Gone are the days when computers were for “the kids” and grandma and grandpa had to make do with a telephone call. Today’s senior citizens are just as likely to be emailing, shopping, banking and tweeting online as they are to mail a letter, drive to the mall, make a bank deposit in person or phone a friend. The best laptops and accessories for senior citizens range from easy to use computers that arrive with software installed to super-charged yet easy to use laptops with intuitive design. The trick to finding the best laptops for senior citizens is to take into account the user’s comfort and familiarity with computers and to buy the best model that’s within the available budget.
This guide to the best laptops and accessories for senior citizens includes plenty of helpful information to use when shopping for computers. Use the links below to find the information you need, or start at the top and work your way to the end. Links sprinkled throughout the article will take you to more information on the topic.
Considerations When Purchasing Laptops for Senior Citizens
Before shopping for a new laptop, keep in mind the following considerations.
- How comfortable are you with computers? Some seniors are brand new to the world of computers, while others have used them for work or hobbies for many years. Those who are new to computers may benefit from modern touch-screen technology or brands with more intuitive navigation and apps.
- Accessibility: Some senior citizens can use any laptop without a problem, but others may need adaptive devices to use their laptops. Accessories can be added to a laptop such as a mouse, large-key keyboard, utility managers and more to make them easier to use.
- How will the laptop be used? Knowing in advance how you wish to use your laptop can help you navigate the seemingly endless choices when it comes to laptops. If you need your laptop for email, internet connections and pictures, a budget model may be fine. Those running more extensive software or business software may need a heartier laptop with additional memory or processing power. Make a list in advance of shopping for your laptop of all the things you know you will do on your laptop and the things you are dreaming about doing. Then organize the list into “must haves” and “nice to haves”. This will help you narrow your choices as you shop for a laptop.
- What software will you need? Your list will also help you determine which software programs you may need to run on your new laptop. Some laptops for senior citizens come preloaded with basic software, while others leave it up to the user to purchase and install additional software. Software purchases add up, so keep some budget set aside for additional software if you think you will need it. Some software packages you might wish to consider include robust email management systems like Microsoft Outlook, graphic design and image software such as Illustrator or Photoshop, or Microsoft Office for Word, Excel and other programs. Most laptops do, however, come with basic word processing software and internet browser already installed. You can also start off with the software that comes with your laptop and add on from there as needed.
- What is your budget? Computer and laptop prices have dropped significantly over the last few years to the point where a laptop with great computing power costs significantly less now than it did years ago. Budget, however, is still a factor. Just as when shopping for a car you can spend $50,000 or $10,000, when shopping for a laptop you can buy a supercharged model for thousands of dollars or a simple, functional model for a few hundred.
While most laptops are ready to use right out of the box, if you think you need help getting your new laptop set up and maintaining it, be sure to look into service packages, too.
The 10 Best Laptops for Senior Citizens
The following laptops received high ratings from individuals who’ve purchased them for themselves or for elderly parents and grandparents. Each laptop was evaluated for ease of use, any accessibility issues, functionality and price.
1. Toshiba Qosmio X875-Q7390 17.3-Inch 3D Laptop
The Toshiba Qosmio has two wonderful features that make it perfect for senior citizens. First, it runs on Windows 8. If you haven’t used the latest Windows platforms, you may be in for a shock at first, but the shock soon wears off and you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Large, customizable desktop icons put email, weather, news and frequently used programs right at your fingertips without complicated menus to navigate. The click pad is also slightly larger than other laptops, which makes it easier for those new to using a click pad to accurately select items on screen. The bright 17.3 inch screen is also a plus for seniors, making it easy to watch movies, view photos, and read text online. It’s a little hefty at 7.3 pounds, but overall, a great laptop value for the money, with many features to recommend it to senior citizens.
- Packs a lot of computing power into one laptop.
- Large, bright screen.
- Excellent memory and fast processing capacity.
- Windows 8 (or 8.1) offers intuitive navigation for those new to computers or just learning.
- Compatible with Toshiba accessories such as a separate mouse or keyboard for greater adaptability.
- Some users reported that the system freezes with continued use. Shutting it down properly and running routine maintenance may prevent this problem.
- Some users reported overheating issues.
- Battery life can shorten with use (but new batteries can be purchased and installed).
2. HP Pavilion 17.3″ Laptop i3 2.40GHz 6GB 750GB Windows 8 (17-e040us)
Like the previous recommendation, the HP Pavilion laptop offers plenty of computing power for the money. It has a big, bright screen and intuitive Windows 8 operating system. The difference between the two models is in the weight and the battery life. The HP Pavilion weighs almost a full pound less, but offers a far shorter battery life (4 hours) than the competing Toshiba. The tradeoff may be worth it for some users who need a lightweight machine but can reach an outlet for current rather than rely on a battery. The HP Pavilion also includes “HP CoolSense” which keeps the exterior laptop shell cool to the touch, so it doesn’t get hot and hurt your lap or the computer itself.
- Has plenty of build in features include webcam, DVD and CD burner and more.
- Includes HP apps.
- Includes free Windows 8.1 upgrade if you purchase one with 8.0
- Numerous hardware issues reported by users that made shut down impossible or difficult.
- Keyboard doesn’t light up the way some laptop keyboards do, so it may be difficult to see for people with low vision.
3. Apple MacBook Pro MF839LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display
Apple Macbooks are a consistent, high quality laptop, and the Macbook Pro with Retina Display doesn’t disappoint. Even though the screen is among the smallest recommended, with a 13.3 inch display, it won’t feel small. Crisp, clear images and a backlit keyboard make this a great little computer.
- Fast processor and great computing power.
- Apple operating system is easy and intuitive.
- Retina display is terrific for people with poor eyesight.
- Lightweight aluminum shell.
- On the expensive side among the recommended laptops.
- Some users reported it crashes when using photo programs.
- Users reported power problems, including overheating and power cords breaking after use.
4. ASUS N550JK-DS71T 15.6″ Full-HD Touchscreen Quad Core i7 Laptop w/ Aluminum-Body, 8GB RAM & 1TB HD
ASUS may not be a brand as well known as Toshiba, HP or Apple, but ASUS computers offer a lot of value for the money. This ASUS offers a large 15.6 HD screen with touch screen capabilities. Touch screens may be much easier for newcomers to laptops to use. Simply touch the Windows 8 icons and you’re accessing your email, your favorite browser, weather, stock market reports and more. The lightweight aluminum body houses 8 GB of RAM with a fast processer and sleek design.
- High praise for the beautiful display, touch screen and touch pad, and the many built-in features.
- Solid and responsive keys on the keyboard may feel more like a ‘real’ computer keyboard than on other laptop models.
- Back-lit keyboard for easier typing.
- Processor can be slow and prone to bottlenecks if running multiple programs at once.
- More expensive than many other models.
- Several users reported issues with the screen turning black and unable to display a picture. Could not be fixed, had to return it for a refund or exchange.
5. Dell Inspiron i3542-5000BK 15.6-Inch Touchscreen Laptop
Dell is a trusted name in computers, and for good reason. Many of their products offer great value for the money, and this Dell Inspiron laptop doesn’t disappoint. The touch screen is easy to use and navigate, especially for people just starting with laptops, and this model comes with Windows 8.1 for the latest operating system. It’s also quite reasonably priced and offers a reliable computer for the money.
- Great computer for the average user.
- Includes a numeric keypad.
- Case is easy to clean and keep free of fingerprints.
- Bold, bright graphics.
- Users complained about hard drive problems right out of the box.
- Difficult to get hold of Dell customer service.
6. Acer Aspire 17.3-Inch Laptop Intel Core, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bits
The Acer Aspire offers a large, clear screen with great picture quality that makes it easy to see what you’re doing as you surf the net, answer emails, or work with your photos. Optional touch screen or mouse offers great options for seniors familiar with computers or just starting out. This is an inexpensive option with a lot of computer power packed into a sleek package.
- Windows 7 operating system for people who prefer the older style Windows.
- Gets high marks for web browsing, record keeping and basic tasks.
- Build in Wi-Fi is fast.
- Soft keyboard for light touch typing.
- Space bar tends to be quirky; some people say you have to tap it right in the center in order for it to work.
- Other issues related to “sticky” keys and malfunctioning keys.
7. HP 14-q070nr 14-Inch Chromebook
If you don’t mind using a Chromebook, this HP Chromebook offers a great value in a little package. Chromebooks differ from traditional laptops by running software off of the web instead of from the hard drive. You’ll need to be connected to the internet in order to run basic applications such as spreadsheets, typing in Word, etc. However, for those on a limited budget, this lightweight, highly portable and fast model does the job adequately and connects to you all the important websites you need and want to see.
- Very inexpensive – typically under $300.
- Fast internet connection.
- You don’t have to worry about malware and viruses because it runs on Google OS.
- May be an ‘acquired taste’ for those already proficient with computers.
- Battery life can be shorter than desired.
8. Apple MacBook Air MD712LL/B 11.6-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION)
Like the Chromebook, the Apple Macbook Air is a smaller machine than others featured, but offers a lot for the money. Apple’s intuitive design, and fast, reliable machines are a favorite among users, and many people swear by the brand. If you’re new to computers, Apple may be easier to get used to than other machines. The Apple Macbook Air features 9 hours of battery life to run your favorite applications, plenty of ports to connect to other devices, and preloaded productivity software so you can start using your new computer immediately. A good value and good introductory model to the Apple line.
- Great travel laptop – lightweight and easily carried wherever you go.
- Very reliable.
- Fast start up and shut down.
- A little pricier than Windows-based models.
- Small screen may be difficult for those with poor vision to use easily.
9. MSI GE70 Apache Pro-012 17.3-Inch Laptop
The MSI GE70 Apache offers the ultimate package for the serious computer user. A colorful backlit keyboard, a huge 17.3 inch screen, Windows 8.1…the list of features just keeps coming with the Apache. The screen offers large, clear graphics with a matte finish so it doesn’t show fingerprints, and the fast speed and heavy memory make this a favorite for entertainment such as watching videos, movies or playing games.
- Amazing memory and computer power in a lightweight laptop.
- One of the top-ranked keyboards among laptops.
- Very powerful computer for the price.
- Reports of the device shutting down without warning.
- Some users report that an upgrade to a new driver helped their computer run faster.
10. Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook
This last choice for best laptops for seniors features another Chromebook, this one an extremely lightweight, portable model by Toshiba. Like other Chromebooks, it runs most software directly from the internet, which necessitates an internet connection in order to use many common applications. It has a long battery life, and at under 4 pounds, makes it very easy to carry with you wherever you go.
- Battery charges quickly and holds a charge for up to 9 hours.
- Fast internet connection and surfing.
- Brighter screen than many other Chromebooks.
- Longer documents can be cumbersome to edit in the online word processing software.
- Problems reported with the finish flaking, chipping and scratching after only a few months of use.
Must-Have Accessories for Your Laptop
If you’re a first time laptop buyer, you may be surprised to learn that your new purchase doesn’t come with many accessories. Some laptops may not even come with productivity (word processing, accounting /spreadsheets, etc) software installed. Be sure to read the description of the laptop thoroughly, and note which software packages you might need when you buy your laptop. Most can be purchased and downloaded directly from the internet, giving you access to a wealth of programs and the convenience of shopping for them from your home.
Once you’ve got your laptop up and running, there are several categories of accessories you might want to investigate, depending on how you plan to use your new computer. These include:
- Cases and bags to carry to laptop and protect it from scratches and dings;
- Large screen keyboard letters, which a great for people with low vision;
- A separate mouse to use instead of the touch screen, which may be easier for those used to traditional desktop units;
- Cooling pads, especially useful for the more powerful laptops, gaming laptops, and people who plan to use their laptops for long periods of time;
- External storage, to store important documents, photos and more.
- Books to help you get the most from your computer.
Cases and Bags
As you’re shopping for laptop cases and bags, be sure to note the size of your laptop. Bags come in different sizes to accommodate different screen sizes of laptops.
- Snugg Laptop Messenger Bag in Black Leather for Laptop Computer, Notebook & Tablets: This gorgeous leather messenger bag lets you transport your laptop in style. Six pockets inside the bag and four on the outside provide plenty of space for documents, memory sticks, cords and more. Available in black or brown leather.
- GRACESHIP Women’s Laptop Bag – “London” Computer Bag / Briefcase / Messenger Bag: Have you ever noticed that most laptop bags look like men’s briefcases? Not the London Computer bag! It looks like your favorite Hermes bag, reminiscent of Grace Kelly and the glamour of old Hollywood. It’s a sleek bag that protects your laptop and matches your best professional or leisure outfit.
- Kayond®Bohemian Style Canvas Fabric Ultraportable Neoprene 13-13.3 Inch Laptop / Notebook Computer / MacBook / MacBook Pro / MacBook Air Carrying Case (sunlight 13-13.3inch): Another fashionable choice, the Kayond laptop bag features flexible neoprene with a sporty, casual look. This bag fits smaller laptops and tablets adequately, especially MacBook Air and similar models.
- Everki Advance Laptop Bag – Briefcase, Fits up to 18.4-Inch (EKB407NCH18): If you’re splurging for a 17 inch or greater screen laptop, you need a bag that can accommodate it. The Everki offers a stylish, classic laptop computer bag with padding to protect sensitive equipment and a sturdy handle that should live up to years of use.
- Altego Coated Canvas Cyan 17″ Laptop Backpack for Apple MacBook Pro + iPad Pocket- Black (36300): If you prefer a backpack style, the Altego offers a coated canvas backpack that fits many medium to large sized computers. Recommended for Apple Macbook.
Keyboard Letters and Adaptability Accessories
- English US Large Letters Upper case: (Manufactured 4Keyboard): These large, brightly colored letters peel and stick directly to your keyboard to make the keys easier to see. They’re also good to use when you’ve worn away the letters but aren’t ready to buy a new laptop.
- Glowing fluorescent Large Lettering English US keyboard sticker: Another set of stickers, this one with glowing, fluorescent letters to use in low lit areas.
- Plantronics SAVI W440 Convertible, Wireless DECT Headset System for Laptop, Softphone & Multimedia Use – Black & Silver: While a headset may not be necessary, having a wireless headset enables you to make and receive telephone calls via Skype and other online systems with ease through your laptop.
- Plantronics MCD100-M USB Speakerphone: The Plantronics USB speakerphone enables you to listen and speak over the telephone without lifting a receiver or putting on a headset. Simply connect this device through the USB port, and you’re on your way to sending, receiving and listening to conference calls or telephone calls over your computer.
- Laptop Buddy Laptop Desk and Cup Holder – Blue (72-698006): This soft, pliable laptop holder offers a secure grip on your computer and helps you balance it on your lap. Fleece lining makes it extra comfortable.
Laptops typically come with track pads; you use the tips of your fingers to move the cursor and click on items on screen. Some users love track pads, others who are used to a traditional computer mouse prefer the feel and ease of a separate product. If you’d prefer a traditional computer mouse, the following are highly recommended by online reviews.
- Logitech M510 Wireless Mouse: Logitech’s wireless mouse is one of the world’s best selling products. Features wireless connection and good accuracy as well as comfortable fit for your hand.
- Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 – Graphite: The Microsoft Wireless mouse also gets rave reviews from users. It uses an optical sensor for precision tracking.
- Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball: People who experience wrist, hand and arm pain when using a traditional computer mouse find this particular model a lot more comfortable.
- Logitech V150 Laser Notebook Mouse: This Logitech model notebook mouse features USB connecting cable and precision laser control.
- Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 for Windows 8 Touch Gestures: For those purchasing a laptop with Windows 8, the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse is especially designed to work easily with the touch screen buttons of Windows 8.
Cooling pads keep both the bottom of your laptop and your lap from overheating. Once the purview of gamers who spent long hours on their laptops, cooling pads are now common and used by people who want extend the life of their laptops and prevent overheating.
- Chill Mate Laptop Cooling Pad – Fits 15″ and smaller laptops and notebooks: The Chill Mate works great for smaller laptops, notebooks and other devices. It’s slim, lightweight and portable, and comes apart for easy cleaning of the fan blades.
- Cooler Master NotePal X3 – Gaming Laptop Cooling Pad with 200mm Blue LED Fan: The Cooler Master works more like a desktop stand with fans for your laptop. It keeps it cool, and blows air back and away from you so that both you and your computer are comfortable. Heavy duty fans work well for gaming computers and some of the more robust models.
- CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Laptop Cooling Pad with Two 140mm Turbine Fans (SGA-4000-KKNF1): This is the ultimate cooling pad for those who spend the most time on their computers. Multiple settings allow for customization of the device.
- Superbpag(TM) USB Powered and Efficient Metal Cooler Pad Laptop Cooling Pad with Laptop Stand (6-fans-BL): Six fans are built right into this combination of cooling pad and desk laptop stand. It connects to the laptop by USB port so it doesn’t need a special port to operate.
- Thermaltake Massive23 LX Laptop Notebook Cooler Oversized 230mm Blue LED Fan USB CLN0015: The Thermaltake cooling pad isn’t just oversized, it’s also beautiful and quiet, a winning combination for people who want to spend more time on their computer without the drone and annoyance of a fan.
External Storage Devices
Whether or not you need a separate external storage device really depends on the laptop you buy and how you’re using it. Users who take and share a lot of pictures or videos, or who rely upon their laptops to store important documents and papers may find that an external storage device offers additional space as well as peace of mind. External storage devices have memory capacity that adds to whatever computer memory is on your laptop already. They can store documents or back up the originals so that if anything happens to your computer, the documents are safe and can be moved to a new computer. Most external storage devices connect via a USB cable that plugs into your laptop whenever you want to use it. You can unplug it and store it elsewhere whenever it’s not in use.
- WD My Passport for Mac 1TB Portable External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.0 (WDBLUZ0010BSL-NES: If you’re purchasing a Mac product, this external hard drive storage is compatible with your Macbook. It features a tremendous amount of storage space and a slim, portable design.
- WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Auto Backup – Black: Similar to the first product, this storage device is compatible with PC-based laptops. Storage capacity is similar to the WD MyPassport for Mac.
- Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STBX1000101): The Seagate Expansion drive also offers plenty of storage space for important documents and projects. The slim profile of this hard drive also makes it appealing for use with laptops.
- Silicon Power Rugged Armor A80 1 TB 2.5-Inch USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 Military Grade Portable External Hard Drive SP010TBPHDA80S3B (Blue): Are you tough on your computer equipment? Tend to drop things? Then check out the Silicon Power Rugged Armor hard drive. It connects easily through a USB port but appears to be more durable, another plus for those who purchased their laptops for their portability.
- Transcend 1 TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive – Military Drop Standards (TS1TSJ25M3): Like the Silicon Power Rugged Armor external hard drive, the Transcend hard drive is manufactured up to military standards, with a rugged, durable, shock-resistant shell that withstands drops and jolts. Connects through a simple USB port and holds a tremendous amount of data.
Are you new to computers? Not sure how to use Windows 8 or its new friend, Windows 8.1? The following books for seniors just starting out with computers or updating their computer skills offer good basic, introductory level information on various operating systems and technologies.
- Windows 8.1 for Seniors: For Senior Citizens Who Want to Start Using Computers (Computer Books for Seniors series): Learn how to use Windows 8.1, the revolutionary touch-screen operating system that offers intuitive navigation and more.
- Windows 8.1 For Seniors For Dummies: The “For Dummies” book series offers step by step guidance, an easy icon system to identify important information, and a large print format to make it easy to read and use while you get up to speed on your new laptop.
- Internet and E-mail for Seniors with Windows 8: For Senior Citizens Who Want to Start Using the Internet: Learn how to use internet and email with your new Windows 8 enabled laptop in this handy guide especially written for seniors.
- Digital Photo Editing with Picasa for Seniors: Get Acquainted with Picasa: Free, Easy-to-Use Photo Editing Software: Picasa is a free software that you can use to download and edit all your photos. This book will show you how to use Picasa and create original works using your images.
- Mac OS X Mavericks for Seniors: Learn Step by Step How to Work with Mac OS X Mavericks: Mac users will love this simple guide to the Mac operating system. Large print edition and easy to navigate contents make it a great companion for anyone new to using a Mac-based laptop.
For more information about shopping for laptops and accessories, as well as getting the most from your new laptop, the following websites provide additional information.
- Skillful Senior: This intriguing website offers tutorials and more to help seniors make the most of their computers.
- Microsoft Accessibility: Tips from Microsoft on how to adapt your computer to common situations faced by seniors.
- The Senior’s Guide to Computers: This website offers a glossary of basic computing terminology and helpful articles for seniors new to computers.
- GCF Learn Free.org: Often cited as a good resource for beginners, GCF Learn Free offers basic computing courses online.
- 25 Free Social Networking Classes: While not specifically for seniors, this list of classes will help anyone learn how to use social media like a pro. Whether you’re a casual user just interested in keeping up with friends and family or harnessing the power of social media for your business, you can find a class here.