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RJMacReady

What computer to get my non-techy Girlfriend?

Hello, I want to get my girlfriend some sort of desktop PC so she can browse the web, listen to music, watch YouTube, and Skype with me (damn Antarctic research site).
I was looking at building her an AMD based Mini ATX, but I'm seeing all these great, economical chrome OS based boxes for under $200.

I'm wondering how easy it would be to get her setup and functional with one.
Honestly, in a perfect world (and one where I was paid more) I'd get her a badass Mac-Mini and monitor.

Alas, my question; Which simple PC would work best for my non-techy (at all) girlfriend?
Thanks,

RJ MacReady, out.

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16 replies
dave

Are laptops completely out of the question? You can get some pretty decent prices on Chromebooks (~$200!) and they're pretty portable as well. Plus, you don't need to deal with setting up a monitor, mouse, etc.
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RJMacReady

I have.. She currently has an ASUS Eee PC and it is dreadful. (She bought it before meeting me, so I don't give her TOO much crap) She's frustrated with it and just wants something that works well. Hence the Mac Mini as my recommendation.

Just seeing if there is any other clever ways out there.
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Vakama75

Maybe something like the Asus VivoPC https:­/­/www.asus.com­/ASUS­_VivoPC/ could be interesting.
Or like you said for Chrome Os, you can wait for the Asus Chromebox.
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RJMacReady

Ahh, thanks for the idea. I really like the new Intel boxes too. They have the Haswell chips. Almost like a cheaper Mac Mini. I think I'm gonna hold out. I think she'd really love OSX. It's kind of built with non-tetchy people in mind. I can imagine ChromeOS might be frustrating.
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merl37

Take a look at:
www.intel.com­/content­/www­/us­/en­/nuc­/overview.html
This is the latest low price version NUC...
For stronger performance consider the i5 version...
You will have to add ram, a drive, and os..keyboard, mouse...

Be sure to test any new compurter for at least 90 days before going to a remote location...I would use an ssd rather than a spin up drive.
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joergdaehn

You might want to check out the Lenovo Essential C-Series of All-in-One-Computers.
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defiantstyles

Chrome OS, like the Mac, could be extraordinarily frustrating if you treat it just like you would a Windows PC. That being said, if you think she'll be ok using Hangouts to keep in touch with others, and Google Docs if she needs to type or use spread sheets, etc, then that could be a good option. The cheapest Mac Minis seem as though they'd also be good options, provided similar usage to the Chromebook, for about 1.5-2x the price. Acer sells a nettop with a Intel Core i3 in it for slightly less, but could likely handle more.
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dobrien0501

Actually this sounds like all use cases that an iPad would excel at. Price points and specs can be debated forever, but what really matters to the user is user experience. It's second to none. Now that's all very subjective but I don't want to get into that infinite specs debate I just mentioned.
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defiantstyles

I actually prefer the experience from my Windows Tablet. But Seriously, if you're looking at a tablet, definitely make sure you look at Android, too. iPad is no longer the only good tablet OS. Although, I'm pretty certain that Android lacks tablet specific apps...
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sluggerindeep

GF is non-techy; avoid anything Windows like the plague. I switched to Mac 6 years ago and never regretted dumping Windows (although at times I have to run Windows under Fusion on my Mac - long story). Just added a Mac Mini (I have an iPhone, iPad, and old Macbook hand me down from my wife who got a new MacBook Pro and my old iMac). All systems run perfectly, regardless of age. The Mac Mini is wonderful; save a bundle over getting a new iMac. Have 27" and 23" monitors (landscape and portrait, respectively).

Find a refurbished or used entry level Mini, a decent monitor, a logitech bluetooth solar keyboard (charges from indoor lights) and a mouse and you have a great system.
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sluggerindeep

Just to reiterate; avoid Windows anything; Windows users will fight back but most Windows users do not know OSX. Is OSX perfect - NO, but it's so much easier and better than WIndows there really is no comparison especially for a non-techy person (missing DLL ring any bells?). My first computer was an HP 150 in 1988 so I have a bit of experience under my belt.

You specifically asked about a desktop. Without question the Mini is the choice (again, used or refurbished a good deal). However, if your GF only wants to browse, message, Skype, then a tablet will do. I only know iPad so I cannot fully comment on other tablets.

The iPad lacks major apps like Office and Open Office. If your GF wants big league apps a Surface would work BUT it is Windows based and you still have do all the idiotic things needed to keep a Windows device safe (anti virus, etc). Android is the target of 95% plus malware for mobile so beware.

FYI, this post was written on my 2 year old iPad. I start every day reading Flipboard on my iPad and do all my e-mail and browsing. During the day I do my "business" work on my Mac Mini or my iMac; the Macs share each other's files so it does not matter which one I use except for huge spreadsheets - then I use the Mini with dual monitors.

One last thing. I use Pogoplug to automatically upload photos from my iPad or iPhone to a drive in my home. Your GF should consider some type of cloud storage, like Drobox, to warehouse files and photos outside of Antartica. If she is really technically limited, you could help her with that.
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defiantstyles

Really? I can't even stand to use MY two year old iPad. It's sluggish and unreliable; I actually prefer my 3 or 4 year old netbook.
And, if you would rather work on OSX, yourself, stick with OSX. But be warned, OSX is THE SINGLE MOST FRUSTRATING PILE OF GARBAGE when it doesn't "just work."
In fact, nothing just works, but Chrome OS. In any case, you should give her something you wouldn't mind working on.
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sluggerindeep

I told you PC users would be irate. Typically the most irate ones do not know OSX, dunno in this case.

BTW, I was in Staples Canada one time. It had a 27" iMac on display. I discovered it had Fusion and Windows 7 on it so I launched Windows 7. A store employee came by and asked if I needed help. I noted that I was checking the speed of Windows 7 on the Mac. He was shocked that this was possible, then proceeded to tell me that Staples does not recommend Apple because "it is not compatible". Once again I pointed out that I was running Windows 7 on a Mac and asked where the compatibility issue comes from.

I provided tech support for a non-profit corp. Both Win 7 and Win XP were used. Much of my time was spent trying to keep both systems up to date with endless updates, both system and virus checking. I won't even start on supporting their old DOS application (yes, DOS).

I used to run a company that sold Atari computers, some with Mac emulators. I provided unlimited support. Realistically, I had little to do. I branched out into PCs (the '286, '386, '486... era) and continued with unlimited support. I shut down the business because supporting PCs was such a pain in the butt that it took all the joy out of computing.

For years I hated using Windows 95, 98 and XP based computers. Finally, after getting an iPod touch as a birthday gift, I bought my wife a Macbook to replace her Dell PC (do NOT get me started on Dell crap). The transformation was instant; she began to enjoy using a computer again; to the point almost of obsession. So, I bought myself an iMac. Same thing happened to me. I started loving using a computer again. We now have a Macbook Air (daughter), a Macbook (son), a Macbook Pro (wife), an iMac (me) and Mac Mini (me, I am working on it to write this). I do not, for a minute, regret moving to Mac (oh yes, one regret - I sometimes use my Mac to run Windows to support folks who still use it).

Back to the original request. If the original poster's girlfriend is not tech savvy and wants a desktop, I strongly advice on a used or refurbished Mac Mini. If all she wants to do is browse, then a tablet will do (but do not expect to use business apps unless going to a Surface and all the Windows baggage it brings along)

Regarding a slow iPad, I have friends with an original iPad. Is it slow; yes - slower than my iPad 2 and it cannot use the latest iOS. But it still works. I would assume that the girlfriend would not get a clunky old tablet but something of a recent generation. Just bear in mind that while iPads only amount to about 1/3 of the tablets out there, they account for most of the web traffic; that is, the are used much more than their non iOS counterparts. What does that say about them?

Netbook? Every owner of a netbook that I have known has ditched them. Every one got an iPad. No doubt there are some out there who still use and love them, but the exception is not what one looks for, it is the rule.
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defiantstyles

My Netbook is technically not a netbook, as it runs an AMD C-60. But Atoms are, from experience, much faster now (so long as they are Baytrail).
That said, I have an Ivybridge MacBook, issued to me alongside my 3rd gen iPad, the "netbook," and an ASUS Transformer Book t100 (basically a Baytrail Netbook). I have found that Macs aren't that great; their powerful Core i5s being mostly useless within OSX, especially if all you do is use a web browser and a word processor. If that's all you do, a Haswell Chromebook will be an excellent choice.
So, you could get a Mac, but it'd be like getting a Humvee to drive in narrow European streets; it would work, but there are better fits available, especially if you happen to be a mechanic who works on Pugeots.
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MrRoland2u

I was attracted to the Mac Mini a year ago when I was searching for a small form desktop. I ended up buying a pretty badass mini PC from Polywell Computers, the i1000Q, pretty fully loaded. They're more or less custom builds (so not for the non tech savvy to shop for, but to use potentially). I definitely got more for less than with a comparable Mac Mini. The only part that sucked was going through the Windows 8 growing pains with drivers and such. That's gotten better, but if she isn't tech at all, and you go PC, Windows 7 might be better. Polywell's got pretty good customer service too, actually quite good, and they're built here in the US. My 2 cents. They have some really small 'nano' computers that aren't badly priced and should easily have enough ‘umph’ for what you’re describing.
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a2thec

In what world is a mac mini "bad ass"???? plus extremely over priced "monitor" or small TV is what they should call it. You should look into any tablet, they are cheap and do all that stuff you listed, are portable and can be hooked up to a TV with no tech knowledge, literally plug the wire in the tv like a frickin power plug, bam works....Samsung has them starting at $150 at bestbuy etc, but if you need her to be tied down in one spot with less options you can get a desktop. It all really depends on how computer illiterate she is, and if she NEEDS her iphone to "play nice" with her computer and just works (read: idiot proof)
I've personally looked into a mini PC custom built for my TV which altogether was under $500 for a real badass setup with 500GB SSD, latest Intel i7, 16GB RAM just to watch movies on, they have complete boxes put together on Amazon for ya starting at $200 Intel Next. Also a chromebox is cheap and VERY easy, hard to F-up and requires no setup.

PS: In a perfect world people wouldn't be so set on getting something trendy and they wouldn't be so lazy and ignorant about everything around them.
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