If I were to recommend a computer for my mom

I’d tell her that computers cost more than they did in the early 2000s, or even five years ago. You can’t get a good computer for 500. You couldn’t then, either, but we didn’t do as much with them anyway. Now we do everything. If your phone used to cost 300 and now costs 1300, it stands to reason other kinds of computers cost more too. The Canadian dollar is also super weak and that sucks but what can you do?

Still, computers today are incredible. They’re well-built, super fast, and will last a long time.

I’d prioritize:

  • Lightness and Portability
  • Speed
  • Ease of Use

In my mind, there are only two computers right now that do these things. Every other computer on the market is either heavier, more complicated, or has other serious drawbacks.

Surface Pro 7 - $1800, tax included

I’d buy the brand new Pro 7 with 8gb of ram, 256gb storage, and the i5 processor in black. That’s the middle of the road option. My mom already knows how to use a Surface, and this will feel like a major upgrade from her 2014 model.

Why this configuration?

You can save money on getting less ram and storage, but it will make the computer slower now, and way slower in the future. While I’d rather splurge on the 16gb of ram, it is likely that my mom’s computer usage wouldn’t actually require more than 8.

Keyboard and Mouse?

She has a good mouse. And because my mom’s last computer was a Surface 3, she can still use the keyboard and pen, so that’s a few hundred dollars saved on accessories. A new keyboard would be about $200 with tax, and a new pen is 150.

iPad Pro - $1,624.94, tax and keyboard included

I’d buy the 1-year old 11-inch iPad Pro with 256gb storage in silver. My mom already knows how to use an iPad, and the extra screen, pro features, and extra storage here will make it feel like a primary computer replacement. It should be, because it costs the same as one.

Why this configuration?

While 64gb of storage on an iPad is probably stingy these days, 512gb is overkill. It’s likely my mom will download movies and TV shows from apps, but those are all pretty good at auto-deleting files over time. The iPad Pro may be the easiest computer in the world, file-management-wise. It’s a way better deal to just get 2tb of iCloud storage than to pay for more local storage.

Is an iPad a real computer now, though?

Yeah. There’s a file app and USB-C and you can connect it to a monitor and use a bluetooth mouse. It runs Office 365 and you can connect it to an external hard drive and a server. It’s not really missing any major PC features anymore. And since it does a whole lot that a regular PC can’t, it’s actually the device I’d recommend for anyone not stuck with some legacy app they can’t live without. My mom is not one of those people.

Keyboard and Mouse

Yup. That’ll be $250 for a Keyboard Case from Apple. It’s a good keyboard, though, and arguably a much better typing experience than any Mac.


November 3, 2019