5 Best Laptops For Seniors 2020 (Simple & Easy To Use)

What’s the best laptop for seniors ?

That depends on what kind of senior we are dealing with. It doesn’t mean you are buying a laptop for someone who isn’t tech savvy ( but there are of course a few who are). I know of a lady in her 70s that’s actually a full time online gamer leading a dozen players in a computer game (including me). One of my best friends & closest neighbor was a retired senior citizen too and he could pretty much fix any computer issue you’d throw at him. 

How do you find the best laptop for seniors then?

First, the most important thing is : don’t assume your senior is completely computer illiterate if you don’t know your senior very well. If you do, you’ll be doing a fatal mistake when shopping for a laptop. Who do you think invented the computer or started the computer revolution and all the technology we enjoy today? Them.

According to seniors like them…

Focus on buying the most user friendly and simple device you can find, not because they are new to computers (we’ll include an option for those who are too) but because they’ll give your senior the least amount of troubleshooting but even more important they will be more suitable for the physical limitations that age unfortunately has brought to some of them

Unlike you or me, senior citizens or your elderly parents do not have the patience to spend the entire day trying to fix something and they’ll be likely have to call YOU to fix it even if it’s at 3 in the morning.

Seniors are like everyone else really , they just want to get things done fast and not spend the entire day trying to fix/do stuff.

This is even more true for seniors who haven’t been introduced to the latest systems out there and have gotten used to their old rigs. Think about switching to a Mac (if you’ve been a windows guy your entire life, you’ll get it). Think about how annoying it can be to spend the half a day trying to locate a file or learning how to use a program if you’re completely new to a Mac.

So for what kind of laptops should we look for then? 

senior woman glasses

Depends. For example, some seniors:

– Have physical impairments and can’t use the cheapest laptop you’ve seen at Costco.

– Are very accustomed to simple set ups and do not have the patience to switch and deal with the more bells and whistles the latest gaming rigs have.

– May not be computer savvy at all (.01%) and will need the most user friendly device you can get your hands on.

Anyways, in this article…

You should be able to find laptops taking into account all we’ve talked about. 

There’s also a guide on everything you need to know to find the best laptop for your senior, elderly parents and (maybe) another device much more suitable. I’ve tried to include as much detail as possible in it, so you can all find the most suitable laptop for any situation.

Top 5 Best Laptops For Seniors

Although this is a short list , 95% of you should find a laptop suitable for a senior (if you are not a senior citizen yourself).

A few of them might require you to break the piggy bank but not all.

Note that, despite what other sites might want you to believe not all of these laptops will work perfectly for your seniors right out of the box. (except maybe for the priciest ones well Macs…).

So you may need to do a little tweaking here and there and a few adjustments(use the guide at the end) to make it perfect (I’ll also tell you which ones need a little tweaking and how to do it).

Again Don’t forget whenever you pick a laptop for a senior you should consider:Senior typing on laptop

– Level of computer literacy: is your senior used to a specific operating system? Is he/she still using Windows XP? or hasn’t been in touch with modern computers ever?
– Purpose for which it will be used: day to day tasks or run some heavy software(photo,video editing)?
– Physical impairments: does your senior have hand movement problems or poor vision?

 


Generally though we will need:

  • 4GB RAM for decent multitasking but 8GB is recommended for editing software and crazy multitasking(when you forget to close those 50 chrome tabs) .
  • 256GB storage (for photos and videos and movies for editing or just to watch them like the entire series of I love Lucy…)
  • Any modern processor will do fine for basic tasks and day to day computing. Just avoid Atom or Pentium based laptops. Really watch out for those they can be super slow!
  • The greatest display you can afford, full HD resolution or go home. 15-17” screen size( more space ) if visually impaired. 11” is unacceptable.
  • Great keyboard ( what is great? Responsive, not mushy, registers clicks flawlessly so that even those with hand impairments can type with no issues).
  • A good sound system might be good for those with hearing issues but you’ve also got headphones.

Optional:

  • Weight and battery might not matter if your senior will use the laptop around the house, if they’re something like  a blogger and moving all over the place aim for something less than 4lb. Anything more will feel like they are carrying you when you were a baby.
  • Ports: HDMI and x2 USB at a min. (for external monitors & keyboards). Just in a case your senior may not be able to tolerate the screen  size and the keyboard (desktop screens and external keyboards are on a whole different level of comfort).

1. ASUS ZenBook Flip 14 Ultra-Slim  

Best Touchscreen Laptop For Seniors

14” Full HD Core i5 8th 8GB RAM 256GB Windows 10

 Performance:  

This is the modern version of the AZUS ZenBook Flip that’s I’ve posted several years ago here. Again this is a portable laptop so you can flip it back and forth as if it were a tablet if you’d like.This is a huge bonus if your senior likes to browse around the web while laying on the couch or his bed or while eating breakfast. Obviously they can turn it back into a laptop when some real work is in order.

Processor:
Instead of the old and slow core m3, the newest versions have an 8th generation CPU (yeah we are in the 9th or even 10th but who needs those today?). Plus the fact that it’s not the latest of the latest means it easily fits into a portable device such as this one (this is a convertible laptop) without compromising durability and safe temperatures.

This version not only has a late generation processor but also a nice SSD storage device (and the fastest : PCIe NVMe), in layman’s terms, this means your senior is getting the fastest storage device out there which translates to booting up the system in a blink (literally seconds) and opening software in less than a second which means a faster workflow and multitasking.

What can this laptop like this can do? It’ll allow you to run Office, edit photos, watch movies, browse the internet with several dozens of tabs open and yes doing all of this simultaneously. 

A downside of this CPU, compared to the old core m3 posted years ago, is that it’s not noiseless. All Core i3, Core i5 , Core i7s are pretty damn fast today but they will all have some noise (you can only hear it in a really quiet area like at midnight on the suburbs though).

 

 Display:
14-Inch Touchscreen FHD 1920×1080 

The display is truly remarkable. Even the size is just perfect, 14” is the sweet spot for those with vision problems without making it too heavy to carry and hold. Heck in fact, it’s actually a 13” laptop but they’ve managed to fit a 14” screen in it by getting rid of all the bezels around it (genius and perfect for seniors).

It’s an IPS panel with FHD resolution too, this means, you can clearly see what’s on the screen from any angle, no matter how twisted your senior is in the bed reading email they’ll be able to clearly distinguish what’s on the screen.

As a bonus, it does come with a anti-glare finish which is certainly useful to take care of your vision while using it especially if you are surrounded by highly illuminated areas (outside or next to a window). Can it get any more perfect than this? We’ll see.

 Keyboard:  

Last model’s keyboar was decent, this one is great. Why? It’s bigger doesn’t feel squeezed as in a 11-13” laptop. It’s responsive with great travel however since the design is made out of plastic(mostly), there’s some flex when you open up the laptop. Anyways it’s a full blown keyboard, there are no keys missing: : ENTER, SHIFT , BACKSPACE. It’s arrows keys are well separated too.

The single drawback is the plastic material but typing on it should be comfortable and easy to get used to. Unlike the older models, this model does offer a backlit keyboard( this is a must have these days).

 Sound:  

Last year’s speakers were pretty bad, their maximum value didn’t feel like “maximum”. This model on the other hand, has a wide range of volume, you can super low and ultra high.  If you are senior into rock and roll , you can blast on 80s rock music without having to a buy a separate set of speakers.

 Operating System & Ease of Use: Windows 10

This model like every other model comes with Windows 10 with Cortana. This is like Siri from the iPhone 11, you can ask her whatever you want to do : check news, use a search engine, check the weather forecast without having to type a thing on it,

By the way, the mic that comes with it is pretty accurate so you don’t have to buy a external one if you want cortana to understand what you’re saying. The OS will definitely require an update to be fully functional though, it’s been out for ages…now.

 Portability: 2.1lb , 6 hours.

 Ports: x2 USB 3.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port.

Overall this is the best laptop for most seniors out there. Every important feature is included and nicely balanced (not the best , not the worst). It’s a comfortable & fast laptop without the need of breaking the piggy bank!

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2. Asus VivoBook F510 

Best Inexpensive Laptop for Seniors

14” Full HD Celeron N3700 4GB RAM 128 GB Windows 10

 

The older version of the ASUS ViVoBook used to be the best deal on amazon with the best bang for your buck price out there. Recent models, offer nearly the same features but unfortunately with very steep prices.

However…

If you choose the model with an AMD Processor, then this thing becomes quite affordable. In fact, these days are producing not only more affordable but actually on par or better processors than their Intel Counterparts. So do not be afraid to opt for a laptop with an “AMD” processor at all. I have written a separate article about it you may want to check out if you’re not convinced.

 

 Performance: 
Intel Celeron N3700 1.6 GHz, Turbo to 2.4 GHz , 128GB Storage

Anyways, this machine is by no means a workhorse for gaming or professional editors but for the general user it’s a best. It’s pretty much maxed out for everyday tasks and even amateur photo/video editing.

The processors is not slow at all. It goes up to 3.7GHz far more than the older model with a celeron or the intel core i3 latest generation processors.

This means web browsing skyping typing letters photo editing and even gaming will not be hiccupy at all. And unlike cheaper models it comes with 8GB RAM with DDR4 which is the fastest RAM technology out there to make it go turbo.

Lastly, check out the storage space, not only does it have 128GB of SSD for you to take advantage of the ultra highspeeds of SSDs (booting up the machine, launching software in a flash) but also 1TB of HDD space to store the entire series of the jeffersons 100 times fold ( I actually did the calculations, check my other article on how to do this).

 

 Display:  

Most importantly, just like the ZenBook, the display has every feature a senior could ask for. First of all, this is a bigger display: 15” paired up with a full HD resolution, this should make reading and watching movies easier on the eyes.

On top of that , it has the glossy finish which should protect the eyes from glares/reflections. It doesn’t affect the image quality, it is still sharp and vivid regardless of what angle you looking at, yes it has an IPS Panel too.

If there is anything wrong with how the screen looks right after taking it out of the box, you can always optimize its brightness, contrast and color by using the AMD’s Graphics Control Panel, which by the way has a better video card than the Intel HD series.

Note that this model has a display 1” bigger than the ZenBook Flip and this is cool and dandy because it’s supposed to be a laptop and not meant to be be on top of your chest or right in front of your eyes while you hold it standing up.

If the screen size is not big enough for a senior with vision problems,you can always always set magnification to 150% using the display settings. 

 Keyboard:  

Even with all the stuff mentioned above and its low price tag, this baby comes with a full blown backlit keyboard with all the bells and whistles. Keys are nicely set apart and all the arrow keys are of the same size.

No flexing found unless you stand on top of it.  If it did have it though, nothing wrong with some flexing as long as it’s not present when you’re typing on it. These are laptops not war tanks.

The “weak” spacebar some users reported with the former version is gone, there’s no need to put it more force to register space with this one.

 Sound:  

The speakers aren’t the best on the market, you can’t blast out KISS songs as if you were in a rock concert but it is crystal clear and crisp enough to listen to music, watch videos and Skype without the use of headphones.

If for some reason the speaker’s quality aren’t good enough you can always tweak it up a lil’ by opening the Audio Manager and play with the equalizer button to set the volume to max.

 

 Operating System & Ease of Use: Windows 10

This model also has Win10. 

Unlike other brands which fill their PCs with bloatware this model has zero bloatware in it. 
You won’t have to spend hours trying to install ads and useless software, you may have to wait a bit for windows to update that’s it.

 

 Portability:  9 hours, 3.3lb.

 Ports:  Wi-Fi 802. 11 AC. Bluetooth 4.0. 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB3.1 Type C, 1 x HDMI.

This is the best laptop for seniors who want a Windows laptop with the best display possible. And seniors who only desire to use it as a laptop and not a tablet because this thing is a relatively heavy (3.7lb) and can’t turn into a tablet.

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3. MacBook Air

Best Rated Laptop For Seniors

13.3”  HD+ Core i5 5th 8GB RAM 256GB Flash MAC OS Mojave

There’s not much to say about the MacBooks. We all know they’re top notch have every feature a laptop could ask for: great keyboard, great display , ultrafast performance and easy to use Operating system. The truth of the matter is that this laptop surpasses nearly every laptop out there (for daily tasks purposes only!).

Unfortunately, it is expensive!

There are tons of MacBooks to choose from, depending on how fast you’d want it to be, you can choose any of the following:

 Performance:

Well to be honest, all of them are fast enough for daily tasks and even photo editing. It just comes down to how portable you’d want your macbook to be and how awesume you’d want your display to be.

You could do some serious video and photo editing with the last two though if you’ve got a senior into that kind of stuff. Simple photo/video editing however can be done on any of those 4 models.

 Display:  

Well the display varies from model to model. Long story short all the MacBooks , except for the Old MacBook Air, have awesome displays. They have more resolution than your average laptop or any laptop on this list (this is called “retina display”) and have on average better brightness and gamut(color accuracy) and they obviously include the IPS panel for better viewing angles.

The air is the only exception which has a pretty low resolution for today’s standard: HD+. That doesn’t mean it’s useless(why would I post it on the main pic?) . I’m using the Air as I type this review. It just means, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to seniors with vision problems, especially the 11” version. 

There are in fact a few advantages of buying an this old MacBook Air. Note that it’s not really old or used, it’s just an older model that’s still being made by Apple and for several good reasons!

Even with the screen lacking full HD/retina solution and haters hating on it on youtube.

 Keyboard:  

One of the reasons is its superb keyboard. True, all MacBooks have insanely good keyboards but the the Old MacBook Air tops all of them, followed by the New MacBook Pros and definitely not the New MacBook Air, I used it and personally did not like it. 

Despite having a low travel distance due to its thinness, the keyboard of the Old MacBook Air shown here its very responsive. In fact, it’s the easiest keyboard to type I’ve encountered.

The New MacBook Pros have a similar feeling to it , though definitely not the same.

But if you choose them over this MacBook Air( again they should only be considered for seniors with vision problems) you’d get the touchbar with it. It can come in handy for those who want love to access anything quickly without relying on the keyboard+trackpad  just like a tablet. Need MSWord? Skype? They’re just one button away.

 Sound:  

All macbooks have crispy and clear sound. The great difference is how loud they can be. The more expensive your MacBook is, the louder the speakers. 

There’s no loss of sound quality no matter how high you set up the volume to. I would say they have the best sound speakers  out of the entire list.

 Operating System & Ease of Use: MAC OSX Sierra

Here’s the deal breaker: the Operating System: Mac OSX. Actually it’s only a problem if :

     – If your senior is used to his Windows based rig

      – Or if the entire community he/she is in (friends,colleagues,relatives) are all using Windows based machines. It’s definitely going to be an issue the more he is connected with them. He’d feel left out and might not be able to get help for troubleshooting issues(as if that would ever happen with a mac but it could be recommendations for software, apps,games,etc). 

If that’s not a problem and your senior doesn’t spend the entire day on a laptop with friends then an Apple Machine has several(in fact might be a better choice) over a Windows machine: no need for wait for updates, everything will work right out of the box, tons of accesibility options which are actually better, no viruses and far less troubleshooting,it looks good and the OS is super easy to use and learn!

Choose this MacBook Air if you’ve got a senior with no major vision problems, otherwise opt for a 13” MacBook Pro. If vision problems are severe and you’d still want him/her to get a Mac, break the piggy bank and buy the 16” MacBook Pro.

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4. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA

Best Chromebook for Elderly
Laptop or Tablet 

Asus ChromeBook C302SA Best Laptop For Seniors

12.5” Full HD Core m3 4GB RAM 64GB eMMC Chrome OS

ChromeBooks are the cheapest laptops you’ll find online and by no means does it mean they’re of cheap quality, most chromebooks have insane build quality and durability. I have a 6 year old chromebook still kicking ( except for a few keys here and there not working anymore).

As you browse around the web, you might beging to wonder , why are they cheap and yet so fast? Well it’s the OS and what you can do with it. It’s only useful for basic tasks and very basic photo editing and simple gaming so it’s components are cheap and enough to blast through any of those activities.

ChromeBooks are a good choice if that’s what your senior really plans on doing, has no vision problems(they have small screens) and does not plan on installing anything.

 Performance:  
Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC

Like I said before don’t spec to have the best latest and more powerful components on a ChromeBook because it really doesn’t need them, the apps, software and the OS in it are all sufficiently ran by any old/slow processors (ChromeBooks are the only exception to the rule I’ve outlined above).

Yes, you can even do insane web browsing(+20 tabs open), word editing and stream videos simultaneously with any of them. 

Websites will load quickly and scroll up and down with no lag (if you run Chrome OS even better…the reason it’s obvious).

Another advantage of ChromeBooks(just like the Air), is that they have insane battery lives, I mean they’re really long, you’ll be amazed how much your chromebook can last compared to your mobile iphone (even if your phone is on iddle).

A huge downside(depending on how you look at it), is their storage space, you can’t store anything on it. Pretty much all space will be taken up by apps, the OS and other little things you add to it. You can definitely fit in a 1000 or so photos but no more than that, you’d have to store them either on the cloud (which ChromeBooks do automatically) or on a separate USB device (all chromebooks have an USB port for that purpose).

Although the storage is pretty low, the speed is pretty insane, it’s a derivative of the Mac’s SSD and will also boot up your machine in seconds and come back to life from iddle mode in a flash.

Anyways, I don’t think you’d find the lack of storage space annoying, what can you store on a laptop if you don’t do gaming or if you don’t store thousands of series on it? Most people just stream them through NetFlix these days anyways.

 Sound:  

Sound quality is great.  Really decent volume for a small little thing. Pretty clear and not muffy or choppy! Nothing to remark here.

 Display:  
1080p, IPS, Glossy, 12.5 inch, TouchScreen

Most ChromeBooks have displays similar to the old MacBook Air, I mean they’re not bad, but they’re not the best either. I’ve chosen this chromebook out of the entire horde of chromebooks roaming on Amazon because besides all the perks and praises I’ve mentioned about ChromeBooks above this one has a pretty high quality display.

Although it’s small and certainily might not be very useful for seniors with vision problems, it’s got a 1080p resolution and IPS panel. 

Brightness levels on the display are average but they’re high enough to be visible indoors with no issues regardless the angle(IPS!).

This time the screen has a glossy finish, so it might not be good to use if the person using loves to using laptops on their porch, next to a room with a huge windows on plain daylight time.

Another bonus though is the touchScreen. It can totally transform into tablet and can be used as a tablet too, you can actually open up everything from apps to settings and manipulate it to see a Movie as if it were a real tablet. In fact, the on screen keyboard will automatically switch on when you turn it on its side. 

 Keyboard:  
One thing Chromebooks  are known for are their bad & cheap plastic keyboard. But this one’s is of high quality, has great travel distance (1.6mm), feels solid with great click feeling to it. Plus it’s also backlit.

 Operating System & Ease of Use:Chrome OS

Now that the Google Store and its android apps have made their way into ChromeBooks(this wasn’t possible a few years ago), having a ChromeBook nowadays can be as entertaining as having a tablet/iPhone with tons of apps in it.

These apps will let you do photo editing, video editing, gaming, puzzles and anything else you can do on a smartphone.

This is pretty much the main reason why I’ve chosen this model to represent all ChromeBooks out there. It is one of the few ChromeBooks that can turn into a tablet. Besides all the advantages mentioned above let us remember that tablets may be more comfortable for seniors sometimes.

Learning Curve?

This isn’t your typical OS, so there’s really not much learning curve if any. It’s just a web browser software with apps and settings, that’s it.

One cool thing about this OS is the fact that you can’t really mess around with it as much as you would on an Apple/Windows machine so chances of messing everything up are pretty slim.

I’d recommend this laptop for seniors with no physical limitations whatsoever and those who don’t plan to install specific games(you can play quite a lot of them though) or software in it. It’s cheap, fast, portable with an insane battery life.

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5. HP Pavilion 17.3-inch HD

 

17” HD+ Core i5 8th 8GB RAM 256GB SSD Windows 10

Lastly, the laptop with the biggest screen size out of the list and probably the best deal online as of 2020.

 Performance:  
Intel Core i5 8th , 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD Storage

Not saying this is the best and fastest laptop out there but it definitely  gives you the best bang for your buck. I’d never expect HP to do ever do this bu they’ve pulled it off. Not only have they managed to put in a 8th generation CPU on a 17 inch screen but it actually has the fastest  SSD type in it: PCIe NVme. All for ~500 bucks!

In layman term’s you are getting macbook like performance with a bigger screen size at a cheaper price. This one is actually a bit faster mainly due to its CPU.

 Sound:  

A reported problem with this model is that the speakers aren’t as loud as macbooks or high tier windows laptops. In the unlikely case, your senior loves to blast rock at full volume then you can buy a set of external speakers.

On the other hand, for anything else , be it watching videos or skyping…it shouldn’t be an issue.

 Keyboard:  
Keyboard quality isn’t great but it isn’t bad either, nothing remarkable. However, the fact that this is a 17” laptop means that the keys are well separated and haven’t been reduced in size to give you the illusion of having a full sized keyboard. Definitely would recommend this one for seniors with typing issues.

 Display:  
17 inch, HD+ (1600 x 900)

The display is nothing short of amazing. It basically has the same quality as the MacBook Air shown above with the added bonus that it’s just bigger.

17” screen is definitely the best options for those with vision impairments. A 17” is even more beneficial  for those with severe vision problems if you do the tweaks and change the settings as I will describe later.

The screen size is really the only reason why it made it to the list, yes, this thing is damn fast and ultracheap but most seniors can care less about it unless they’re into gaming and into other hardcore editing apps.

I personally love 17” laptops because I work at the computer pretty much all the time, that means, there will be less need for me to squint my eyes and more space for extreme multitasking.

 Operating System & Ease of Use: Windows 10

 Ports: SD Card Reader, x2 USB 3.0, x1 USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ-45, Headphone/Microphone jack, SuperMulti DVD burner

 Portability: 6.2 pounds , 4 hours

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How To Buy The Best Laptop For Seniors

There are many factors to take into consideration when shopping laptops for seniors. Not all seniors are created equal, they weren’t born seniors you know they were once young just like you so they’re preferences will always differ.

If you are a senior I think you can agree all seniors want is a comfortable, easy to use and troubleshoot free computer just like everyone else. Of course “comfortable and easy to use” depends on your senior friend.

Most seniors are well versed in technology and very few aren’t while most of them already have to deal with physical limitations. These are the factors we have to consider when buying any device for a senior.

Before Buying A Laptop

Ask Them

The first place to start is to ask them. You can save a lot of time by asking them what they want from a computer and what they find hard or difficult to manipulate in the computer they use or the ones they’ve used.

Otherwise you’ll fall into the trap of thinking age is related to less technology literacy, when in fact most seniors use computer technology to keep their sanity in check just like you and me especially to keep loneliness and isolation away. If that’s so then ergonomics and physical limitations is all you have to consider.

I know of an old lady (in her 70s) who plays one of the latest games and lead us and tell us how to play a bunch of us every night using voice chat.  Just ask, don’t assume. You never know what seniors are up to some of them might even be well versed in Linux.

Keeping The Same Set Up

If you want to save yourself some time, then it’s best for you to get the same up your senior is using. Most seniors, just like us, would rather continue keep using what they already found comfortable and something that works for them.

It’s best to retain familiarity as much as you can. If your senior uses Windows, then get a Windows machine, etc. Loves large screen display, then avoid iPad. It all depends. Some are used to full size keyboards rather than the small laptop keyboards so you may need a much bigger laptop that can replicate desktop size level keyboards. While others may not have trouble using smaller keyboards from laptops.

Do you have a back up?

If you do, I suggest you stick with the same operating system and try your best to set up everything as closely as possible to their main computer if they already had one.

If there’s no back up, you can always download or check their entire their set up. If not, have an expert install the exact same copy on their new device including files, settings, software and everything else. If the old system is broken, you can always recover what was stored in the hard drive too.

Activities

Besides the fact that a few of them love to program in FORTRAN, the majority of seniors just like your typical adult or teenager perform the same activities, mostly to keep in touch with their loved ones:

  • Heavy Email Usage & Web Browsing
  • Facebook
  • Banking management
  • Writing letters to their social groups or take noes for book clubs.
  • Skype and other video chat programs to keep in touch with you and their grandchildren (if you aren’t one).
  • Share, store and Print photos.

Performance

CPU & RAM

Performance and computer speed isn’t really an issue with these kind of activities unless your senior is a programmer, heavy photo editor or even a gamer (mine is).

To avoid getting frustrated with occasional hiccups and lag these activities may bring, look for a laptop with “4GB RAM or 8GB RAM”. Also avoid any CPU or processor labeled with the names “ATOM & Pentium”.

Storage

If you are an avid photographer or if your seniors loves to store family photos and keeping them neatly organized and safe, then invest on high storage capacities. Look for “256GB” as the minimum and if possible “512GB” if your budget allows.

Other than that storage might be an issue if your senior fellow has tons of photos and videos , in other words, an avid editor or recorder or simply likes to keep all the family photos on his computer in which case 256GB should be sufficient. Having 1 TB or 1000 GB would be even better but not all laptops offer these and you may never be able to use it fully.

Keep in mind 128GB for storage can store 16, 000 raw photos!

Physical Limitations

By the way computers are not the only department where their physical limitations restrict them from some technology. Others are secure packing, tiny prints on packing, black on black buttons on television devices and DVD players, small size buttons on mobile devices, etc.  So it’s not just laptops.

Consider this: your senior is likely to be a heavy email user but may suffer from hand movement problems and vision problems. So a decent keyboard, a decent mouse and good screen size will help a bit.

Weight

None of us would want to carry a heavyweight machine everywhere so if your senior plans on making his or her laptop portable to take anywhere, then opt for a laptop around 3lb.

Generally most of them will just use it around house in which case any decent weight should do, of course the less weight the better.

Keyboard

Unfortunately someone with hand movement issues and joint problems will have more difficulty hitting on screen keyboards than real keyboards. Often multiple keys will be pressed. Here’s a few other tips to consider:

  • TouchScreen  Keyboards such as iPads or other tablets devices are a nightmare for those with joint problems. Think how hard it is for us to type on it. Aim for full size keyboards and avoid very small size netbooks with cramped keyboards if there’s hand movement problems.
  • For those with vision problems and if your senior has a desktop or uses external keyboards, you can buy specialized keyboards from other companies that include vivid colors and large key labels like this one here.
  • As far as laptops go, very few have large buttons and letters and they’re usually from specialized companies making customized laptops for seniors.
  • Alternatively, you can always buy large stickers as show here and place them on the keyboard your senior is using.

Mouse

Switching from a mouse to a laptop touchpad can be brutal for any type of user and much more for seniors who deal with physical problems already. It will be one the major obstacles for your elderly person to use recent technology.

  • If your senior’s hands shake a lot,  a touchPad will be impossible to master especially when trying to stop the cursos on the screen.
  • Get a ball mouse like this one, these are easily manipulated by most of us and are not too sensitive for seniors with hand tremors. 

External Mouse and Keyboard on a Laptop

It might seem to defeat the point of having one but consider this if your senior already has a laptop and is dealing with hand issues. External devices can relieve a lot of physical problems as opposed to the ones on a laptop since you have a wide variety to choose from and are not as cramped as their laptop.

Stylus and Digital Pens

Just don’t buy one if your senior has hand problems or try to avoid one altogether unless your senior is sure to use them. They require a lot more hand eye coordination and are difficult to manipulate for those with joint problems.

Intelligent Assistants

Those voices robots you listen to in operating systems (cortana, siris, et) can speak too fast for seniors and they expect you to respond as fast. Don’t expect them to be useful for all seniors who want to launch tasks with voice.

Display & Sound

Eyesight & Hearing

  • A desktop or a large monitor may be more useful than a small laptop.  Though most notebooks include a port with an external monitor, this defeats the whole purpose of buying a laptop. Ideally you want to aim for large displays on laptops or buy a desktop instead.
  • Use the magnification feature from your Operating system regardless of what screen size you are using, it’s far more important since screen size will only allow you to fit in more stuff as opposed to make everything Here’s the set up of a senior with vision problems. 
  • A laptop’s speakers are not as powerful as a desktop’s so using them to distinguish what’s being said may be an issue. So try to pick a laptop with good audio quality. Most laptops out there have poor sound quality due their size being not good enough to fit it a sound system properly, large laptops will for the most part have better audio systems.
  • A headphone can solve any sound quality issue but is your senior up to it? You could also buy external speakers but then you’re making the device far too complicated for anyone to carry around and handle.

Screen Size

As mentioned before, screen size will not necessarily make things bigger but actually fit more stuff within the same screen. Grandpa still will have to deal with small fonts and windows and everything else unless you increase the size of everything yourself. How?

  • Go to the control panel –> adjust DPI –> increase it until you find something comfortable.
  • If not, press Windows Key + U and click the magnifier, then choose to increase the size by 25% everytiem you press Windows Key + “+”.
  • If your senior is dealing with more serious or specific conditions, then consider a specialized software for magnification.

Higher display systems have the advantage of having more stuff in the same screen without feeling too cramped this is beneficial for all seniors alike.

Resolution

It isn’t as important however higher resolutions displays will make everything easier on the eyes by making everything crystal clear. Full HD is a nice bonus but HD should be sufficient and more than enough. Higher resolutions are only for professionals who can actually distinguish pixel size details and have thick bottle bottom glasses. 

If your senior has vision problems display size and magnification are far more useful than resolution.

Matte Finish

Avoid Glossy screen if your senior is in bright setting areas or likes to use the computer outside with the sun clearly shining on the laptop’s screen! The reflections will cause great strain to his already aged eyes.

A Matte display will minimize this effect and be much more gentle on his eyesight altogether. Try to get one regardless of where your senior uses the computer.

Ease of Use

Computers were far more difficult to learn and use in the past. So it’s not seniors have a difficult time learning because of age. In fact, the latest research shows that the brain never stops developing.

They can easily pick up any technology or learn just about anything as long you as handle their physical limitations and avoid poorly designed technology when they already have to deal with many physical problems. 

Most seniors don’t have the patience to spend too much time dealing with minor stuff such as clicking this or that or having to go through tons of steps to check their email or any other basic tasks. It’s actually quite annoying but we don’t notice it because we have already grown with it.

In general (all of us actually) prefer systems that are straightforward,  have a clean layout with just the right amount of programs or features we need.

For seniors these can be: web browsing, email, Skype, Photo viewers and an interface to easily move around files or photos along with a simple to use document writer.

Don’t shift Operating Systems

Stick with whatever you are dealing with, nobody likes to spend countless of hours trying to re-learn an entire new environment especially if it’s entirely different than the one we had even for the simple stuff I just mentioned.

However if this is the first time they’re introduced to one or are having trouble with their current operating system, here’s what you need to know about what each OS has to offer for the elderly or seniors.

Windows

Pros

  • All windows systems (the latest ones) come with Microsoft Ease of Access, you can use the magnifier feature and the narrator screen reader if you think your going to need it. These two features keep improving with each version so it’s a good idea to land the latest OS they currently have.
  • The main advantage of windows is the availability of options when buying hardware and the access to tons of software you’ll have.

Cons

  • Difficult to maintain requires to be updated consistently.
  • The main disadvantage out of all other software is the fact that windows is targeted by spammers, crackers viruses, etc. So it takes more work to maintain than other OS however if your senior’s happy with it I’m sure you can put up with fixing it from time to time. 

Software for Windows

As mentioned the advantage of using windows is the availability of all kinds of software. Comapnies target Windows when making specialized software for seniors. For example:

HomeTouch A software extremely helpful to keep elders connected to caregivers and family members. It’s paid but worth a look at. It’s won a few awards for its utility and service. Useful if you have a senior member in your family that’s constantly on the computer but also needs a carer from time to time to come in and help (available in Europe).

Email

If your senior is fine with web based email such as Gmail, then theres nothing to learn. Otherwise look for more friendly alternatives: MS OutLook, AOL (includes instant messanging), kids email and pawpawmail designed for grandpas.

Most stable OS & User Friendly Windows Version

If your senior doesn’t have the need  to use accessibility options or rely too much on it but rather would love to have an OS that gives the least amount of trouble shooting (I am sure you do as well) and just works straightforward, then you may  want to give Windows XP a try (yes even in 2017).

Go find an original new copy of windows and install it on his laptop, you’ll be amazed by how wonderful and easy to use the XP is.

ChromeOS

Pros

  • Starts up in seconds
  • Everything you do is saved and synced with the cloud (online storage)
  • No updates or tools to maintain it (fragment hard drives, etc).
  • No viruses
  • Tons of apps on the chrome app store, more than just games.
  • Better recovery system : you can restore every file you had.
  • There are updates but you won’t notice them and no need to restart the system when they show up.
  • Cheaper and easily replaceable. They don’t cost much indeed.

Cons

  • Lack of complete software like Windows or Macs
  • Limited to web browsing and document editors as far as software goes.
  • Chromebooks often come with small screen sizes but nothing magnification can’t solve as it is also available on web browsers and chrome.

Simplicity

Chromebooks are simple and straightforward to use. There’s not much of a learning curve other than learning how to remove and install apps from the store. Chrome OS is simple and very hard (if not impossible) to mess up.

Mac OS X

Pros

  • Comes already installed on every MAC no need to buy a copy
  • Constantly upgraded for free and forever, no need for extra purchases.
  • More aimed towards accessibility: as you soon as you turn it on, you have the option to use “Voice Over” a native screen reader along a tutorial on how to use it.
  • Make your own shortcuts for specific tasks with their trackpads (useful for the visualy impaired) , so you won’t have to press multiple keys to open a windows, bring up the task manager, etc.
  • No viruses
  • Apple is more visually appealing (yeah I know) but it may be something to consider to women who’d like to have a more clean and neat look around the house.

Here’s a more complete guide on how to set up a Mac for a Senior.

Cons

  • Less availability of software 
  • Most seniors use Windows so yours will have trouble adapting and sharing stuff with their community
  • Pricey

Ubuntu/Linux

Pros

  • Linux distros are useful to bring up an older machine back to life.
  • Simple operating system (like Chrome) straightforward and less demanding on a computer making it faster.
  • Tons of distros to choose from. Some are particularly built for specific audiences such as seniors. Here’s a complete list.
  • Less viruses and errors (from software) if you choose the right distro (version).

 

Cons

  • Takes a while to find the right configuration and set up as most distros may be imcompatible with the device you have.
  • If your senior has a community that revolves around windows users, then it may not be such a good idea to uniquely have him use Linux all the way or even a Mac.

Windows, Mac, Chrome, Linux?

Take all the considerations above, find something suitable and the most user friendly OS there is. Install a good antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware if required, firefox or chrome and most important learn to use remote desktop so you can fix the machine remotely anywhere any time and you’ll have happy senior.

Design & Quality

Seniors may have lost some physical abilities but that also includes the patience to deal with stuff that doesn’t work properly. So aim for well designed and high quality laptops. Don’t set out to buy the cheapest one of the store (unless of course it’s highly known to be trouble free). Otherwise you may end up with low quality keyboards, sound systems and an entirely useless device for your senior.

Customer Support

Make sure the brand you choose has great support even if you buy senior friendly laptops from unknown brands out there. Take the amazon kindle for example, it has a built in button that will bring a live expert to help you deal with any issues you may have and it’s not even a device  targeted for seniors.

While we all love to have that kind of tech support just make sure yours is actually good and ok to take on phone calls regularly to deal with troubleshooting.

Why bother?

It may come in handy when you’re not available to help your senior or if your senior can’t fix it himself ( like every computer user out there). We all need tech support from time to time.

However is rather difficult to figure out which one has the best or who to believe.

But pretty much everyone agrees Apple having the best tech support out there (rightly so with the money you are paying for!).  You can sign in forums ask online users and Apple will give you a reply pretty soon which most of the time includes easy to follow instructions. Phone service is also great.

Anyways, here’s a study  that might come in handy. From bad to worst.

Desktop Computers

I assume you already made the decision of buying a laptop for the portability. If not a desktop would be a much better choice for both ergonomics and more comfortable (and cheaper) overall.  The reason, the display is better, it needs a keyboard which you can customized and an external mouse too. The AARP has recommended HP as the brand to go for when choosing computers or workstations especially designed for seniors with physical limitations, you can check out their products here if you think a computer will benefit you (or your elderly senior).

Laptop vs. Desktop

The number one reason of having a laptop over any other device is the ability to use full blown software and be able to take it anywhere something you can’t do with a desktop, tablet, phone or whatever technology brings these days. It should be the number one thing to consider when buying a computer device for your senior.

Ergonomics

In reality, laptops are the worst type of device for ergonomics especially the small sized ones. The screen, keyboard and mouse (touchpad) are too cramped and in not very good position for posture. Especially the touch-pad can present a problem for seniors with joint problems & hand tremors.

In some cases, you might need an external keyboard and a separate mouse to make it more user friendly for them which will turn out to be a desktop itself. That’s why portability should be the number one reason why you are even shopping for a laptop.

Desktops are cheaper, can be repaired faster and they last longer. This one in particular is especially designed with seniors in mind and a pretty well known brand.

Laptop or Tablets For Seniors

Ipads & Tablets

  • They have revolutionized the industry by making them extremely accessible to everyone.
  • It’s a great way to introduce anyone to  the tech world , this might be useful if your senior is extremely old and hasn’t use a computer in a long time as it requires less manual dexterity & technical skills than other devices.
  • But you can’t really install any software in it and most seniors might find it useless if they wish to do anything serious with it. Think word processing, editing photos or using spreadsheets.
  • Sometimes you have to put all of your credit card info for access to app store, that’s like giving you credit card to anyone who asks for it.
  • If your senior friend has tons of fun with it and is limited to web browsing, reading emails, and watching videos. It’s a great choice.

Latop vs Tablets: Software

The main thing to consider when shopping for tablets for seniors is the software they will use:

Skype : Android tablets are no good for skype. The iPad however it’s a great option.

Web surfing: all tablets can do that no problem but flashed based websites, iPad might present problems.

Emails: tablets are not practical for long emails, maybe short messages but a Bluetooth keyboard will solve that issue.

Reading: There’s no better device than a tablet for reading. If you think about it, it actually becomes a book you can just turn the pages with a swipe, take it anywhere and position it anyplace perhaps to follow any instructions  (leaned against a wall/object). It’s just like a book all over again which we are all used to anyways.

Where is the tablet not so good for seniors?

  • Editing images, looking up documents, transferring photos and files from cameras and other devices.
  • Any software for tablets is downgraded in terms of performance and features from the full version used in laptops and desktops.

When is a tablet a good option for seniors?

While most seniors and even your elderly parents are quite acquianted with technology, there are a few who aren’t and  may unfortunately not be very eager to use today’s computers or devices. This is the rare case where a tablet might be a better option to introduce your senior to computer devices and what they can do for them. You can get an idea of what kind of tablet or ipad to get from the AARP RealPad Android just keep in mind is not your only choice many seniors are quite happy with Apple’s line of products too.

Other brands

Telikin: primarily for desktop computers. Has been around for several years.

Claris Companion: tablets designed for the elderly, has more features than a regular tablet for seniors including phones, passive monitoring device, picture frame,etc.

Bottom Line

Whatever your choice is, make sure you get a device that is both comfortable and is easily accessible to the internet. The advantage of the technology today is being connected to the world after all.

Research has shown that those who stay connected, especially seniors, with their relatives and loved one live much longer and healthier lives. And if you do your proper research and pick the right device, your senior can happily enjoy his time being connected as well.

Taking all these specs into account ideally we would want:

  1. 8GB RAM (4GB min)
  2. 256GB storage (for photos and videos or movies or the latest marathon of…)
  3. Any modern processor
  4. Huge display is optional/ Full HD resolution for clarity but HD is fine as well. Matte finish a huge bonus.
  5. Great keyboard (large key labels are optional)
  6. Great sound quality system if no headphones around the house!

Optional:

  1. Weight and battery do not matter if your senior will use the laptop around the house, otherwise portable’s at 3.0lb-4lb
  2. Ports: HDMI and USB at a min for cameras and external displays/devices in other words avoid ultra ultra books like the new MacBook or 10 inch netbooks.

Comments?

If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know. We want to make our seniors as comfortable as possible. After all it’s thanks to them we even have computers to play around with today and all the technology we see around us.