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Ask Slashdot: Using a Tablet As a Sole Computing Device? 417

cashman73 writes "My mother's six year old desktop computer finally bit the dust due to an electrical surge. It's out-of-warranty, and not really worth fixing. Plus, I'm 2,500 miles and two time zones away, so I can't exactly troubleshoot things from here. I recently got a new tablet, and even 80% of the things I do are done easier with it. Plus, she really likes the size, convenience, portability, and the screen. Virtually everything she does is simple web browsing, email, light photo sharing but no heavy editing, and other simple tasks. We're thinking that using a tablet as her sole 'computer' might be the best solution here. What are other Slashdotter's experiences using tablets without a separate desktop computer?"
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Ask Slashdot: Using a Tablet As a Sole Computing Device?

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  • Chromebook (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:49PM (#42489845) Homepage

    Buy her a Chromebook. You won't be sorry.

    • Re:Chromebook (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Deathlizard ( 115856 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:19PM (#42490525) Homepage Journal

      I Second the Chromebook. They just work. They're absolutely easy to use, And have a much better browsing experience than any tablet on the market.

      Hell, I'd recommend the Chromebox. Her Keyboard, mouse and monitor is probably still good and familiar to her, and is probably easier to read and use since the screen will be much larger

      About the only problem with a Chromebook that she'll have is printing, and that could be solved with a Google Cloud Print ready printer hooked up to the network.

    • does ChromeOS have some kind of remote management software and vpn? i am considering chromebook for my mother, but i do need to be able to log in remotely to help her. she struggles even with simple stuff like file management at the moment.

    • I'm thinking of recommending one to my mother. She's generally happy with an iPad as her only computing device, but has encountered some limitations when using websites that aren't designed for mobile browsers. A Chromebook seems like a good option for her if the web browsing experience is essentially the same as a desktop version of Chrome.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:49PM (#42489847)

    I'm sure she would like a Tablet. But you can't do everything on a tablet, why not get her a nice inexpensive laptop as well?

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:21PM (#42490087) Homepage

      Sure you can't do everything on a tablet, but does the person in question actually want to do anything that's not possible or practical on a tablet?
      If not, then no reason to have anything other than a tablet.

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:45PM (#42490251)
        Even writing a substantive email (or I guess facebook update these days) would be painful without a keyboard.

        I would be interested in firsthand feedback on how good the bluetooth keyboards are. I had a folding keyboard for my palm pilot 10 years ago, it was semi-ok, but not great. Personally I don't like the compromised layouts that come with mini-keyboards.

        • This.

          You know, you could possibly get her both...
          I like my tablet but I couldn't do without a computer. I'd go cheap laptop as a single device solution.

        • by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:02PM (#42490395)

          The Asus Transformer line of tablets are great "mini-notebooks".

          One of the big advantages is that you can buy the tablet, and if you don't need the keyboard, you don't pay for it. If you do, you can get the Asus dock version, or any bluetooth keyboard. With the dock, though, you get a full-size SD card slot and full-sized USB connectors, so you can easily move data (like photos mentioned in the summary) to/from other devices. The only real negative I have seen on the latest versions (which fix the poor GPS reception of earlier versions) is that they don't support 5GHz for 802.1n.

          • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:41PM (#42490667) Homepage

            This. Forget unsupported weirdness of chromebook. You need Angry Birds!

            Just moved my dad (72) from original 20" imac with some weird HDD issues to an Asus transformer with official keyboard. He uses the keyboard when doing email at the desk, otherwise browsing, reading, gaming are all touch.

            We got his P&S camera to upload pics directly to the tablet. The only thing he can't do (so far) is print. He fires up the mac for that.

            So far so good - 4 months no complaints.

          • by Nimey ( 114278 )

            I don't like the ergonomics of either of the two Transformer models I've played with at work. For one thing, with the dock installed it's quite top-heavy and will fall over a lot more easily than a laptop would. The touchpad is pretty crappy too and its palm detection is absolute pants.

            Between the two, for light use as a web terminal I'd choose the Chromebook, but if you want/need to run certain apps or want something more flexible (modulo those ergo problems) you'll want Android.

        • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

          Full-sized bluetooth keyboards exist. I've seen both classic (rigid) and flexible models, no foldables though.

        • by mellon ( 7048 )

          I have an apple bluetooth keyboard that is really great to type on. I wouldn't want a tablet without one.

      • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:58PM (#42490773) Homepage Journal

        You mean like copy and paste? Oh, I know it exists on tablets, but it's a chore. Hell, iPad users don't even know how to post links to Youtube videos unless it's to Facebook or Twitter via a 'share' icon. The ease of use of tablets is a myth. For even the simplest things: you need an app for that.

        The on-screen keyboards are shit as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You or I can't do everything we need on a tablet.. but for other people that's not necessarily true.

      And speaking from the perspective of a person with several computers already, but who recently bought an iPad Mini - I find myself using the Mini more than I expected, just because its usually nearby and convenient. Heck, even for ssh if I just want to check how something is doing, or to quickly fix something trivial on the server - a tablet is quite adequate.

      DON'T get a Kindle Fire though. We recently bought

      • by mellon ( 7048 )

        Yup, the Nexus 7 won't do as a computer replacement, but it's quite a nice machine for a lot of what you'd do on a computer. I think the Nexus 10 might do quite nicely. No command line, of course, so if that's a deal breaker, don't get it, but otherwise it's very nice—I prefer it to my iPad at this point.

        • A good command line on any android device is just an app away. Works much better if you root it of course.

    • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:48PM (#42490269) Homepage Journal

      But you can't do everything on a tablet...

      I'm not so sure. As a developer its simply not possible to do what I need to do with a tablet, but my wife recently purchased a Nexus 7 after doing most of her computing on a Nook for a couple of years. She has a tower pc but rarely uses it.

  • To me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:49PM (#42489853)

    It already sounds like you made your choice, so why are you posting a question that is trying to convince us to agree with you?

    • Re:To me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:34PM (#42490161) Homepage Journal

      It already sounds like you made your choice, so why are you posting a question that is trying to convince us to agree with you?

      This should not have been modded Troll but Informative (it's too obvious to rate Insightful).

      There may be plenty of reasons not to get a tablet, but will this guy really read and consider them? I sincerely have my doubts.
      The real question seems to be "I want to buy my mom a tablet to replace her laptop - can I get some backpatting?"
      While the real question should have been "Mom, what do you need, want and feel comfortable using?"
      Which we can't answer.

    • by kent_eh ( 543303 )
      Maybe there are some ases that he hasn't thought of, and he wants to get some other input?

      I notice that printing isn't mentioned. Can a tablet print to a network printer? Or to a USB printer, assuming the tablet can do USB host? ?

      If your granny is doing any amount of typing, a bluetooth (or USB) keyboard would be amost mandatory, I'd think. I can't stand typing more than a few words at a time on the virtual keyboard.
  • Chromebook. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy Prough ( 2730467 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:50PM (#42489867)
    For the cheaper price and the desktop functionality, if all you need it for is web browsing and email, I'd go with a Chromebook. If you want to go 100% tablet, you are almost certainly going to have to buy a keyboard, so it would be very hard to get a decent combo for less than the $249 Samsung or the $199 Acer Chromebooks.
    • For the cheaper price and the desktop functionality, if all you need it for is web browsing and email, I'd go with a Chromebook. If you want to go 100% tablet, you are almost certainly going to have to buy a keyboard, so it would be very hard to get a decent combo for less than the $249 Samsung or the $199 Acer Chromebooks.

      $99 Arnova tablet running ICS, $20 powered usb hub, $15 logitech usb keyboard/mouse. HDMI cable out to flat screen monitor, $135 total. I'm not cheap, I'm 'frugal'!

      • I doubt you will get the performance of Samsung's quad-core Exynos processor, or the excellent graphics performance. But that IS a good deal.
        • I doubt you will get the performance of Samsung's quad-core Exynos processor, or the excellent graphics performance. But that IS a good deal.

          No, it sure isn't a quad core (where's the jealous emoticon, dammit!). It's got a 1ghz A4 processor, 32gb sd slot too. Arnova sells better (1.5ghz) in the $179 range. Mine runs most emulators, runs all the Mame roms no problem. Not enough power for Nintendo64 and Playstation1, though. I think tablets are the way to go, if you aren't a power user. Stream movies, book reader, and no 'major' security updates to perform every other time you turn it on (I don't miss MS).

          • Chromebook seems to update in the background, like the Chrome browser. Sounds like a great tablet though! But - for $20 more ($199), you can get an Acer Chromebook with an Intel processor, 320 GB hard drive, USB ports, 100 GB free Google Drive space, full HDMI port...
            • by Nimey ( 114278 )

              Chrome OS does update in the background, occasionally needing to reboot for updates.

              Between the $199 Chromebook and the $249 one, I'd spend the extra dosh. You'll get much better battery life and you don't need the bigger but slower storage the cheaper one offers. I'm not sure if Netflix has ported their player to Chrome OS on ARM yet, though.

  • Get her a keyboard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:52PM (#42489873)

    Older people have worse eyesight and often require the tactile feedback of a keyboard.

    • by esldude ( 1157749 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:03PM (#42489961)
      Actually, despite the eyesight and other issues, from what I have seen, older people, especially older women love tablets. Even some that type enough I wondered how they could prefer them. Not sure I get it, but I have seen that to be the case in several instances, and most of them had/have a desktop or laptop. So they aren't people new to computers. I think less dexterity is needed to poke the screen in your hands than moving a mouse, along with the OS being set up for touch screen interaction. Those who get comfortable dictating longer emails and notes do seem to need nothing else. Their other computers seem to sit idle. If the person in mind needs only a desktop device a chromebook might be the better choice. But I have also seen older folks once they have the portable tablet, make much more use of it all over the house when they didn't spend as much time actually computing at a desktop. So despite lots of things saying a tablet is under-powered and not best to interface with for all purposes, something about it seems to get along with older people better.
      • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:12PM (#42490019)

        I mostly agree, but I haven't personally met anyone older who's been happy with dictating to a text-to-speech program unless they literally can't type. But most of the people I know who tried tried it a while ago, so maybe the programs are better now?

        One of my relatives uses a tablet for most things: web browsing, reading emails, writing short replies, making notes, watching videos, etc. But she still goes up to an ancient desktop to type out longer emails.

    • Then I'd think something like an asus transformer pad would be the best of both worlds...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    While it is a nifty idea your going to run into lots of problems. Be it due to the lack of support from your bank, an inability to print, or some fallback mode that your email provider forces on you all of the sudden.

    When I initially did it everything seemed to work perfectly. Then disaster struct. I actually started using it in place of my computer when I went on the road. There are so many problems with tablets it isn't funny. Even for just consuming content.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      Do people really print? I haven't owned a printer in 10 years, and I used to write firmware for them.

      The real problem will be typing. Whether its inputting in a form or sending an email, eventually you want a physical keyboard and not an onscreen one. My limit before I get annoyed with onscreens is about 200 characters- anything longer I wait until I'm at home.

      • by zandeez ( 1917156 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:09PM (#42489997) Homepage
        We still print quite regularly. Things like e-vouchers and booking references. Sure there are ways around that, but a printed piece of paper can't crash on you or run out of battery.
        • iPad and iPhone print fine with a wifi printer that's less than a year old. There are good apps for cheap that help support nearly all doc types from images to PDF, word, excel and ppt formats.

          Add Dropbox to save things from email or the web and you're good to go.

          Not sure about printer support on Android. Have a Nexus 7 but haven't tried to print.

        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

          Seems like a waste to print those out- its a single number. I'd either just use my phone, or jot them down with pen and paper rather than pay to keep a printer in ink. Or not bother at all- I haven't had a airline, hotel, or theater ever not be able to look me up by name. If they can't find my name (uncommon name) in the system, most likely the entire order including id isn't in there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        yes, people have requirements that may not be the same as yours

      • by icebike ( 68054 )

        If you are typing 200 characters on the screen, you are doing it wrong.

        The predictive keyboard apps that come with tablets or are added as Apps to tablets mean that in most cases you tap a couple characters then select the word. Swiftkey will predict entire words you are likely to want to type BEFORE you type a single letter of the next word. It does this by analyzing your language style over time.

        If you have to type tons of text, a cheap bluetooth keyboard built into a carrying case for the tablet will p

        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

          I was lead Android dev at Swype, I'm quite sure I know alternative keyboards better than you. My limit is still about 20 words before I want a real keyboard. And I find actually using word prediction for future words is slower than tapping/swyping- it takes me longer to read the list, scroll through it, and tap an option than it would to just type the word, and it breaks up my flow.

          • by icebike ( 68054 )

            That's because swipe uses a ridiculous word list technology. Try your competition, Swiftkey, for a week and I guarantee you will never return to swipe.
            Swipe has lost every speed test it has been in, its built from a fundamentally flawed concept.

            I'm book marking this post to show my swipe fan friends who are astounded when I finish their silly typing tests using Swiftkey in a quarter of the time they do.

        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

          Forgot to mention this in the previous post- the research we saw showed that typing the full word was almost always quicker than tapping part of it and using prediction. Predictive ability was more useful for typo correction than it was for speed.

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      Printing is no problem, as long as your printer supports either cat5 or a wifi connection. I print from my tablet every couple of days.
      Bank sites are no problem either, SSL is just about all any bank uses, and Android tablets (as well as IPads I suppose) support many
      different bank apps that allow you do do anything from the mobile device.

      Email? Seriously? Tablets thrive on email.
      Typing long emails or documents can be made easy with a simple Bluetooth keyboard. Cheap, and often built into the case
      that you

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:56PM (#42489913) Homepage Journal

    Get her two tablets, gift-wrapped.

    First, present her with one of those small personal-sized chalkboard tablets 1st graders use (with a piece of chalk for a stylus). Demonstrate how to use it as a word-processor, reader, and calculator. This shouldn't cost you more than $10, assuming you don't get the "Monster Cable" brand piece of chalk.

    Once the laughs are over, present her with a real tablet.

    Post the video of her using the "old school" tablet to YouTube.

  • Untethered iPad (Score:2, Interesting)

    For the past year, my iPad has been entirely untethered from my Mac - it can self-update and self-backup to iCloud. Can't speak for other tablets, but historically you had to have a Mac or PC to tether your iPad to.
  • Using a tablet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zacherynuk ( 2782105 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:00PM (#42489939)
    ...Can really strain the hands... and the neck. And the eyes.

    In fact, tablet use in general goes against 30 odd years of human interface ergonomics. I wouldn't wish it upon myself for extended periods of time, let alone an elderly loved one.

    Buy her a sensible chair, 24 inch monitor at the correct height and a correctly fitting keyboard and mouse in a neutrally lit space. I don't care what you connect to those peripherals.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:28PM (#42490133)

      Dear sir, I'm an organic farmer from Idaho. My colleagues and I are currently looking for reasonably priced fertilizer for our fields and I've noticed from your post that you have an over abundance of Bull Shit. Will you be interested in selling some of it to us? We will pay for shipping. In fact I believe you are so full of Bull Shit that there will be enough for the entire state, and if you're looking for a distributor I'd be happy to discuss that with you.

      Put in another way, there's nothing un-ergonomic about tablets. They're no different than books, paper pads, or chalkboards: you can hold them up, lay them on a table, on an angled stand, any way you like, while sitting, standing, or lying down. And since you're not forced to use them in any particular place or position, there are absolutely no ergonomic issues with tablets.

      • Re:Using a tablet... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:24PM (#42490569)

        Put in another way, there's nothing un-ergonomic about tablets. They're no different than books, paper pads, or chalkboards: you can hold them up, lay them on a table, on an angled stand, any way you like, while sitting, standing, or lying down. And since you're not forced to use them in any particular place or position, there are absolutely no ergonomic issues with tablets.

        There's even a term for it... have you heard of "ipad shoulder", or "ipad neck"? I'm guessing "ipad hunchback" will become common once the young kids of today start to get into their 30's too.

        The problem is that you either hunch your neck forward to look at the ipad while it's in a position comfortable for your hands, or you raise your arms to use it when it's in the non-hunchback position. Either way you're straining your body. It's fine for using here and there but if you were using it more than a few hours a day (eg because it's your sole computing device) then ergonomics really does become an issue.

        A separate keyboard and mouse solves pretty much all of that though, and is probably the best of both worlds - the convenience of a lightweight tablet while you're moving around, and the ergonomics of a desktop computer when you're sitting. Ideal if you move between workplaces too.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      There are other things that can really strain the hands... and I guess also the neck and eyes. Are you going to stop using that too?

  • by TheoCryst ( 975577 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:00PM (#42489949)

    My mom is the very definition of computer illiterate -- my sister and I have been trying to teach her to use a computer (first a PC, later a Mac) since the mid '90s, and she simply cannot grasp the basic concepts. She can sort of work a keyboard (it looks like a typewriter), but mice constantly thwart her. Add to that the fact that she has trouble discerning "windows" on a desktop as being discrete items, and you can see why we finally gave up trying to teach her once we had both gone away to college.

    About a year ago I managed to acquire an unneeded iPad, and made the decision to gift it to my mother. For a woman who has literally never used a computer without assistance, never mind owned one, she took to it immediately. She's now able to browse the internet, send and receive emails, and even navigate the app store when she wants additional functionality. And after a full year, I haven't received a single "oh no, I think I broke it" call.

    That being said, my mother is not your mother (AFAIK), so your mileage may vary. If you think her needs can be satisfied by an iPad (web browsing, shopping, email, media consumption, and no more than light content editing), I highly recommend it. There's just no beating its ease of use. An external bluetooth keyboard would be nice for longer writing sessions, however.

    • by esldude ( 1157749 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:10PM (#42490005)
      My mother was a little more capable with computers than you describe yours, but didn't like them or use them all that much. Yet, the story is just like yours. Once she got a Samsung Galaxy tablet, she uses it so much it is almost constantly with her. And she doesn't need my assistance other than what I showed her the first couple days she owned it. Two of her friends have also gotten them having seen hers. They too went from minimal computer use to being regular enthusiastic users of the tablets they own.
    • About a year ago I managed to acquire an unneeded iPad

      If I had a sandwich everytime that happened..

  • My Mom, she is 68 this year, has just switched from a 15" MacBook Pro as her only computer to an iPad 4 as her only computing device. She really only does e-mail, browsing, some e-banking and the odd video/movie every now and then. The MBP was clearly overkill for her in the first place, but the iPad does pretty much everything she ever needed with much less bulk, weight and cost. She certainly uses the iPad more than she used the MBP before that, so she must be satisfied with it.
  • I've Got All Three (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Whuffo ( 1043790 )

    I've got a laptop, tablet, and a desktop computer. I've been going back and forth for a couple of years now and I've discovered what matters to me and how I use them

    I use the tablet a lot - and the desktop gets used a lot, too. The laptop just sits around collecting dust; it's been powered up once in the last three months - and only because I needed a file from it.

    Those who recommend a Chromebook - they don't consider that there will be times when you have no internet connectivity and want to use your tab

  • My girlfriend was in roughly the same boat a month ago. Her 8+ year old P4 desktop hasn't been turned on in many months. She planned to replace it soon.

    I bought myself a Nexus 7 to take with me for my computing needs (video games, video watching, IRC, eBook reading, remote access to my home network, etc.) while at her place. She saw how much I could get done with it and quickly changed her mind about buying a new desktop/laptop.

    She picked up an ASUS Transformer TF300T at a recent sale from Best Buy and has

  • we realize you've never taken a time out of your trickery, debauchary and entertainment time to learn electronics. Let me put your mind at ease. I've got a friend who didn't, until very recently, get a smartphone let alone know how to use a computer. He has no idea how to create a directory (folder) by simply right clicking. The first time he saw a window being drug across two monitors was like seeing a bootiful woman for the first time. I'm serious - he had half a pack of rolaids in his pants.

    You sho
  • Automatic backup. Lots of people of her own age group with reasonable experience if she needs help. If you're lucky a store nearby with employees who will actually help her when she needs it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a frequent discussion among people in tech situations. My only question is when you can easily find a used laptop for 100 bucks or less, why bother?? A 100 dollar laptop will handle the occasional tasks needed by 90% of users. A decent tablet will run at least 300 bucks, plus a nice case, plus paying for needed apps(many of which have quality free alternatives on a desktop) and so forth. In the end going tablet only is both more expensive and less convenient. Why bother?

  • .. on what you want to compute.

  • To the OP : did you post your slashdot question using a tablet?
  • by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:37PM (#42490179) Homepage

    Or serious processing.

    But if the stuff you do at home consists of watching youtube or playing games - I couldn't for the life of me imagine an existance so boring - go for it!

  • Seriously...another post PC debate to advertise the iPad, my favourite part is the fact that its out of warranty!? If that sort of thing is a major issue. Do not go near an Apple product. The have got in trouble in both Europe ( for breaking the law by offering year instead of the statutory two years for returns, and in China(

    • Seriously...another post PC debate to advertise the iPad, my favourite part is the fact that its out of warranty!? If that sort of thing is a major issue. Do not go near an Apple product...

      I think this post says more about you than the OP.

  • by Above ( 100351 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:56PM (#42490331)

    I have a desktop, laptop, and iPad, and would consider myself a power user. In an effort to travel lighter I've tried taking the iPad only on some trips to see if it can fit the bill. The answer to me is a resounding maybe, and depends entirely on what you want to do.

    Tablets are terrible content creation devices. Writing an e-mail, editing a picture, cutting a movie, or even filling in a web form to buy something are all much more difficult. The lack of a keyboard is a big part of it, and can be mitigated with a keyboard for the tablet, but that's not the whole story. The lack of screen space, and the touch interfaces also make things less efficient.

    However, they are excellent content consumption devices. I prefer reading e-mail and browsing the web casually on my iPad. I grab it for simple apps like checking the weather, or my portfolio. On trips it offers a vastly better interface for things like Yelp or UrbanSpoon. For older relatives, things like PhotoStream can be huge if you have other family members with the small children willing to use it.

    As a geek, if I'm going away for a day or two and just want to casually stay in touch it's a winner. Smaller, lighter, better battery life. However if I need to do any work, it's right out as an option, more of a nuisance than a help.

    So at the end of the day, it really depends on what your mother does online. Does she just want to read some e-mail and get pictures of the grandkids? A tablet may be an excellent choice. Does she make her own electronic scrapbooks? A tablet would probably be a horrible choice.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:59PM (#42490367) Journal

    I would bet that it's just a power supply that died. It's a great excuse to buy a new computer, but all in all, I'd give it a 90% chance it's the power supply that died.

    • by waspleg ( 316038 )

      He said he was more than 2500 miles away. Do you trust your mom to replace a power supply?

  • Acer W500 + Win8 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by caywen ( 942955 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:16PM (#42490493)

    A while ago, I had bought an Acer W500 as I was developing a specialized touch screen type of app for Windows 7. That project kind of died, so I ended up with a useless piece of hardware for almost a year. After Windows 8 was released, I upgraded for $40 and put that on there.

    Recently, my MBP and Acer netbook both died, leaving me with nothing but this W500. My first reaction was to whip out the CC and go to However, I gave the W500 a chance. Here's what I found:

    - It works quite well as a desktop. I plug in my USB kb/mouse and 24" 1080p monitor. The traditional Windows desktop is perfectly responsive
          - As a Putty client, it's great. I can easily have 4 big terminals open on the 24", and a browser open on the tablet.
          - Demanding desktop apps can run a bit slow (it's only an AMD C-50), but it depends on what you're doing.
    - With only 32GB, it's pretty space limited. Fortunately, I have a 64GB SD card which mitigates it a bit. Also, I can plug in my external 500GB.
    - I'm also able to plug in my printer, scanner, camera, and external DVD, and they work for the most part.
    - As a tablet, it's OK. It's no iPad, but there's already been endless discussion on that.

    Overall, it's actually impressed me in that there's no way I could do this efficiently with an iPad. I give it a B for desktop productivity, and a B- for tablet functions. For reference, I'd give an iPad an A+ for tablet functions, and an F for desktop productivity (not intended as a knock). My guess is that an Acer W700 (core i5) would be an A for desktop tasks (since it's way faster and more capacious) and a solid B for tablet (since it's faster and has higher resolution).

    In short, at the risk of getting attacked as an MS shill, I'd actually recommend one of the newer hybrid tablet-top Windows 8 thingies if you're looking for a single device. If you can, I'd wait until after CES and the market to settle down a bit before buying anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2013 @06:29PM (#42490603)

    Your mother doesn't need anything too complicated. I would suggest you go for at least a 6-core Core i7 3.5GHz Extreme CPU, overclocked dual GTU 690 512-bit HDCP-ready GPU, hi-fi 24-bit sound card with DTS, 32GB DDR3 RAM, 80plus 1500W modular power supply, 140mm copper quiet bearing CPU cooler, twin-turbine blue LED case fans, 500GB SATA III 120,000 IOPS SSD drive, 16x BDXL Blu-ray burner, dual 2560 x 1600 350 cd/m2 1000:1 30" display, USB macro-programmable gaming keyboard, Razer 17-button wireless mouse, and a classy mid-tower computer case. Don't forget COD Black Ops and Assassin's Creed to help her pass the time.

    I don't think a simple tablet will do.

  • by PastTense ( 150947 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @08:25PM (#42491361)

    I can't believe the comments here.

    First get her a computer with the same Operating System as she already has. The older generation doesn't like change for the sake of change--they only want change when it offers significant improvements.

    Second she will want a full size keyboard and a decent sized screen. As you get older your fingers are less nimble and your eyesight gets worse.

    So I am thinking something like a 15"-17", used business class laptop from eBay (a few years old).

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:22PM (#42496395)

    A tablet is a fine computer for consuming information and researching things.

    Tablets fall down when it comes to creating content but I expect they'll improve at that.

    You can get a keyboard for an iPad - there are many third party alternatives and the official Apple wireless keyboard. I have the Apple version for use with my iPad and it's great. However I still use my MacBookPro for most creative work. For reading on the go or in bed I prefer the iPad.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes