What should I look for in a laptop for my mom?

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
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I haven't bought a laptop in 6+ years (Win 7, Intel 4th Gen 'Broadwell') so no idea what new features are out there.

My mom currently has a 10+ yr old 17.3" (1600 x 900) laptop with 60gig hard drive that's running out of room.
I could replace the hd with a 256gig ssd but she wants a touch screen.

Her uses:
email, surfing the web, light Word and Excel

Requirements:
Touch screen, 1600 x 900 resolution or better, minimum 15.6" because she can't see that well, Windows (not apple)

Questions:
1) Have TN screens improved? or stick with IPS?
2) I'm assuming any onboard graphics chip will do?
3) How easy is it to wipe/reinstall Win10 to get rid of the bloatware?
4) what's your opinion on Backlit keyboards?

Other suggestions?
 
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ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
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After my experience with my also 10 years old, Core2Duo laptop, the most important thing in mainstream laptop (browsing, video streaming, office stuff) is SSD and 8GB+ of RAM. The rest can follow.

Onboard graphics is more than enough IMO as current generation chip has plenty horsepower to play any kind of codec up to 4k60 quality.

For getting rid Win10 bloatware, I think somebody else has posted it in Windows sub-section few days ago.

I think for older people, white backlit keyboard will be fine.
 
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UsandThem

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1) Have TN screens improved? or stick with IPS?

A laptop having an IPS / 1080P screen is the only way to go. While I'm sure there are some decent TN panels out there, the ones I've seen are lacking compared to an IPS screen.
2) I'm assuming any onboard graphics chip will do?
Absolutely.
3) How easy is it to wipe/reinstall Win10 to get rid of the bloatware?
Pretty easy depending on the manufacturer. If you get something like a Dell, you really only need to uninstall a few apps. It's really not bad at all.
4) what's your opinion on Backlit keyboards?
If she is going to use it in a dark(er) area away from direct light, a backlit keyboard makes it a lot easier to see the keys. That's another "minimum requirement" when I look at laptops.
 
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VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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but she wants a touch screen.
No, trust me. She wants a wireless trackball. (Logitech still makes these, look for "Wireless Trackman", I think.) Anything BUT those annoying laptop touch-PADs.

Edit: If you DO opt for the "touch-screen", don't be surprised, when the screen gets nicks and dirt on it, 2-3 years down the line or more, that she keeps calling you up, complaining that her computer is "phantom clicking" all over the place.

Not to mention, you need to constantly clean the screen on a touch-screen, and heaven help you, if it ever needs re-calibration (can happen).
 
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VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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the most important thing in mainstream laptop (browsing, video streaming, office stuff) is SSD and 8GB+ of RAM. The rest can follow.
This, totally! Plus, Ryzen 4000-series Mobile APUs are coming out, REAL SOON NOW. Get one of those for her. Those have the newest 7nm APUs (*first AMD APUs on 7nm, besides the upcoming consoles),, which are extremely power-efficient and powerful.

Make sure that it has 8/16GB of DDR4, and a 256/512GB NVMe SSD in it, and you're probably going to be "good to go", for the next 10 years. That's a pretty-powerful piece of kit.

Or scrounge around, for a last-Gen Ryzen 5 3500U (4C/8T) Mobile APU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB or possible 512GB NVMe SSD. I picked one up last BF-esqe / Christmas for $300 +tax on a Hot Deal from Office Depot. Still unopened, btw. Normal price was around $400-500 for something like this.

If you wanted a new laptop CHEAP, Walmart's got some $110 "Ematic" (house brand) laptops, that take a SATA M.2 SSD (possible NVMe x1 as well). Their onboard audio and wifi sucks (or my unit was defective). These defects can be fixed, with an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, and a $10 ebay-special Comfast AC wifi+BT w/antenna dongle. The one with the A4-9120 Radeon R5 (advertised), but really with A4-9120e Radeon R3 (actual).

But as something that's both at the same time "modern" (4GB RAM, 2C/2T Stoney Ridge APU with Excavator core, 64GB eMMC with M.2 SATA expansion slot, mediocre battery life, 4-5 hours at best), and at the same time, relatively "disposable" (only $110, if it breaks, well, oh well).

It runs kind of so-so with Windows 10 on the eMMC (no bloat though, that I can see), but it runs really splendid with Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon 64-bit installed to an M.2 SATA SSD. Nice and perky. (They do have Skype for Linux too, btw. So you can keep in touch.)

Oh, the most important part - that $110 Ematic laptop from Walmart with the A4-9120 (advertised), also has a 1080P IPS screen (really!). That's one of the few good things about it.


Another possibility, if she MUST have a touch-screen, would be a Win10 Tablet. This HP is supposed to be good, don't know if it's still available, or at what price. It was $80 for a time.

 
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ao_ika_red

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Aug 11, 2016
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he one with the A4-9120 Radeon R5 (advertised), but really with A4-9120e Radeon R3 (actual).

But as something that's both at the same time "modern" (4GB RAM, 2C/2T Stoney Ridge APU with Excavator core, 64GB eMMC with M.2 SATA expansion slot, mediocre battery life, 4-5 hours at best), and at the same time, relatively "disposable" (only $110, if it breaks, well, oh well).
For 2020, Stoney ridge is a junk. I can't believe AMD is still selling it. Athlon 300u is a way better option but their pricing is still inside 2200u territory and that annoys me.
 

Steltek

Platinum Member
Mar 29, 2001
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I haven't bought a laptop in 6+ years (Win 7, Intel 4th Gen 'Broadwell') so no idea what new features are out there.

My mom currently has a 10+ yr old 17.3" (1600 x 900) laptop with 60gig hard drive that's running out of room.
I could replace the hd with a 256gig ssd but she wants a touch screen.

Her uses:
email, surfing the web, light Word and Excel

Requirements:
Touch screen, 1600 x 900 resolution or better, minimum 15.6" because she can't see that well, Windows (not apple)

Questions:
1) Have TN screens improved? or stick with IPS?
2) I'm assuming any onboard graphics chip will do?
3) How easy is it to wipe/reinstall Win10 to get rid of the bloatware?
4) what's your opinion on Backlit keyboards?

Other suggestions?
If she doesn't see that well and if she uses the machine at a desk or table, I'd say stick with a 17" laptop. That is what my 73 year old mother uses, and it suits her well. She is ambivalent about the backlit keyboard, but I do think it helps her with her declining vision (even if she won't admit to it).

And, VirtualLarry is right about touchscreens. I can honestly say I have never once worked on a laptop with a touchscreen where the owner didn't express regret at having chosen that screen. Period. And, when it comes down to the cost of replacing the screen after a year or two versus disabling the touch feature in Device Manager, my experience is 100% of owners will opt to just disable it (unless the screen is just so scratched up you just have to replace either it or the laptop).

Those mobile Ryzen 4000 based APUs are probably going to power some of the best laptops that have hit the market in ages - the specs are looking just that good. I normally wouldn't consider a 2-n-1 laptop (touchscreen aside), but I'm going to look seriously at them upon this release. If you aren't in a hurry to do this right away, it might be worth waiting. If nothing else, prices should drop on prior gen laptops at that time so you might score a good deal there as well.
 
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VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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For 2020, Stoney ridge is a junk. I can't believe AMD is still selling it. Athlon 300u is a way better option but their pricing is still inside 2200u territory and that annoys me.
OP never gave us a budget amount, but when you can get complete Stoney Ridge laptops, with 1080P IPS screens, and "acceptable" 4GB/64GB configs, for just over $100 new, and Athlon 300U (Picasso? Certainly Zen-based) laptops, with similar specs (though usually with a "real" SSD, and not eMMC), are pretty-much double or more the price. ($250 for the Motile Athlon 300U/3200U 14" laptop at Walmart.)

Just giving him some options. OP can read more of my thoughts on the $110 Stoney laptop on that Hot Deals thread. (I bought multiples, mostly due to price.)
 

ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
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OP never gave us a budget amount, but when you can get complete Stoney Ridge laptops, with 1080P IPS screens, and "acceptable" 4GB/64GB configs, for just over $100 new, and Athlon 300U (Picasso? Certainly Zen-based) laptops, with similar specs (though usually with a "real" SSD, and not eMMC), are pretty-much double or more the price. ($250 for the Motile Athlon 300U/3200U 14" laptop at Walmart.)

Just giving him some options. OP can read more of my thoughts on the $110 Stoney laptop on that Hot Deals thread. (I bought multiples, mostly due to price.)
For $100 it certainly is good value, especially after AT's Coda Spirit review. But, it's more appropriate for first time PC user, not for someone who presumably already used PC for decades.

I guess OP's budget is more likely north of $500, considering OP's question about touch screen, backlit keyoboard, FHD dispay, etc.
 

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
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OP never gave us a budget amount, but when you can get complete Stoney Ridge laptops, with 1080P IPS screens, and "acceptable" 4GB/64GB configs, for just over $100 new, and Athlon 300U (Picasso? Certainly Zen-based) laptops, with similar specs (though usually with a "real" SSD, and not eMMC), are pretty-much double or more the price. ($250 for the Motile Athlon 300U/3200U 14" laptop at Walmart.)

Just giving him some options. OP can read more of my thoughts on the $110 Stoney laptop on that Hot Deals thread. (I bought multiples, mostly due to price.)
her old laptop is 60gigs and she's out of space.
so 64gig storage in the new one isn't going to cut it


For $100 it certainly is good value, especially after AT's Coda Spirit review. But, it's more appropriate for first time PC user, not for someone who presumably already used PC for decades.

I guess OP's budget is more likely north of $500, considering OP's question about touch screen, backlit keyoboard, FHD dispay, etc.
yeah $400-$500 budget.
touchscreen, ips, 1600x900 minimum, 15.6" minimum
backlit is optional
 
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ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
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yeah $500 budget.
touchscreen, ips, 1600x900 minimum, 15.6" minimum
backlit is optional
After quite lengthy thread, have you considered some candidate? So we can start to give our opinion about them because I personally can't help picking from your preferred e-store / microcenter because I live outside the US.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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I forgot to mention (in this thread), that the $110 laptop in question has an access panel on the bottom, for adding an M.2 SATA (and possibly PCI-E x1 NVMe) SSD. So, strictly-speaking space-wise, one could add an SSD "suit to taste".
 
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JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
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After quite lengthy thread, have you considered some candidate? So we can start to give our opinion about them because I personally can't help picking from your preferred e-store / microcenter because I live outside the US.
thx for reminding me about microcenter!

here's a refurbished Lenovo IdeaPad i3-8145U with touchscreen and IPS for $360:
https://www.microcenter.com/product/615804/lenovo-ideapad-s340-15-iwl-156-laptop-computer-refurbished---black

seems like a great price?
 
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VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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only dual-core, and 4GB out of the 8GB RAM is soldered on? $350 for refurb? I think that you can do better, honestly. Look for some discounted 4C/8T (possibly w/o touchscreen) Ryzen 2500U / 3500U last-gen laptops. Look for something "New" for $350 or less.
 

UsandThem

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May 4, 2000
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only dual-core, and 4GB out of the 8GB RAM is soldered on? $350 for refurb? I think that you can do better, honestly. Look for some discounted 4C/8T (possibly w/o touchscreen) Ryzen 2500U / 3500U last-gen laptops. Look for something "New" for $350 or less.
Yup, do not do a dual core CPU in 2020. While it sounds like your mother is far from a power user, at least get a quad core CPU or higher.

Also, don't forget about Dell Outlet. That's where I've bought my last 4 laptops, and they all have been practically brand new.....and they come with a 1 year warranty (just like when bought new).

https://www.dell.com/en-us/dfh/shop/dell-refurbished/cp/outlet-deals-dfh?~ck=mn
 

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
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Yup, do not do a dual core CPU in 2020. While it sounds like your mother is far from a power user, at least get a quad core CPU or higher.

Also, don't forget about Dell Outlet. That's where I've bought my last 4 laptops, and they all have been practically brand new.....and they come with a 1 year warranty (just like when bought new).

https://www.dell.com/en-us/dfh/shop/dell-refurbished/cp/outlet-deals-dfh?~ck=mn
the only touchscreen they currently have is a Inspiron 15” 3000 (3593) which is a dual core (Intel Core 10th Generation i3-1005G1 Processor)

so just wait till a quad appears?
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
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the only touchscreen they currently have is a Inspiron 15” 3000 (3593) which is a dual core (Intel Core 10th Generation i3-1005G1 Processor)

so just wait till a quad appears?
If you're not in rush, I would.

Their inventory changes throughout the day, so I'd imagine they'd have something that checks all your boxes within a few days.
 

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
25,935
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If you're not in rush, I would.

Their inventory changes throughout the day, so I'd imagine they'd have something that checks all your boxes within a few days.
thx.

not in a rush, else I would take microcenter's $360 dual core refurb laptop.
 

ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
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For $500, I think it will hard to get quad cores with alll the bells and whistles. As I said earlier, the most important thing is having SSD or even just m.2 slot that can be filled with NVME / SATA SSD in the future while having 2 slot of RAM is a really nice bonus because you can upgrade it up to 16 / 32 GB in the future. At current gen, you may consider 3300u / 3500u from AMD or 10110u / 10210u from Intel. But both company are expected to release new generation of CPU this year which will offer noticable performance uplift.

edit: I notice Intel's newest i5-1035G1 is already in the wild. One of them is Dell Inspiron 14 3493 with tasty 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD (I think it's 2.5" SSD so it will be quite tricky to upgrade it in the future). And it only has 14" screen and no touchscreen nor backlit keyboard.
 
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UsandThem

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For $500, I think it will hard to get quad cores with alll the bells and whistles.
Dell Outlet currently has several fairly loaded models around $550. 10th gen i5/i7, NVMe, 1080P touch screen, etc.

If he keeps an eye out, I'm sure they have some options pop up there right at $500 after the coupon code. Plus, factor in a higher cash-back bonus that Rakuten offers for short periods (10% - 15%), although it's currently only at 2% at Dell Outlet, but is 10% at Dell's normal consumer site.
 

ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
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Dell Outlet currently has several fairly loaded models around $550. 10th gen i5/i7, NVMe, 1080P touch screen, etc.

If he keeps an eye out, I'm sure they have some options pop up there right at $500 after the coupon code. Plus, factor in a higher cash-back bonus that Rakuten offers for short periods (10% - 15%), although it's currently only at 2% at Dell Outlet, but is 10% at Dell's normal consumer site.
In your experience, how upgrade friendly Dell laptop is?
 

killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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dell laptops have been good to me, very easy to upgrade of course. i had to take apart a sata drive to fit it with out downgrading my battery size but that was the only issue i saw with upgrades. :) buy your mum a 600$ laptop!! dont cheap out or at least a 400$ laptop and upgrade it a little.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
47,594
4,797
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I had several Dell laptops, and all of them have been decent build quality, even their lower-end N2830 Celeron (Atom) models. Easy upgradability with SATA and RAM access panel, etc. Very nice to work on.
 

ankit213506

Junior Member
Mar 18, 2020
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If she is a working woman then gift her a good laptop. You can buy the latest processor with a high level of RAM or ROM. But if she is not then you can gift her normal laptop. like you can go for the i3 processor. this will also come in budget.
 

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