, then it "broke." Fact is, they don't know what to do with it since it's not integrated. Plus, when their keyboard/mouse batteries die, they call me saying they have a "virus."

    So, that's the baseline I'm working with. They are lucky to get on the web without issues, so they are very computer illiterate.

    That said, what's the most reliable iMac out there in my price range (up to $400 or so)? I don't want a machine that has graphic card issues or other such "gotchyas." Just something I can put a clean install of (Mountain Lion?) on and call it a day without expecting frantic calls saying things are broken. I'm out West and they live on the Gulf Coast so its not exactly easy to drive over and bail them out. If something goes wrong and I can't remote in to fix, they give up and I get frustrated because I can't be there to help.

    Thanks in advance for any advice. I'm fully aware of eBay and Craigslist, just looking for the best model out there (either white iMac or aluminum, depending on price) that I can set up and not worry about for another 6-8 years.
     
  2. noteple macrumors 65816

    noteple

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    #2
    iPad

    Built in cameras, Facetime, Games, video, browsing, App store,
    nothing to boot.

    Can get by without frequent updates

    Grandparent proof UI

    Or

    Keep the faith
     
  3. coolbreeze thread starter macrumors 68000

    coolbreeze

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2003
    Location:
    UT
    #3
    Thanks, but that's not gonna work out. I had them try my iPad a few years back and they literally hated it. Could barely navigate it - used to a computer form factor. They didn't understand the touch aspect.

    Their vision is not good and simply making fonts and things bigger is a no-go on such a small screen. And the touch factor, believe it or not, is not something they would ever use. They need a keyboard and mouse, and not some janky iPad setup with a dock.

    In short, and should have put in the OP, an iPad is a no-go. Must be a computer.

    There are reasons beyond what I just typed, believe me. I've explored the option and it fell flat.
     
  4. mrsir2009 macrumors 604

    mrsir2009

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #4
    You could get a more updated Mac Mini - It might work out cheaper since they already have a screen, keyboard and mouse that they could use (which would mean less change for the old folks :D). Plus if the screen craps out you only need to replace that, and not the whole computer :)
     
  5. noteple macrumors 65816

    noteple

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    #5
    Well if no iPad and you got all the other stuff a refurb Mini would be my choice.
     
  6. coolbreeze thread starter macrumors 68000

    coolbreeze

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2003
    Location:
    UT
    #6
    Thanks. I'm actually disappointed in myself that I didn't consider that to begin with... :eek:

    That may be a good option as I have an unused panel in my office (23" HP LED or something). Their panel now is an ancient Dell 15" square display, which is surely on it's deathbed. Plus, with whatever setup I do, I must have a wired KB and mouse. I'm tired of the "VIRUS!" phone calls when the batteries die in the KB/mouse :)

    Are there any known flaws in the newer minis to be aware of? Clearly the model I gave them in 2006 was rock solid...need the same, be it an iMac or mini. I'd prefer an iMac just based on the integrated webcam (believe it or not) but would consider a mini since it's worked for so long.
     
  7. Che Castro macrumors 603

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    #7
    60 years old & don't know much about computers

    Get them iPads instead


    Edit: ok just go with a new Mac mini
     
  8. coolbreeze, Oct 5, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012

    coolbreeze thread starter macrumors 68000

    coolbreeze

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2003
    Location:
    UT
    #8
    At this point, I'm honestly just considering putting in a new hard drive and calling it a day. That's the only thing I can think of that would die. If the logic board hasn't kicked the bucket yet, I'd assume it will keep on keepin' on (of course who knows).

    An HDD and wired KB/mouse? I think it has 4 gigs of RAM already. Why break what's working? Maybe bring my display with me (LED) so that's guaranteed to work for many more years.

    Then there's the iMac consideration. It's all there and if I can get one for a few hundred bucks, maybe I'm back to that? What's the most reliable version of the iMac?

    And, not that I need to on this forum, but in case anyone says get them a cheap Windows machine...
    I got them a brand new Lenovo laptop two years ago. They never touched it after I flew home. The didn't know how to use Windows (after using OSX). So that's out (sad, as it's much cheaper). I will bring it home and use it as it's been sitting dormant for over 2 years. Sad.

    As a Windows fan and user, I will say they absolutely need a Mac. Many moons ago, I bought them a Dell and it was RIDDLED with viruses. That was a nightmare to manage, so I got them the mini.
     
  9. mrsir2009 macrumors 604

    mrsir2009

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #9
    Do they actually want a new computer, or do you think they want a new computer just because theirs is "ancient"? Because if the tasks they preform on the computer haven't changed, then a new computer isn't really needed. Most older, computer illiterate people I know (I know a few) would rather have the old and familiar that's a bit slow (they won't even know that it's slow if they haven't had a new one) rather than a "new" computer that's a bit faster and has a new OS and new & updated software that they aren't used to. For example, when my parents upgraded from Tiger to Lion (new iMac because the old one broke) they didn't like the fact that when they restarted their iMac all the windows and apps opened up that they had open when they shut it down. Old folks do not like change - They won't use all the new OS features, and speed improvement won't be worth it for the hurdles they'll have to overcome.

    So what do they think?
     
  10. jpine macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2007
    #10
    Go with a refurb Mini. My mom is in her mid-70's and is still using the G4 Mac Mini I gave her years ago! Definitely a good idea to go with a wired KB and mouse and the 23" LCD will serve them well as their sight weakens a bit. You might want to give some thought as to whether to go with Snow Leopard instead of ML. The slight change in the ML UI may give them fits.
     
  11. coolbreeze thread starter macrumors 68000

    coolbreeze

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2003
    Location:
    UT
    #11
    They would be just fine using what they have forever. If I told them I was getting them a new computer, they would say "no no no, we don't need that" so it's definitely in my head.

    I guess my entire mission here is due to the fact that their current machine is close to 7 years old and I'm just waiting on it to die. When that happens, it's going to be a fiasco and and a half to fix it due to how expensive and difficult it is for me to get to them. So I figured I'd be proactive and replace the hardware when I visit (which is at most once/year).

    I'm just trying to "future proof" them for the next 6-8 years and, for some reason, don't have confidence that their current hardware will last that long.
     
  12. mrsir2009 macrumors 604

    mrsir2009

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #12
    Well, my Dad is on a 6 yr old MacBook Pro and it's still chuggin' along nicely. And his old iBook G3 still works fine as well - Computers do have the potential to last a looooonngg time, it's just that most of us want something bigger, better and faster far before the hardware dies ;)

    Since the Mac Mini has lasted for 6 yrs with no problems it is obviously a very reliable computer - There's a much slimmer chance of that dying than a new computer, as a new computer won't have the same great "track record" :D
     
  13. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #13
    I dont see a reason why the computer shouldnt work another 7 years. Minis are reliable and they dont break often. Maybe changing the harddrive would be a good idea. Get them wired KB and mouse, maybe a sharper display if they have poor sight. You might consider setting up the system with bigger text.

    Also have you considered how Mountain Lion is different from Tiger? I wouldnt change their OS, youre gonna have to so support tech all the time.
     
  14. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Location:
    ladner cdn
    #14
  15. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #15
    No reason why a computer shouldn't work for 6 years.
     
  16. fastlanephil macrumors 6502a

    fastlanephil

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    #16
    Send them to an Apple store or good Apple reseller to buy an iPad and then sign up for instructional classes.

    Don't give them an option. Refuse to give them anymore support unless they make a real effort at this.

    This is not a healthy situation for them or you.

    You have to put your foot down!



    Dr. Phil ;)
     
  17. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #17
    I would just clone the current hard drive to an inexpensive SSD and pop that in there. It will make it much snappier for everyday tasks, which is what it sounds like they use it for.

    Also, I would make sure to get a ext. HDD to do Time Machine backup to...Nothing worse than having to explain to computer-illiterate people why all their precious files, photos, etc. will never be seen again because nothing was backed up.

    Also, possibly set them up with CCC and an external drive, too. This way, if their HDD crashes, you can just have them boot to the bootable clone and then you can remote in to see what went wrong.

    You can actually use the same drive for both TM and CCC if the drive is big enough.

    I am only giving you these options because I don't think you will find a much more reliable Mac for your price range than the one you already have. And, having a good backup plan is essential. :)
     
  18. drjaymez macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    #18
    I agree with everything this man said.
     

Share This Page