Top positive review
105 people found this helpful
Worth the extra $$ -- it's about the comfort, not the technology
on August 3, 2012
Over the years I've looked at several computers which were "senior friendly". In the past, they all pretty much were shells over Windows, which essentially added another layer of code that could go wrong. This computer is Linux-based, and everything is coded from the ground up for senior use.
Although my mother is not a complete technophobe, she is not comfortable with technology, and my father retired early rather than deal with computers in his business, so he would never allow one in the house. A couple years ago she bought an HP laptop and hired a woman to help her set it up and learn how to use it. SInce the woman was a senior herself, we thought this might work out ok. It has been a disaster. There were so many cautions and "don't do this" and different menus involved that she would get frustrated and eventually quit trying. Add to this trying to deal with at&t's email system and she hasn't gone near it in months. A couple weeks ago she decided to give it another go and things turned into a complete farce, until I finally figured what the consultant had done and also determined that there is an apparent fault in the keyboard.
Then my mother spotted this computer in the aarp magazine (it is marketed there under another name -- but it is the same machine-at the same price,). When it first arrived and she opened the box and saw cables and a keyboard box she felt a little intimidated and was ready to send it back, but she called the company and calmed down a bit, and then told me about it and showed me the ad. When I went online I realized it was the same machine that was getting good reviews and that nothing else out there seems to be in the same class, so I convinced her it give it a try. There is a 60 day trial period, during which she gets free "VIP" service, which normally runs about $10 a month.
On the day I was set to help her set it up, she opened the box, and, following the pictures in the manual (which runs to almost 100 large-type pages), had everything connected before we got there. While she and my wife were talking, I had it up and running.in about 10 minutes (or less). We set her up with a new gmail account and within a few minutes she was in front of the machine.
To begin with, she was impressed with how bright the screen was (although it can be adjusted) and how easy everything was to read. When I showed her how she could navigate using the touch screen buttons down the left side she was thrilled. She was happy that she didn't have to log in (you can set it up for different users but we didn't need to) The web home page has links to pretty much the web pages she'll most need, but additional sites can be added. All the links are at least one inch buttons and logos as well as names and, of course, operate by touch. She was pleased that she doesn't need to use the mouse and only needs the keyboard when actually putting information in.
We had a minor issue with email and called the support number. They are open until 8pm eastern time and we called at 7:55. After about a two minute wait, the US based support person answered. You could tell it was end of the day, but the person talked us through the issue. Try calling any other computer company five minutes before tech support closes and see how far you get.
When you do need to make changes in settings, sometimes they take a while to propagate and you think they haven't taken effect, but they have
We walked my mother through the menu system and showed her how to shut down the computer, then had her re-start it and play a game of solitaire. I told her to practice using the touch screen (she tends to press harder than necessary but remove her finger too fast) by playing with the game, and also to practice her mouse skills (which she'll still need on some web sites) The important point we emphasized is that she can't hurt the machine or lock it up. If she gets in any trouble all she has to do is hit the "home" button at the upper left and start over. She's already spent more time with this machine than she ever did with the laptop;
And that's the important point. This review has already rambled on too long, but there are many features of the operating system that were clearly thought through for seniors and those uncomfortable with computers for whatever reason. And you can't mess it up. That, more than anything else, makes it worth while for my mother. All software, security, and system updates are sent automatically by the company, so there are no annoying popups or emails.or concerns about how to download and install.
I've seen complaints in other reviews about the cost of this computer because the physical machine could be purchased for half the price and installing outside programs is basically not possible. These completely miss the point. The simple, unbreakable OS with all the basics (email, web, skype, basic office applications, pdf reader and more) on a large bright touch screen and support that is geared toward novices and actually answers the phone are the whole point of this machine. That is what you are paying for, and, in my estimation it is well worth it.