The largest-screen Chromebook with clicky touchpad
July 10, 2020 6:00 PM   Subscribe

My landlady's 17" Macbook Pro is finally dying a slow death and she wants help getting a new computer. She is 96, only uses Gmail and maybe reads or watches online news, and occasionally prints things from email. I think a Chromebook is a good bet, but which one? A few other requirements below.

She has very bad vision, so a large screen is necessary. She's using my 15" laptop right now and it's "too small". She does not want a desktop because she movies it around the house. She also has poor dexterity so a touchpad that has an actual "click" to it is necessary. Touch screen not necessary. Hoping for under $500 and would prefer much less. Disk space is a non-issue. I know iPads are what are usually recommended, but I don't feel confident that re-learning all the things would be useful. Lighter is also better because she trucks it around a lot. She is cheap to a fault, so even a low end new Macbook Air is too much $$ for her and, again, they're too small.

I'm fine with having my assumptions questions about any of this, but could use some advice. The MBP still works fine, but the touchpad is broken and we got her an external touchpad and it was fine for a while and now it is failing. Getting it fixed in rural VT seems like a non-option.

tl;dr suggest the largest screen Chromebook that has a clicky touchpad. Thank you for assistance!
posted by jessamyn to Shopping (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Hoping for under $500 and would prefer much less
Getting it fixed in rural VT seems like a non-option

Does rural VT have a workable parcel post?
posted by flabdablet at 6:21 PM on July 10


I'm not sure I've seen a 17" Chromebook. I am on a 15" acer right now and can confirm the touchpad clicks (though it has no "button" area, just the whole touchpad is clicky).
posted by Lyn Never at 6:28 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Reason I ask is because Rossmann's ballpark guide for trackpad replacement is around $150, which is substantially less than $500 and will probably remain so even with shipping.
posted by flabdablet at 6:29 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


She has very bad vision, so a large screen is necessary.

How stringent is this - could she use a TV or similar as an external monitor at home and deal with the screen size when out and about or is too much use desired outside the home for this to be good enough?
posted by PMdixon at 6:58 PM on July 10


Chromebooks can be picky about printers. Look at what their printer is to see if it is compatible.

Could you find another refurbished macbook pro of the same type?
posted by nickggully at 7:02 PM on July 10


The Wirecutter is a now-NYT-owned website that does the same sort of reporting Consumer Reports did, surveying everything in a field and recommending a single product for a category. For "bigger screen" Chromebooks, they recommend a 15.6" Chromebook by HP. I would assume there isn't a 17" Chromebook.
posted by metabaroque at 7:05 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I keep reading that you can turn older laptops into chromebooks fairly easily. I don't know if it's possible on a mac, but a used laptop with a big 17 inch screen wouldn't be more than a few hundred dollars, and then - there are a lot of instructions online - https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-turn-your-old-slow-laptop-into-an-awesome-chromebook-for-your-kids/
posted by lemniskate at 8:18 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


* Touchpads often malfunction due to a swollen battery - try removing the battery and see if that fixes it
* in my experience, people with poor dexterity do better with mice than trackpads. Is that an option?
posted by soylent00FF00 at 8:41 AM on July 11


Thanks very much for all of your suggestions, this gives me some good directions to look in. In answer to your questions

- she can't use a mouse because she can't hold the mouse steady enough for double-clicking (or sometimes single clicking) and adjusting the laptop to be only single-click will have other knock-on effects.
- am bummed that Chromebooks aren't big but making an old laptop into a Chromebook is a possibility
- I did re-adjust the battery and it didn't seem to fix the issue
- I'm a little leery about buying an old MPB only because, as the provider of the computer, I wind up "owning" whatever issues come up and I'm hoping for something that mostly works, but that may be an option.
posted by jessamyn at 9:23 AM on July 11


As a child of a 94-year-old, I would NOT switch her from Mac's to another system. It's too different. Elders just don't usually have the flexibility to learn a totally different system, and it will frustrate her - possibly to the point of quitting computers completely.

Also, see if there is any organizations locally who offer low vision aids and assistance. My mom got a free computer setup from them - we just give it back to them upon her death. They are great people.
posted by summerstorm at 8:51 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


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