Upcycle an old HP laptop for my kid?
October 25, 2012 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Hey all - I have an old HP laptop from 2005, still working, but quite old now. I was tempted to recycle it, but I have a chance to give it a new life. I also have a kid on the way, so I was thinking about wiping it and making it the kid's computer in 2-3 years when he's likely to be interested in it. Thoughts, suggestions?

I saw similar questions in 2009 and 2011, but I'm questioning whether or not a 7 year old laptop is even worth the effort. I'd also like to make it kid-friendly in some way, but haven't looked into kid-friendly OS options or content filtering or games or anything else. Help a first-time-father out...
posted by cyclotronboy to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
By the time he's old enough to be interested in it at all it's going to be a 10 year old HP laptop and there are going to be indestructible kid-focused tablets available for $50. By the time he's old enough to be interested in antique computer technology it'll have a dead and unreplaceable battery, and be inferior to old desktop computers (that are brand new or not even not out yet right now) that he can pick up on the cheap.

There are other kids who are old enough to use it right now, and underprivileged enough to really appreciate a 7 year old working laptop. It has wifi and can run a modern browser, right? I'd ask around and see who wants it.
posted by contraption at 9:27 AM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

-Laptops have shorter half-lifes than PCs and can't be as easily dissected for curiosity's sake
-This one's old as fuck
-3 year olds can't read, but literally everything will fascinate them, other than a computer
-Throw it out
-Hit it with a hammer for fun and throw it out
posted by MangyCarface at 10:39 AM on October 25, 2012

Run a price check for this model used, and see what kind of value the market-place has decided.

The kid won't be able to operate a keyboard in the beginning-- the touch screen interface seems more intuitive for the youngest users. There are plenty of Android tablets for under $200, like the Nabi.

Older laptops have difficulty rendering graphics and video. They are slow and stuttering. The CPU and graphics processor are old and feeble, and there isn't enough RAM. I have a 4 year old laptop with 512 mb of RAM, when most current laptops are shipping with 4-8 gb of RAM.
posted by ohshenandoah at 12:18 PM on October 25, 2012

About laptops for little ones: I would worry that a very young kid (under 3 or so) would be able to pry up keycaps and put them in his or her mouth.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:13 PM on October 25, 2012

Yeah...we tried this. Tablets are the way to go; they are so much easier for a kid to learn on than a keyboard (especially when they can't read yet) and there are 8 million cheap/free kid apps out there, many educational. (I still pay his Toca Boca games though he's too old for them).

My kid could not get used to the mouse and his old refurb'd computer had a terrible time connecting to the internet for all the PBSkids games he wanted to play, etc. Then a friend gave us his old iPad and suddenly we were off to computer land.

He is still doing computer lab at school and learning keyboards there, so he will need his own "real" computer one of these days, but it won't be one that was old when he was born.
posted by emjaybee at 3:03 PM on October 25, 2012

Seconding that there are kids right now who could really use it and will get way more out of it than your baby. Where I live there's a group which helps poor and homeless kids have a place to study, work on projects, and gives them access to old laptops. You might look into such a thing in your area.
posted by The otter lady at 7:06 PM on October 25, 2012

> but I'm questioning whether or not a 7 year old laptop is even worth the effort.

It'll be 10 years old by the time he is able to use it. Honestly, no laptop that old is worth the effort unless money is incredibly tight. Even then, Windows 7 or Vista or whatever is on there will be either non-supported or on its way out. Also, by then the world will have moved more towards mobile devices and such. My vote is to just toss it and pick up a $199 tablet in a couple of years.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:34 AM on October 26, 2012

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