What computer should my dad buy?
November 24, 2021 7:22 AM   Subscribe

His needs are simple: Windows ecosystem laptop that will run the full version of Word and Excel and will make browsing the Internet an enjoyable experience. Also fairly inexpensive. As a Mac-only user, I need help directing him to something that meets those criteria. Thank you!
posted by guster4lovers to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Same suggestion as always: Refurbished Thinkpad or Ideapad (buy directly from the Lenovo Outlet). Aim for at least 8GB RAM, 16 if it's in the budget.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:42 AM on November 24 [8 favorites]

Woot.com (which was bought out by Amazon a while back) almost always have business lease return laptops for sale, and a ton of other stuff.

Generally, one of the HP Elitebooks should be perfectly fine. I'd imagine he'd want a bigger screen, so the tiny 12 inch screens are probably out. Price would be between 400-600 there for a 14 inch laptop. Anything cheaper would have 12 inch screens or weak CPUs. Any larger screen and it'd likely go into the 800-1000 price range.

Ignore Chromebooks as they are not Windows machines.
posted by kschang at 9:12 AM on November 24

What does inexpensive mean to your dad? (I agree with the secondhand Thinkpad suggestion - but to me inexpensive means buying (an excellent) one on ebay or such for $1-300.)

If you buy new the laptop will almost definitely come with an SSD. If you buy secondhand, I'd make sure what you buy has an SSD rather than a traditional spinning hard drive (HDD). (Faster, lighter, less worrisome if you drop the laptop. The tradeoff is that an SSD with X capacity is more expensive than its HDD equivalent, so SSDs tend to have much less storage space.)

How will he be using the laptop, physically? Does he prefer lightweight? Does he care about battery life?

Will he be wanting a larger rather than a smaller screen (likely, since he plans to be using Excel)? Similarly, does he want a high screen resolution (which lets you fit in more pixels at once), or is his eyesight not great so he won't be using the high resolution anyway?

Does he care about display quality? There are all kinds of displays - IPS, TN, oled, etc - at different price points and quality levels. Also, does he prefer matte or reflective (like a tablet) screens?

Does he care about how the keyboard feels to type on, and have any preferences? (Thinkpad keyboards are famously good, not sure about other brands.) Will he need a built-in number pad?

Is he planning to plug things in to the laptop? Some computers are better about having lots of ports than others.

Does he care about having a good return policy? Costco has (or had? I'm not up to date) a great reputation in that regard.

Whatever you buy, I'd recommend getting a spare power adapter or two. Also, check out the Black Friday sales.

will make browsing the Internet an enjoyable experience

To me that says: nice display, 8+ gb ram, fast internet, and - more than anything - adblocking (ublock origin on Firefox or Chrome, for example, which you'll need to install yourself).
posted by trig at 9:13 AM on November 24

(To make the old Thinkpad suggestions a little more specific: usually what people mean there is an X (12-13 inch) or T (14-15 inch) series model. There are some other good ones (P series, lately) but X or T are the main things to look at. These being made primarily for the business market, some individual models have less-great screens/webcams/microphones so you need to make sure the one you're getting has what you want.)
posted by trig at 9:26 AM on November 24 [3 favorites]

I am always on Team Used Thinkpad. They are generally off-lease, business-class, repairable, upgradeable, workhorses. Buyers Guide. I like T series, my current one is a T440, runs well, lets me keep tons of tabs open and watch video. If I were buying today, I'd go for something newer, and I'd kind of like to have a 15" screen.

The cheap consumer-grade laptops at Walmart and Best Buy are crap. Friend had one(HP) with a failed hard drive and the case was not meant to be opened, so repair was a mess. It had a failed chip somewhere and it ended up being a salvage job. Set friend up with a Thinkpad, and he's been delighted with it.

It's a busy day, but I could look for some decent examples if that would help.
posted by theora55 at 9:50 AM on November 24

Some folks I know swear by buying their PCs from CostCo.
posted by oceano at 1:31 PM on November 24

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