I a horry? Here are the winners after several hours of research
Today I will introduce a new category to ElderStrength: Technology for seniors and the elderly! We’ll kick off by looking at the best laptop for the elderly in 2020!
If you want to skip all the interesting background, here are my recommendations:
Let’s face, you have to be able to access the internet to take care of your banking and other business. Services that don’t require you to use a computer are few and far between.
Even though the lack of service personnel and human interaction is a shame, digital services are here to stay. They are simply faster, cheaper and more reliable than humans.
Many seniors are completely fine with using a computer these days but there are still many older people that have never really learned to use a computer. If you are one of these people, it can feel very hard to use the gadgets but don’t worry, most operating systems and digital services are pretty self-explanatory and you will learn to use them with time.
If you are someone who’s looking for a new laptop to get for yourself, a senior relative or for your elderly parents, no matter what your experience levels is, you’ve come to the right place!
Laptops are also a really great tool for strength training and monitoring your fitness. There is no better way to learn exercises in the comfort of your own home than by watching videos from YouTube for example. A laptop with a full-size screen is much better for this than a smartphone. You can also use a laptop to read the data from your fitness tracker and other wearable devices.
Today I will show you the best options for laptops in several price classes that are especially easy to use for seniors. So without further ado, let’s get cracking!
Reasons to get a laptop as a senior?
Let’s start by talking about if a laptop is what you really need and if it’s wise to get a laptop these days. After all, you likely already own a smartphone which can do most of the things a laptop can!
I think it’s definitely a good idea to own a laptop these days even though most people own smartphones and tablet computers. Especially seniors will benefit from some of the features of laptops.
Full-size computers and laptops are simply much easier and faster to use for most activities than tablets or smartphones. There’s a reason why work is still done mainly on table-top computers of laptops.
If you are interested in working online to supplement your retirement, you will need a laptop or a desktop computer. Learn how seniors can work from home.
Let’s look at why using a laptop makes working on a computer so much easier!
The first reason is the simplicity of writing with an actual keyboard. Many seniors struggle with touch screens, especially the tiny ones in smartphones. As you get older, your eye to hand coordination, dexterity, and accuracy of movement tend to decline. This can make using small touch screens troublesome.
Fortunately using a regular keyboard is much easier and requires less coordination as there is more room for an error. I don’t know about you, but I keep constantly hitting wrong letters when typing on my phone or tablet.
A touch screen also virtually requires you to either write with your thumbs or with a single finger. A regular keyboard allows you to write using all your fingers. This makes writing emails, applications, messages, and anything much faster.
So do you really need to write that much these days? Well, it depends. It definitely seems like most public services are transferring into digital services. This means you will likely need to write quite a bit when doing your taxes, banking, applications, etc. Having a real keyboard makes this much easier.
The second reason to get a laptop is the screen. As you get older your eyesight tends to decline as well. A decent size laptop will have a large, easy to read screen.
The larger the laptop, the larger the screen naturally. The screen size is not the only thing that matters, however. Screen resolution, brightness, and contrast are also important.
The resolution essentially means the sharpness of the image. Technically it’s the number of pixels per inch or centimeter. It’s not that important to understand the technical stuff behind the resolution, but it’s good to know that better resolution means a sharper, easier to watch image.
Brightness defines how bright the screen is. In most cases, the brightness is adequate for indoor use but some laptops struggle with outdoor use on a sunny day. So if you plan to use your laptop on the balcony, for example, make sure to pick a model with a bright screen. Beware that when the screen is in a very bright setting, it will use more power and thus reduce battery life.
Contrast means the ability of the screen to differ light and dark colors. This affects how natural and deep colors look in pictures and videos. Contrast can also affect how readable text is, especially in bright settings.
Fortunately these days computer screens are relatively good even in cheap laptops. Still, some budget laptops with large displays can have relatively low resolution and low contrast. These won’t generally bother you too much when typing or browsing the internet but they can be annoying when watching HD video from YouTube for example.
Laptops have evolved to the point that their performance is more than enough to handle typical day to day use like browsing, typing, watching video and editing pictures.
These days most laptops are equipped with powerful processors, graphics processing units and large hard drives. While the performance has risen, so has the variation between the low end and high-end models.
Compact and affordable travel laptops and some Chromebooks are simply tablet computers with an attached keyboard. They usually have a touchscreen, flash memory, and no cooling fan.
This is great for mobility, but not really for performance. High-performance laptops are virtually always bit bulkier and larger. This is because the price of performance is power and heat.
Having a high-performance chipset requires cooling and a large enough battery to power it for extended periods of time. So performance is always a compromise between size.
High performance can be put on a small package, but that is costly because it requires high-performance components and extensive product development to control the heat.
Fortunately, most laptops that are suitable for the elderly are a bit larger. This allows them to have high performance even if they are a budget model.
Even though laptops are not as mobile and easy to take with you as smartphones or tablet computers, they are still much easier to take with you on a trip than a regular desktop computer.
There is no need to get a desktop computer these days unless you are into serious gaming, virtual reality, 3D design, video editing, etc.
Even larger laptops are easy to take with you in case you have to but if you plan on traveling a lot with the laptop, I suggest choosing a bit lighter and smaller model.
The size and weight are always a compromise between performance and usability, so it’s wise to think for a moment what will be your main priority. Mobility, performance or usability. The more you are willing to pay, the less you will naturally need to compromise between these qualities.
For mobile use battery life is also important. Generally speaking, the larger the laptop, the larger the battery. On the other hand, a larger laptop will have a larger screen that uses most of the battery during typical use so some smaller laptops can offer similar battery life to larger laptops.
PCs and Macs and Chromebooks are generally easier to make secure from attacks and viruses than mobile devices.
Actually, there are likely more viruses designed for them but the antivirus programs and firewalls are much better for laptops generally than for mobile devices.
If you have grandkids (or kids) that play online games, a laptop will allow you to participate. I know most older people think that video games are for kids and a waste of time but that is simply not true!
Playing computer games is a great way to improve several cognitive and motor skills and it’s common to socialize over the internet while playing a multiplayer game.
People of all ages are playing games these days and gaming is definitely here to stay. Many kids are enjoying playing computer games with their parents and grandparents and it’s a great way to connect with the younger generation.
A decent laptop will run games like Fortnite, which is a super popular online game among kids these days. You can have friends from all over the world and if your family lives in another city, it’s a fun activity you can do together regardless of your distance.
Laptop for the elderly: What to look for?
The actual size of the laptop defines how large the screen and the keyboard can be. Size, of course, affects how portable the laptop is. Like I mentioned before, size also affects the performance. The larger the laptop, generally the more powerful components and a larger battery. So you will have to find a compromise between usability, portability, performance and of course price.
The size of laptops is shown in screen dimension and they vary from around 10″ to 17″ these days. A 10″ inc laptop will have a relatively small keyboard and screen, and they aren’t really optimal for seniors.
Then again the largest laptops are usually high-performance models, meant for professional use on the go in graphic design, 3d modeling, gaming, etc. You would likely be paying an unnecessary premium on these models for features you don’t need.
The sweet spot between usability, screen size, performance, and the price is around 15″. This is where you get the most bang for the buck with a screen and a keyboard large enough for comfortable use for seniors.
We want a large, high quality, high-resolution screen when we are looking for a good laptop for the elderly. The screen size in high quality 15″ laptops is usually sufficient if you don’t have significant vision problems.
Some laptops these days also feature a touch screen in addition to a keyboard. This might seem a bit strange at first on a regular laptop, but having a touchscreen makes using the computer a lot easier. Especially if you don’t have a separate mouse and are only using the standard trackpad (check out my review for best computer mouse for seniors).
Touching the screen for action is very natural because it takes one point of connection (the mouse) out of the equation. You have surely noticed this with smartphones and tablets.
Like I said earlier, the greatest issue with touchpads is the lack of accuracy and difficulty of writing. With a laptop that has a real keyboard, a trackpad, an option for mouse and a touchscreen, you will get the best of both worlds.
There are currently three common operating systems in full-size laptops. Apple Macbooks have Apples own operating system the OS X, Windows-based PCs have Microsoft Windows 10 and Chromebooks have Google’s Chrome OS.
While all modern operating systems are relatively easy and intuitive to use, it’s important to consider which one to get if you plan on installing software on the computer.
Also, the operating system can make a difference if you have a friend or a relative that can help you with technical issues. Ask them what they are familiar with before making the decision. I say this with firsthand experience.
I’m relatively knowledgeable with PCs and Windows but I know next to nothing about Macs. A relative bought an iMac pro because the seller said it’s the best of the best. Which is kinda true, but the problem was that it was for specific business use that he had software for. He also relied on my help with technical difficulties and for the software installation.
Of course, the software was for Windows and I couldn’t get it running or really do any troubleshooting with the mac, so he eventually bought a high-end Windows-based laptop.
So understand your needs and what you are buying! And don’t let a salesperson convince you otherwise once you know what you need.
If you plan to use the laptop to get in touch with relatives, friends, kids, and grandkids over Skype or other video call software, it’s important to make sure the laptop has a decent camera.
Most laptops have at least a low-quality camera at the top of the screen for video calls, but it’s good to keep in mind that every model still doesn’t have them. If this is a feature you need, make sure the model has a camera and preferably a high-quality one.
Best Windows laptop for the elderly
Let’s start with a Windows laptop for our review for the best laptops for the elderly! Like I said before, Windows laptops are the most common of the bunch and they are used by most Offices, home users and entrepreneurs.
Windows computers are the most versatile of the bunch and can be used for almost any task from watching YouTube to producing music or from editing text to fine-tuning your car engine. The uses and software possibilities for Windows computers are endless.
The current Windows version is Windows 10, which is a stable and touch screen friendly operating system. My recommendation currently for a Windows 10 based computer is this HP 15.6″ Touchscreen Laptop.
- PRICE: $550
- DISPLAY: 15.6 inches 1366 x 768 (HD)
- CPU: i5-8250U 1.6 gigahertz
- STORAGE: 128G SSD /SD Card Reader
- GRAPHIC: Intel UHD Graphics 620 /DVDRW Stereo speakers
- OS : Windows 10 Home
HP, short for Hewlett-Packard, is one of the largest and oldest premium quality PC manufacturers. HP is based in the USA but it has grown to a global corporation. They are almost completely focused on Windows-based computers, so it’s no surprise this device has Windows 10 as the operating system.
The computer features a 15.6″ display and is right in the perfect ballpark for senior users in its size. It features a full-size keyboard that you will find easy to use even if you have issues with finger accuracy. The screen is a touchscreen so you can interact with the computer either through the touchpad, the touch screen or through the keyboard.
The performance is top-notch considering the price. The processor is an 8th generation quad-core Intel i5, which essentially means it’s power efficient and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. The RAM memory is 8 gigabytes of fast DDR4, which is more than enough for any typical home or office use.
The computer features an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 62 GPU which is capable of handling any typical home and office use but will likely run out of power in intensive gaming or virtual reality use. It can run games like Fortnite reasonably well if you reduce the graphics quality though. If you are looking for a computer for serious gaming, I would recommend the Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop.
The HP also features a solid-state SSD hard drive, which means it much faster (and quieter) than a regular hard drive. It’s a bit smaller at 128 Gigabytes than typical hard drives, but most people won’t need that much space anyway since most of the data is stored online these days.
The battery is decent with a 10-hour capacity for typical use. The computer is reasonably light and compact but it’s not super sleek design. This is a good thing because the computer also features a writing DVD -drive which is really rare these days. This is great if you have old DVDs or CDs you want to use or store on your computer.
All in all the HP is a very balanced laptop that’s suitable for home use for seniors. It will handle anything you throw at it except serious gaming and virtual reality.
You won’t be disappointed with this PC as the 4.3 out of 5 Amazon user rating can attest!
Best Macbook for the elderly
The ext computer I would recommend for the elderly is the 15″ Apple Macbook pro. It’s an Apple product so it uses the OS X operating system
- PRICE: $2200
- DISPLAY: 15 inches (Retina)
- CPU: 2.2GHz 6-Core Intel Core i
- STORAGE: 256GB SSD
- GRAPHIC: Radeon Pro 560X
- OS : OS X
Apple is known for its uncompromising quality in both design and performance. They have a premium for their products, making Macbooks quite a bit pricier than Windows PCs with similar hardware and performance. But you really do get what you pay for if you don’t mind the reduced ability to use third party software and configure the operating system.
The MacBook Pro is a very sleek, compact and beautiful looking computer that features a 15″ inch Retina display. The Retina is Apples way of saying the display has an extremely high pixel density and resolution. The picture quality is simply superb but unfortunately, the Macbooks don’t feature a touchscreen.
The performance is excellent even in the base model (you can choose additional performance features when buying) with a 6-core 8th Generation Intel processors, ATI Radeon Pro 560X GPU and between 16 to 32 GB of RAM.
Size wise the 15″ model is perfect for older users as it offers a bit larger display and keyboard. The battery life is good at 10 hours and the computer is very light and thin so it’s a good option for being on the move.
Best Chromebook for the elderly
My final recommendation is the Acer 15.6″ HD Chromebook. Chromebooks are Googles answer to the laptop market. They are sort of a laptop “light”, meaning that they usually have a bit fewer features than similar size PCs or Macbooks. They are really meant for online use mainly based on Google own, mainly free services.
They are in a way more like a crossbreed between smartphones and laptops as they will boot up instantly, have built-in antivirus software and access to all the apps from Google. Just like an Android phone.
- PRICE: $320
- DISPLAY: 15.6 inches
- CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Celeron
- STORAGE: 32GB Flash memory
- GRAPHIC: Integrated
- OS : Chrome
If you want a super simple and fast to use laptop that’s always up to date automatically and requires no technical know-how, this is the one for you. The best part is that it’s really affordable.
This Acer model features decent performance and a touchscreen that makes using the Chromebook much easier. The display is the perfect size for seniors at 15.6″. The battery life is excellent at 12 hours of typical use.
The keyboard is unfortunately not full size even though the device could have been fitted with a larger keyboard. It’s still large enough that most senior users won’t have any problems with it.
Remember, these devices are meant mainly for browsing the internet, doing online shopping, watching media, etc. These are not meant for gaming or hard work.
If your main use is watching YouTube, writing emails and maybe do some video calls with family and friends, this is perfect for stuff like that!
Laptop operating system
If you want to understand more about the difference between these laptops, we need to take a quick look at the different operating systems, their features and what you should look for. As I said, it’s not wise to buy a computer without understanding what you need as this might make things harder later on.
Windows 10 (Microsoft)
Windows-based PCs or personal computers are by far the most common type of computer in the world. Most offices use them, the internet was built on them and they are the go-to device for anyone serious in computer technology.
PCs are not actually a brand, they are a standardized computer hardware component system that can be configured in countless ways and use different operating systems. For the sake of simplicity, we will stick to Windows computers here, as they are by far the most common operating system in PCs.
Windows is a PC operating system developed by Microsoft and it has been around since the early 90s. Because of their diversity Windows, PCs have been used in everything from professional to home use.
The good thing about Windows-based PCs is that you can customize and configure the operating system quite a bit. In some laptops, it’s also possible to upgrade and customize hardware like hard drive and memory, although that’s getting rarer as laptops have gotten smaller and more integrated.
One great thing about Windows computers is that there is more software available than for most uses (and for free) than in other operating systems. This is because most software is developed for Windows computers.
My recommendation is to get a Windows-based PC if you are unsure of what you need. They are the most versatile of the bunch and they are much more affordable than Apple products for example.
The price is that Windows computers have a reputation of being unreliable, prone to security issues and freezing. I personally have used Windows PC all my life and can attest these are things of the past. Windows 10 definitely seems to be very stable and reliable.
OS X (Apple)
The OS X (Operating System X) is the operating system Apple uses in its laptops and tabletop computers. Apple has a very clear and strong brand that is known for superior quality, usability and stability. Their laptops are called Macbooks, as Apple was formerly known for their Macintosh personal computers.
Unlike most PCs, Apple products are not meant to be tinkered with. Both the operating system and hardware are much more predefined and require less technical knowledge.
The good thing about this is that due to fewer variables, Apple has managed to build a relatively stable operating system and hardware architecture. This is why many professionals, especially in visual professions like graphic design, trust Apple as the go-to computer.
Their brand is very strong, as you are surely aware of, and you have to pay around twice the price for similar performance than in Windows-based PCs.
One consideration is that if you already own an iPhone and use Apple services, a MacBook will function a lot better with them than a PC.
Chromebooks are Google’s answer to the portable computer market. They have a bit of a different ideology compared to Windows and Apple computers.
Chromebooks are designed to work over the internet, using Googles services with minimal investment on hardware.
This means they aim to make their services so fast, that the computer doesn’t actually have to do much work, simply receive the data from the server. This is definitely where the world seems to be going in the future.
The upside to this is that the Chromebooks don’t require high-end components for performance, they are affordable, light and portable.
The downside is that you need a stable internet connection for most things and there isn’t much you can do outside of Googles services. But Google’s services are really good, versatile and above all they are free.
Don’t let this freedom fool you though. Basically, Google owns everything you create with their products as you store everything in their cloud servers. All it takes is a glitch or service agreement change on their side and all your pictures, writings, emails etc. are gone.
This is why I think there is still a case to be made for having a local copy on a physical hard drive. You actually own the data on it, not some huge faceless corporation.
That said, if your main use for a computer is watching YouTube videos, using Gmail, browsing the Internet with Chrome, using social media etc. a Chromebook is actually an affordable option.
Just make sure you save a local copy of your family photos!
In case you are not familiar with computer slang and want to learn more about the specifications of laptops, here are the basics:
CPU or Processor: The main processing unit of the computer that does all the data processing you see as the picture on your screen. The processor is the single most important component for laptop performance alongside the GPU and RAM. The two biggest manufacturers are Intel and AMD. The speed is usually shown as gigahertz (GHz) but that doesn’t really tell too much these days. The architecture of the processor is more important but that goes beyond the scope of this post.
RAM: Short for Random Access Memory. The memory that the processors reads from and writes to. This where the computer stores short term data that the processor needs to perform its functions. The amount of RAM can affect the performance of some resource intense functions like 3d modeling. In day to day use, most laptops have more than enough RAM these days.
Harddrive (HDD and SSD): This is where the computer stores long term data like documents, executables and operating system data. HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive and they use a mechanical magnetic hard disk to read and write data. SSD stands for Solid State Drive that uses Flash memory, without any moving parts. SSD is much faster and durable than a regular hard drive, so it’s wise to choose an SSD drive.
GPU: Graphics processing unit. The GPU is responsible for producing the actual graphics you see on your screen. Historically this was done by the processor, but as graphics evolved and grew more advanced, it became common to split the resources between the GPU and the CPU. If you plan on gaming, using virtual reality or doing 3d modeling, a high-performance GPU is important. If you don’t do any of those, any GPU will be fine.
Battery: The battery is the power source of the computer when not connected to an external power source. The capacity of the battery and performance of the laptop affect how long the laptop can be used without an external source. The actual capacity of the battery is not important, because the battery life is so dependent on the computer. What’s important is to look for battery life in hours. Anything over 10 hours in active use is usually good enough for typical use. If you plan to use your laptop a lot on the road or off the grid, look for something with a long battery life as possible.
I hope you found these recommendations for a senior-friendly laptop useful and found a model you like! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me through the comments section below.
Laptops are great for keeping up with the times. You pretty much have to have a computer and an internet connection these days if you want to live independently and do your own chores.
Seniors shouldn’t be afraid to use computers. These days they are intuitive and easy to use and most computers come with antivirus software that protects you from viruses and attacks. Just use common sense when browsing the internet and if someone offers you something that’s too good to be to true, it’s a hoax. Every single time. Keep that in mind and you have nothing to worry about.
If you happened to stumble here directly and don’t know what this site is actually about, I have great news for you! I want to give you a free strength training program that you (or your senior relative) can use to improve your health, mobility, and balance. All of which are very important for independent living and longevity!
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See you next time!