Comparing features is important when shopping for computers for seniors. Of course, price is also important, but for now I want to focus on some of the various features. Depending on the specific person, some features may be more important than others. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Touch screen. This is probably the biggest “wow” factor. A lot of people, not just seniors, have trouble working with a mouse. My own mother is in this category. She just can’t seem to “get it”. A touch screen on the other hand is the ultimate in simplicity – if you can reach out and touch something with your finger, you’ve pretty much got the interface mastered. As with most features, there is an additional cost. Depending on the brand and model, the difference between a touch screen and a non-touch screen is anywhere from $150 to $300.
All in one. If the computer is an “all in one”, it means that the computer and the monitor (screen) is one unit. The computer “brains” are installed inside the monitor itself instead of in a separate box. This can be important for two reasons – 1) It results in a simpler and easier setup and 2) There may not be enough physical space for a separate processor box.
Flexibility and Configurability. This can be an important software feature for some, and a nightmare for others. The more flexibility a computer has and the more you can configure it and change, it the more knowledge is needed. This is probably the number one reason non-computer literate people shy away of them altogether – they don’t have the knowledge, and they have no desire to learn it – they just want to use the computer without knowing anything about the inner workings.
Operating System. If you’re not familiar with computers, this one may be a complete mystery to you. A computer’s operating system (OS) is the software (programming) that enables the computer to function. It controls and keeps track of the various pieces of hardware (monitor, keyboad, mouse, etc.) and is what allows other programs, called applications (“apps” for short), to run and utilize the hardware. Two of the most popular operating systems are Windows and Linux. They are both excellent operating systems and each have their own following. Due to the enormous popularity of Windows, it is a common target for viruses and hackers. This means that extra software must be installed to help protect the system. Linux on the other hand is much more immune because of it’s lesser popularity so there are far fewer viruses targeting Linux systems.
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