Laptop Guide For Seniors

Laptop Guide For Seniors

Finding the best tablets and computers for seniors can be challenging, but it’s more than doable. Yes, older adults can have a wide range of unique needs. However, computer manufacturers are continually coming up with new ways to meet those needs. From large-print keyboards to touchscreens to simplified operating systems, there are many options to help seniors stay connected with technology. In this information, we cover the Laptop Guide For Seniors.

Besides, did you know that computer use is on the rise among this demographic? A 2016 survey by Pew Research Center found that 67 percent of American adults over 65 use the Internet, up from 53 percent in a 2012 survey. About a third of respondents in the 2016 survey reported using social media (and 70 percent of those who said they check it every day). A separate Pew Research Center study revealed that 25 percent of seniors play online video games.

Laptop Guide For Seniors [Complete Guide 2022]

When choosing any device, the most important factor to consider is what you want to do with it. Do you wish to send emails and look at family photos, or are you hoping to watch movies, print documents, or create spreadsheets? Will it stay in one place in your home, or would you like it to be portable?

How much experience do you have with computers? Are there physical limitations to consider? In the end, the best device is the one that most closely meets your individual needs and preferences. The following information can help you determine precisely what that might be.

Desktop Computers vs Laptops vs Tablet

Among seniors, traditional computers such as desktops and laptops are more widely used than tablets, but tablets have become increasingly popular in recent years.

In the 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 32 percent of Americans over age 65 said they owned tablets, up from 18 percent in a 2013 survey. To select the most appropriate device, it’s important to understand how they compare. Here’s a breakdown of the differences:

Desktop Computers

Desktop computers generally have a tower or base unit, plus a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse. They come with large screens and have many options for full-size, ergonomically designed keyboards (including some with large-print keys for users with poor vision). Desktop computers have lots of processing power and storage capacity. And because they stay plugged in all the time, you can leave them running without worrying about charging a battery.

They can also be repaired or upgraded more easily than laptops. Desktop computers are well-suited for tasks like word processing, creating graphics, printing documents, or just having more than one window open at a time. However as the name implies, they are designed to stay on a desk; you can’t carry them around with you. They also take up more physical space than laptops.


Laptops are smaller, portable versions of desktop computers, with a physical keyboard and screen attached as a single foldable unit. They have a touchpad that you manipulate with your fingertips rather than a mouse you use with your whole hand, but you can always add a wireless mouse.

Like desktops, laptops are suitable for multitasking as well as creating and printing content. Laptops are generally less powerful than desktops, but they are more powerful than tablets. They also have bigger screens than tablets, with more storage space.


Tablets are about the size of a book or magazine and are the most portable option. They have touchscreens and are smaller, lighter, and thinner than both desktops and laptops. Because they have no physical keyboard or mouse, they are pretty easy to hold in your hand.

Tablets start up faster than traditional computers and generally take fewer steps to accomplish tasks. They also tend to have much better battery life than laptops.

Tablets are ideal for reading, playing games, browsing the Web, watching videos, and listening to music. However, they are typically not great for multitasking or doing lots of typing. You can often pair them with wireless keyboards, but those keyboards tend to be smaller than the full-size options available for desktops.

How to Decide What You Need

Now that you understand the basic types of devices, it’s time to think about what will work best for you. Here are some questions to consider:

What will you use it for?

Many seniors are looking to stay connected with loved ones on a simple, user-friendly device, whereas others want a more powerful machine they can use to create spreadsheets or edit photos. What do you want to be able to do with your computer? Here are some everyday tasks:

  • Reading and sending emails
  • Browsing the Web
  • Shopping or banking online
  • Keeping up with social media
  • Making video calls
  • Using a word processor and printing documents
  • Editing or storing digital photos
  • Reading e-books or digital magazines
  • Playing electronic games
  • Watching videos or listening to music
  • It’s also important to consider where you will use your device. Will it stay parked on a desk or countertop? If so, how much space do you have for it? Were you hoping to use it while lying in bed or relaxing on the couch? Does it need to fit in a handbag? Your answers will help guide your choice.

What are you already comfortable with?

Do you have experience with a particular operating system? For instance, you might prefer a traditional Windows computer or tablet if that’s the interface you’ve always known. Are you accustomed to a large screen or a full-size keyboard? If so, you might want a desktop computer or a larger laptop.

On the other hand, you might be looking to simplify your experience compared to what you’ve used before. Maybe you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a full-blown desktop system and would be happier with a pared-down laptop like a Chromebook or a user-friendly tablet like an iPad. If you’re buying a device for a senior who is not well acquainted with technology, the intuitive navigation of a tablet touchscreen might be a better option.

What are your physical capabilities?

Even seniors who are well-versed in technology may find that their devices become more difficult to use as their physical needs change. That’s why, for example, a larger screen and a keyboard with large-print keys can be helpful for older adults with vision limitations.

Some seniors find a touchscreen easier to work with, but those with hand tremors or joint issues may prefer the more precise control offered by a mouse. Portable devices work better for adults who have difficulties sitting at a desk, but tablets may not be a good option for those who struggle to hold a device in their hands. Be sure to consider any physical limitations.

What to Look For in a Device

Computer descriptions can be long and confusing. But the information below will help you cut through the jargon so that you better understand what you’re getting with a particular device. Here are five things to consider when shopping for a computer or tablet.

Size and Weight

A larger screen is more accessible to older eyes and requires less scrolling. Desktops offer the largest screens, with some going all the way up to 30 inches, but they also take up a considerable amount of space. Laptop screen sizes range from 11 to 15 inches and up. Tablets are generally between seven and 12 inches.

Anything over 15 inches is too big to be carried comfortably, so keep that in mind if you’re going for portability. Bigger also means heavier. That might not matter if your computer will stay on a desk, but it’s a real issue if you plan to carry it around. Tablets are the lightest option, but if you’re leaning toward a laptop, look for one that weighs no more than four pounds.

Operating System

The operating system (OS) is the software that makes the computer work. Different types of devices run other operating systems, so you need to decide which type is best for you.

Microsoft Windows is a widely used and highly versatile operating system that runs on desktops, laptops, and tablets. Many people are familiar with the Windows interface. These machines come in a wide range of styles and can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars.

One drawback is that they tend to go with a lot of unnecessary software, known as bloatware. Plus, they require periodic updates and are highly susceptible to viruses and malware. Android is Google’s operating system for tablets. Lots make android tablets for different companies.

Apple computers are powered by the macOS operating system (for desktops and laptops) and iOS (for iPads). Apple machines are known for being easy to learn and use, and they are highly secure, with little risk of malicious software. However, they tend to be expensive. Chromebooks are simple laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS.

They are lightweight and inexpensive and are built around the Chrome web browser. Just keep this in mind: Since these machines are meant to be used while connected to the Internet, you will need Wi-Fi to perform most tasks including retrieving your files.

For instance, Samsung and Amazon both use versions of Android on their tablets. But because there is no uniform version of the operating system, not all apps are available. If you opt for an Android device, make sure it has the features you want.


Random-access memory (RAM) is what computers use for the short-term storage of data. The more RAM a machine has, the more tasks it can accomplish at once, and the smoother it will run. Desktops and laptops should have at least 4GB of RAM. Because tablets manage memory a bit differently, RAM isn’t quite as crucial; most tablets come somewhere between 1GB and 4GB of RAM.


You also need to think about how much internal memory you will need to store your documents, photos, music, and videos. If you mostly just browse the Web and send emails, then 16GB might be enough memory. On the other hand, you will need much more if you download lots of games, songs, photos, and movies.

Maintenance and Security

Before buying any device, consider how you will protect it against viruses or cyber-attacks. As noted above, Windows machines are often targets of malicious software, making it critical to stay on top of security updates.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, see if a trusted friend or family member could handle it for you. Otherwise, you might be better off choosing a different operating system.

Chromebooks are a good low-maintenance option. They automatically apply updates and patches in the background, so you don’t have to do that yourself. You might also want to consider an iMac, MacBook, or iPad. Apple tightly controls its hardware and software and only allows downloads from approved developers, so its systems are pretty secure.

Some people do not fully appreciate the risks of downloading files or clicking on links in unsolicited emails. It’s important to educate yourself or whoever will be using the computer about the dangers of phishing and how to avoid getting caught up in scams.

This article contains affiliate links. We are compensated with a small commission, at no extra cost to you, for sales made through the links.

10 of the Best Standard Devices for Seniors

Some standard computers and tablets work well for older people, depending on their needs and budget.

MacBook Pro 13-Inch Laptop

Seniors familiar with iPhones and who appreciate Apple’s intuitive interface might want to look at the 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop. Its high-resolution Retina display, backlit keyboard, and excellent speakers make it ideal for older adults with vision or hearing challenges. It’s also very thin, measuring only 0.59 inches when closed.

Dell Inspiron i5459 All-in-One Desktop

This Windows machine is an all-in-one desktop, meaning it comes with everything you need: a workstation, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The screen is 23.8 inches wide and has full HD (high definition) resolution, so images and text are crisp and clear. A boon for seniors is that the included keyboard and mouse are wireless. That way, you can adjust your sitting position to whatever is most comfortable.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Seniors who are looking for a powerful yet portable Windows device may want to consider the Surface Pro. With its sharp 12.3-inch touchscreen and detachable keyboard, the Surface Pro can function as either a tablet or laptop. This machine can run complete Windows applications, including Microsoft Office. However, you do have to purchase the keyboard and stylus separately, which bumps up the cost.

Dell Inspiron i3464 All-in-One Desktop

Another all-in-one from Dell, the i3464, also runs Windows 10 and has a 23.8-inch screen displaying full HD. It has a slightly less powerful processor than the i5459, but it is more affordable and suitable for everyday tasks. The keyboard and mouse are wired, but you can replace them with wireless versions if you prefer.

Samsung Chromebook Pro

At 2.4 pounds, this is one of the lightest Chromebooks on the market. It has a crisp 12.3-inch touchscreen and a 360-degree hinge that allows the keyboard to fold back out of sight. That means it can function like either a laptop or a tablet. Chromebooks are great for web browsing; this one also runs Android apps.

Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM Laptop

If you’re looking for a Windows laptop with a bigger screen, you’d be wise to consider the Aspire E15. It is a solidly-built budget laptop that features an excellent 15.6-inch HD display and good-quality sound. The keyboard is backlit and very responsive. At a little over five pounds but it offers a good combination of performance and usability.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

With a 9.7-inch screen, the Galaxy Tab S3 is a thin, light tablet. It offers a beautiful display with vibrant colors, plus four excellent speakers, making it a perfect choice for seniors who want to enjoy their favorite movies or TV shows on a handheld device. The S3 also comes with a stylus, which gives you more precise control of the touchscreen.

Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi3 Desktop

It is a solid choice for seniors who want a primary desktop computer. It runs Windows 10 and delivers good performance. Moreover, It comes with a large hard drive, so there’s plenty of storage space for movies, videos, and other media.

Note that this is not an all-in-one. A wired keyboard and mouse are part of the package, but a monitor is not. You’ll have to buy one separately or connect to the one you already have.

iPad Mini 5

Apple devices are renowned for their usability, and the iPad Mini 5 offers a simple interface on a 7.9-inch screen. This tablet is small enough to fit easily in a purse or handbag and weighs only 0.66 pounds.

Its manageable size makes it great for reading and web browsing and you can hold it for extended periods without too much strain. The small on-screen keyboard can be hard to use, but you can pair it with a wireless keyboard if you’re going to be doing lots of typing.

Kindle Fire HD 8

The Kindle Fire HD 8 is an entertainment tablet at a bargain price. If you’re an Amazon Prime member and get most of your e-books, digital music, and videos from Amazon, the Fire is an easy way to enjoy them. It features a decent screen and 10 hours of battery life. It also includes Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. It’s not the most robust tablet out there, but it’s a good deal for the price.

Computers and Tablets Specifically Designed for Seniors

While many seniors are comfortable using standard devices, those who have little experience with technology may prefer a computer designed with them in mind. The information below explains a few of the available options.

Telikin Elite II 22-Inch Desktop

The Telikin claims to be the easiest computer for seniors to use. It has a plug-and-play setup and offers a simple, user-friendly interface, with large buttons anchored along the side of the touchscreen for each function: email, Web browsing, photos, games, video chat, etc. It also comes with a large-print keyboard, a wired mouse and a text-to-speech function that allows your emails to be read out loud to you.

A feature called Tech Buddy allows a designated person to access the Telikin remotely, so seniors who run into problems can get assistance from a friend or family member. However, for the price, the machine is underpowered. (It has an outdated processor and only 2GB of RAM.) Plus, it only works with certain printers, and the operating system is locked down, so you can’t install any software.

You might be better off buying a cheaper desktop computer elsewhere and adding special software to simplify things. But for tech-fearful older adults who have never used a computer before, it might fit the bill. (Telikin also offers a 15-inch touchscreen laptop as well as an 18-inch desktop model, although both of these lack text-to-speech functionality.) The company offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.

A Plus Senior Computer

A Plus offers a range of desktop and laptop computers that run Windows, but with a unique overlay that makes things easier for seniors. Initially, the screen has only three big icons for email, games and Google. Desktop models come with a 20- or 24-inch screen, large-print keyboard, and mouse. Touchscreen models are available for both desktops and laptops.

The main difference between these and the Telikin computers is that these are fully functioning Windows machines, so you can add any Windows software or connect to any standard printer. The hardware is also better quality than the Telikin with a faster processor, 4GB of RAM and plenty of ports for connecting other devices. The company also claims to offer lifetime anti-virus protection, so security updates should be taken care of. You can try one of the computers risk-free for 30 days.


Designed for adults over 75 who have never used a computer or have vision, hearing, or motor skill challenges, the GrandPad is an eight-inch simplified tablet. It allows seniors to make video calls, view photos, send and receive an email (including the ability to record voice emails instead of typing them), listen to music, and play games all just by tapping one of the giant colorful buttons on the touchscreen.

Family members can download a free companion app that will allow them to send photos and videos directly to their loved one’s GrandPad. Family members can also work with company support to specify what types of content should be automatically sent to the GrandPad.

There is no Web browser, and users can only get calls or emails from approved contacts, so seniors don’t need to worry about spam or security. There are also no passwords to remember or settings to configure. However, the device relies on 4G connectivity, so there is a hefty monthly fee. And if you cancel the plan, you must return the tablet to the company.

Claris Companion

Another simplified tablet, the Claris Companion, has a 10-inch touchscreen with a customized interface. It’s designed to enable elderly parents to connect with loved ones and caretakers and receive reminders about appointments and medications.

Large circles on the screen activate various functions, such as photos, email and text messages, and Web browsing. Seniors can also use the “Check-In” button to send a message to family members saying they’re all right.

Care providers or family members can manage the device remotely and send photos and messages, set reminders, create contacts, allow access to certain websites, and more. For example, if seniors miss a medication reminder or fail to check in, family members can receive an alert. Both Wi-Fi and 4G models are available directly from Claris Companion, but both incur a monthly fee.

Software Solutions That Simplify Computers and Tablets for Seniors

In many cases, a standard device can be made more senior-friendly with the help of special software. Here are a couple of options:

Oscar Senior

Oscar Senior is an app that allows any tablet to turn into a simplified device for information, entertainment, and communication. The app provides a simple, secure interface with enlarged text and big icons that enable older adults to make video calls, play games, surf the Web, check social media, get the latest news and more.

A family member (who must also download the app) acts as a designated administrator and can remotely manage the senior’s contacts and content. An administrator can even make a video call to the senior and have it auto-answered, so the old can get connected without even having to touch the tablet.

The senior cannot close the app or download any additional apps, and the interface blocks popups and alerts from third parties. However, administrators can quickly exit the app so that you can use the tablet for other things. The app is free for seven days, but then a subscription is required.


You can make a standard personal computer much easier for seniors to use by downloading the free Eldy software. It works on older computers running Windows 7 as well as some Android tablets. Eldy transforms the screen into a simplified menu of six large buttons for accessing the Internet, email, video calls and more.

Navigation is easy, as there is always a button along the bottom for returning to the main screen. Users can also close the software to use the computer as usual. (They get warnings asking them if they’re sure that’s what they want to do.) If they are going to go back to Eldy, they just click on the Eldy icon.

Final Thought

We have described the Laptop Guide For Seniors in a very comprehensive way. With the vast array of options for tablets and computers for seniors, it’s easier than ever to reap the benefits of technology. Finding the best option is a matter of deciding what you’d like to accomplish and what you’re most comfortable with. Whatever your particular needs, you can find a device to suit you.

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