Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

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Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby jefmafnl » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:44 am

My mother-in-law, 90, is probably going to move from her house into a small (studio) assisted living unit in the next few weeks.

She has used a Windows PC (XP or 2000?) for E-mail only, via AOL, for about 9 years. She mailed regularly,
but was not comfortable going beyond what she knew how to do.

Her new place doesn't really have room for a desktop computer, and I don't know if she's up to the
(admittedly not super-steep) learning curve of an iPad.

Is there a dedicated laptop-like device for E-mail that has a physical keyboard and that would allow her to bypass Windows?

Thanks!

J
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby LadyGeek » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:13 pm

I helped my mother-in-law with a similar situation, who needed to replace her 8 year old PC (Win XP) and is a long-time AOL user. She had purchased a Dell desktop and asked me to help her with it. I was surprised how small this new Dell was compared to the "old" desktop.

To make a very long story short, there was no way I could convince my mother-in-law to use anything but AOL. I tried. I tried again. Nope. She likes AOL for reasons which I don't understand (it looks nicer and she doesn't have to do anything to get it working), but this is her PC and it's more important that she's comfortable using it.

Although AOL installed it's hooks into everything it's grubby little applications can find, she's very happy running Windows 8 with AOL.

My recommendation: A small footprint PC with a USB keyboard and flat screen monitor. She may have difficulty with a laptop, as enabling an external display is more work and she may not want to deal with it.

Windows 7 will also work, if you can find one. Remember that everything under the sun works with Windows. You don't want to be remote tech support, this gets old fast.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby jeffyscott » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:32 pm

Does she do email jsut from the website or is she downloading to outlook or something like that?

If she using the web, she would not need windows but otherwise she would. And even if she is using the web, what browser is she using? If she is used to IE, then you would still need to have windows for that. I would want to minimize the changes and if what she is currently doing does require windows, I would probably just get a windows 7 laptop to minimize the changes.

I'd for this at Dell, Lenovo, and HP outlets. If a glossy screen is acceptable, Dell has refurbished as low as $225 (though that one is windows 8), Lenovo $206, matte screen (business) models are a bit more.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby telemark » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:20 pm

I don't know an obviously right answer. I'm a fan of the Samsung Chromebook, partly because the hardware and operating system are designed to work together. But I don't know how well it works with AOL, although it should be possible to access her AOL address from Gmail. Does she touch type or is she a two-fingered typist? Can she use a mouse, or do her hands shake? Would she be comfortable with a small screen?

Oh, and possibly most important -- is there someone there who can help her with learning to use it?
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby stan1 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:30 pm

I went through this with my mom.

My advice is to find a place for the desktop PC and don't change anything she's comfortable with.

By the time you add a full size keyboard and monitor to a laptop its going to take up as much space as a desktop.

Buy a small desk or table at IKEA or at a garage sale/craigslist/freecycle. She probably has a small table in her home now she could take with her to the assisted living unit.

One more point: a solid table gives her something else to grab onto as she moves around the unit unless she is in a wheelchair. My mom likes to have a path around the room where she can always keep her hand on a piece of furniture.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby northernisland » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:42 pm

She might even be the perfect candidate for one of the all-in-one machines, where the desktop is built into the monitor. Something like 21" with a keyboard and mouse and an easy icon that would connect her straight to her email account. It would be a similar footprint to the laptop and easier for her eyes. Ladygeek's advice about letting her keep AOL sounds reasonable too.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby dm200 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:12 pm

jefmafnl wrote:My mother-in-law, 90, is probably going to move from her house into a small (studio) assisted living unit in the next few weeks.

She has used a Windows PC (XP or 2000?) for E-mail only, via AOL, for about 9 years. She mailed regularly,
but was not comfortable going beyond what she knew how to do.

Her new place doesn't really have room for a desktop computer, and I don't know if she's up to the
(admittedly not super-steep) learning curve of an iPad.

Is there a dedicated laptop-like device for E-mail that has a physical keyboard and that would allow her to bypass Windows?

Thanks!

J

Does the assisted living facility have a shared computer area? If you have not already done so, I suggest checking out such capabilities.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby ourbrooks » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:53 pm

dm200 wrote:
jefmafnl wrote:My mother-in-law, 90, is probably going to move from her house into a small (studio) assisted living unit in the next few weeks.

She has used a Windows PC (XP or 2000?) for E-mail only, via AOL, for about 9 years. She mailed regularly,
but was not comfortable going beyond what she knew how to do.

Her new place doesn't really have room for a desktop computer, and I don't know if she's up to the
(admittedly not super-steep) learning curve of an iPad.

Is there a dedicated laptop-like device for E-mail that has a physical keyboard and that would allow her to bypass Windows?

Thanks!

J

Does the assisted living facility have a shared computer area? If you have not already done so, I suggest checking out such capabilities.

+1

If the assisted living facility is part of a continuing care community, with an independent living unit, I'd ask what the people there use. If nothing else, using what other people use increases the odds that people there will be able to help her out; some people in retirement communities make a hobby of helping other people in the community use computers.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby LadyGeek » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:10 pm

^^^ This is good advice. My mother-in-law is in an assisted living facility that has a "computer center" and there is someone available to help with support. She likes to use her own PC because it's in her apartment and under her control.

If it's nothing more than email, that might be an option. Consider that it would be a public PC and she'd be saving her files on it.

My mother-in-law is savvy enough to recognize that personal info should not go on the community PC. Running strange software, not so savvy.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby frugaltype » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:01 am

I'm not grasping why a laptop running XP, which would look just like her current environment, is not a solution? I have a Thinkpad. The keyboard is comparable to a separate keyboard; the display is just slightly smaller than my old desktop monitor.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby cjking » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:05 am

One of my computers is a "desktop pc" (in fact a Zotac Zbox nettop) that takes zero floor/table space, since I have it mounted on the back of my plasma TV. It actually comes with a bracket to enable mounting it on the back of a monitor. One of these with a standard monitor, USB keyboard and USB mouse is functionally identical to a "normal" floor-standing or desktop PC.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby dm200 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:12 pm

LadyGeek wrote:^^^ This is good advice. My mother-in-law is in an assisted living facility that has a "computer center" and there is someone available to help with support. She likes to use her own PC because it's in her apartment and under her control.

If it's nothing more than email, that might be an option. Consider that it would be a public PC and she'd be saving her files on it.

My mother-in-law is savvy enough to recognize that personal info should not go on the community PC. Running strange software, not so savvy.


Flash drives are a very practical and inexpensive way of keeping files private when using a public computer. If the facility does not actually have an actual 'computer center', it might also be possible that some other residents might be willing to share their computers. Or, if a physically small computer can be set up for her to use, having some other residents share hers (and help each other out) might be a win-win solution.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby Rupert » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:18 pm

She sounds exactly like the kind of person the Google Chromebook was designed for. If she'd even consider a switch to Gmail (which is easier to use than AOL), you should pitch it to her.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby LadyGeek » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:28 pm

dm200 wrote:Flash drives are a very practical and inexpensive way of keeping files private when using a public computer.

I agree, but my mother-in-law has more than enough difficulty to figure out how to use explorer. Changing application settings (AOL default storage folder?) is not a realistic possibility.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby longview » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:18 pm

I know you said physical keyboard... but I gave my mom an iPad and she loves it. She can use it from bed/don't need to get around, she can zoom in on things very easily, and she enjoys the card games I put on it. It's very virus/cruft proof, and the mail app is simple. Her computer got so bogged down with various things over time it was insane.

If you go this route, the iPad 2 is lighter than the newer iPads... and I think you can get refurbs very cheaply these days.
(To color my comments: my situation is ER trying to make a large portfolio that is 99% taxable last 45 years)
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby Rodc » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:51 pm

frugaltype wrote:I'm not grasping why a laptop running XP, which would look just like her current environment, is not a solution? I have a Thinkpad. The keyboard is comparable to a separate keyboard; the display is just slightly smaller than my old desktop monitor.


My thought as well.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby enebyberg » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:19 pm

MacBook Air. You can't get lighter or easier to use.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby Minot » Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:57 pm

longview wrote:I know you said physical keyboard... but I gave my mom an iPad and she loves it. .
I'm 76, and I gave myself and iPad and I hate it--or at least I hate typing on it, and I hardly use it; still much prefer my laptop PC. It does get harder to learn to use new stuff as we get older. Also, if she has any vision issues, the smaller screens may not be a good idea. I notice, even though my vision si still quite adequate, I'm more likely to increase font size than I used to be.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby Rodc » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:17 pm

Minot wrote:
longview wrote:I know you said physical keyboard... but I gave my mom an iPad and she loves it. .
I'm 76, and I gave myself and iPad and I hate it--or at least I hate typing on it, and I hardly use it; still much prefer my laptop PC. It does get harder to learn to use new stuff as we get older. Also, if she has any vision issues, the smaller screens may not be a good idea. I notice, even though my vision si still quite adequate, I'm more likely to increase font size than I used to be.


Along the lines of eyes, my 87 year old mom bought a new Mac laptop with a retina screen and it greatly helped over her previous rather old Mac as far as easy of reading, and it allowed her to reduce the font to have more on the screen at any given time.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby jefmafnl » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:11 pm

Belated thanks to all who replied. For the time being we're going to see if she can use the shared computer in a common area.

J
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby Sunny Sarkar » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:52 pm

Samsung Chromebook would be perfect IMO. She logs in using her google id, and when she clicks the gmail button, she'll be right there (already logged in). Better than Windows login, then open browser, then go to gmail.com, then log into gmail... you get the idea. Plus it's absolutely perfect in size (small) and weight (**very** light) as a small portable laptop. It's cheap too - only $250.
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Re: Dedicated e-mail device for Mom (90)

Postby woof755 » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:46 pm

"By singing in harmony from the same page of the same investing hymnal, the Diehards drown out market noise."

--Jason Zweig, quoted in The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing
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