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simPC - Your Grandparents' New Computer? 428

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-not-easy-enough dept.
trs9000 writes "The Register has a blurb about simPC, an "idiot-proof" PC set to debut in May of this year. It seems like a step towards a thin-client world, though it is aimed primarily at the elderly. For about $400 for the box and a $13-per-month subscription, users get a box with a propietary OS and software preinstalled for online banking, spam filtering, virus detection and online storage. What users don't get is the ability to install software, burn CDs or download large files. Initial release is only for the Netherlands and Belgium."
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simPC - Your Grandparents' New Computer?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:51PM (#11345219)
    You insenstive clod!

    And isn't this the name of that Indian computer?
  • by sjrstory (839289) * on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:51PM (#11345221) Homepage
    Nothing is idiot-proof to a sufficiently talented idiot... :)
    • by Manchot (847225)
      Teenagers, twenty-somethings, and Slashdotters everywhere are rejoicing at the thought of not having to fix their parents' and grandparents' computers.

      • Re:idiot-proof (Score:5, Informative)

        by emjoi_gently (812227) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:29AM (#11345489)
        What about us 40 years olds who have to fix the damn teenagers PCs filled with spyware.

        I don't know what my neices are doing, but their PCs seem to soak up spyware like a sponge.

        Stop clicking on "YES" when those popups appear on websites, kids!
        • Re:idiot-proof (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:52AM (#11345617) Homepage Journal

          I don't know what my neices are doing, but their PCs seem to soak up spyware like a sponge.

          I know exactly what they're doing [microsoft.com], and you can stop it [getfirefox.com]. Firefox's XPI system has a whitelist of approved plug-in sources reviewed by actual human beings, unlike ActiveX where any spyware publisher that slips Verisign a couple hundred USD can get on the whitelist. If you have a good enough software firewall on the nieces' PC, you can implement your own whitelist and prohibit explorer.exe and iexplore.exe from accessing any host outside of Microsoft.com, which should block spyware but not Windows Update.

          • Well, yeah there's that, and trying out every P2P program on the planet, most of which seem to come along with an uninvited guest.
            They're curious kids. And as with teenage sex, they grab at whatever looks pretty without thinking too hard about what might come along with it, downloading all kinds of junk. I've tried to educate them in having a bit of restraint. (in downloading stuff... the sex thing is up to their parents (I hope))
        • Re:idiot-proof (Score:5, Informative)

          by arivanov (12034) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @02:21AM (#11346092) Homepage

          Teenagers will not take this one. Too bland sluggish and weak for their taste. Speaking out of experience as I have one in the house and quite a few in the office (circa 20-30).

          The PC on the picture is LeX. http://www.lex.com.tw/ [lex.com.tw]. It exists in 2 major incarnations - 533 MHz C3 and 800 MHz C3. The first is fully passive cooling, the second is fanned. Both incarnations have subvariants with 1-3 10/100 Realtek or 10/10/1000 Intel Ethernets. Video is Cyberblade with shared RAM, audio and on-board chipset is Via. There is 3", 2", CF and disk on chip connector on board. The standard disk is a 2". Can take up to 512MB 133 SDRAM using a single low profile DIMM. DC to DC convertor on board, external 12V DC power supply.

          The 3 interface variety make very good firewalls and routers.

          The price quoted on the website is barely just above what Lex charges for the 533 with a minimal disk or flash and minimal RAM. This means that it is running either Linux or QNX.

          The systems are nice, but I would not recommend them for use in anything but a dedicated server/system or a diskless terminal.

          The reasons for this are:

          • Bad cooling especially on the 533. If you add a disk the heat generation in the case is nearly always above the thermal throttle threshold. This makes the machine go sluggish even with minimal use.
          • The video is quite sluggish and if pushed to higher frequencies takes a lot of the system memory bandwidth.
          As far as spec is concerned the Lex is a very advanced typewriter with a reasonable audio (all proper mini-ITX VIA motherboards have a better one). It crawls when used under Linux 2.4, 2.6 is passable but still slow. BSD 5.x is quite good as it seems to take advantage of the thermal throttle in a better way. Windoze is barely standable. It should also run QNX and a few other suspects.
        • by lxs (131946)
          What about us 40 years olds who have to fix the damn teenagers PCs filled with spyware.

          What about the damn teeagers who have to fix the 40 years old's PCs filled with pr0n dialers?

          Stop replying to: "H...Awtt..Brittannee w4itz 4 U" mails, dads!
        • Re:idiot-proof (Score:3, Interesting)

          by elgatozorbas (783538)
          What about us 40 years olds who have to fix the damn teenagers PCs filled with spyware.

          Ho, the opposite also holds, I'm 29 and my dad is 54. Every time I need to use his PC, I am horrified to see he disabled virus scanners, ad-aware tools etc, and installed 'interesting' tools to connect to time servers on the internet etc. Worst of all, he's an engineer too, but doesn't seem to care too much (though he knows about these things). Mid-life crisis, I guess. His way of 'living on the edge'...

          Z

    • Warning! (Score:5, Funny)

      by djward (251728) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:31AM (#11345505)
      2) Do not eat simPC.
      • DonsimPC (Score:4, Funny)

        by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:28AM (#11345793) Homepage
        simPC!

        -only $14.95-

        * Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to simPC.
        * Caution: simPC may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
        * simPC Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
        * Do not use simPC on concrete.

        Discontinue use of simPC if any of the following occurs:

        * Itching
        * Vertigo
        * Dizziness
        * Tingling in extremities
        * Loss of balance or coordination
        * Slurred speech
        * Temporary blindness
        * Profuse sweating
        * Heart palpitations

        If simPC begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

        simPC may stick to certain types of skin.

        When not in use, simPC should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration...

        Failure to do so relieves the makers of simPC, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

        Ingredients of simPC include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

        simPC has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

        Do not taunt simPC.

        simPC comes with a lifetime guarantee.

        simPC

        ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
    • Or the classic quote...

      "Make something idiot-proof, and they'll invent a better idiot."
    • by sowdog81 (739008) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:22AM (#11345772)
      "Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."
      -- Rich Cook
    • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @04:41AM (#11346623) Homepage
      Because you have to be an idiot to pay $400 for a crippled computer and then pay $13/month for the privilege of using it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:51PM (#11345225)
    How soon we forget: webtv, iopener, audrey etc.

    It's not easy selling computers to people who don't buy computers. WebTV was a lot cheaper than this, and sold very poorly, not because it wasn't a good value but because it was targeted
    at people who don't buy this stuff! At $400 + $13/mo, you not only have the "I'm just not interested" factor, but also the "are you kidding, I can't afford that!" factor.

    I just don't understand why people keep trying these "basically it's a crippled PC" business models. It's been proven so many times that even with a decent product and huge marketing budget, they just don't sell.

    On related note, I'd like to share a little secret about the Philips Sonicare [sonicare.com] toothbrush. Now, anyone who's used the Sonicare knows that this thing really does a fantastic job on teeth and gums. It's got some seriously powerful, high frequency action. Well, it turns out that the slender angled neck is perfect not only for reaching those tricky back molars, but is also perfectly suited for navigating the details of the inner labia. WARNING: do not stampede for the clitoris! The Sonicare is just too powerful to go there without careful warming up. You should probably also steer clear of the bristly side at first. I strongly recommend enabling the 14-day EasyStart feature, which gradually ramps up
    the power as she becomes comfortable with it. Good luck!
    • Well, hopefully that this, like many of its predicesors, will be fun to hack and crack, and will hopefully end up being cheap so we can buy a bunch of them and do CRAZY anti-DMCA things to it.
      • yeah, it'd be a lot of fun to hack the frequency up or down on the toothbrush, to preference. No two people would like the same frequency, I'll bet. And oh, the anti-DMCA things we could DO with a beowulf cluster of sonic toothbrush dildoes... (or is that dildoe?)
      • we can buy a bunch of them and do CRAZY anti-DMCA things to it.

        The site says it can't burn CDs, and though there are no hardware (or software -- but my money's on Linux, as it touts being able to play "some" games and use "approved" printers, which sounds like Wine to me) specs, there is a floppy disk in one photo, so possibly it has a floppy drive. Also it needs DSL, probably an internal DSL modem with an RJ11 jack -- maybe someone could hack a network connection out of that. Anyway, if it gets boring, t

    • Now, anyone who's used the Sonicare knows that this thing really does a fantastic job on teeth and gums.

      The Soniccare starts at $50. You can get a high quality, variable-speed vibrator for far less, and still have money for cheap dinner or a few drinks.
    • You make a good point. The Sonicare's multifunctionality is what makes it useful!

      Is a crippled PC even worth it?

      Actually...for $400 and a subscription it better be a pretty decent PC, and the subscription better cover basic internet access.

      E-machines used to be free with a two year MSN subscription. That seems like a better deal for idiots.
    • Oh, but the $100 Eroscillator [eroscillator.com] is a better deal because it does come with interchangable heads AND you can vary the speeds.

      The Sonicare is about $70 and just has the bristly head as well as you have to restart it every 2 minutes... not a good thing for orgasmic pleasure.

      Just pony up the extra $30 and get one that doesn't need to be recharged AND actually works... for that purpose, that is.

    • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:20AM (#11345763)
      Actually they're only buying a computer because you never write to them. Plus they would like to keep in touch with all their friends who haven't died yet.

      So what would a computer designed for the elderly with money be like?
      Do you think that they went out and actually asked anyone over 70 years old what they would want in a computer? Not likely. Probably just had a few focus groups of five or six 20-somethings with coffee and doughnuts throwing stupid suggestions at each other. Like "Let's make it real easy to use!" (meaning: "Let's make it real easy to buy!").

      If I were really old then my body would be not functioning well, and I would not be happy about it. So what would I want in a computer?

      Well, since no young people like to live the old and the middle aged people are too busy and have enough money to get away from them, the elderly tend to live alone and lonely. They have fragile bones and if they fall down they tend to stay down a lot longer than they would forty years ago.

      So how about a PC with a microphone that will dial (the number that connects any telephone line to the authorities in the USA) and pre-recorded message requesting help to come to their address when they yell a specific phrase from the floor? A phrase like "Help! I've fallen and I can't move!". Or, "Help! I'm having a heart attack".

      How about if the PC could interface with the medical equipment that they have bought with your inheritance money? So they could just buy the sensor part and have this $400 PC do all the digital work that all expensive microprocessors inside each piece of expensive home medical equipment is now doing?

      How about an autodialer for the phone so that they can just say "Mildred? Are you home?" at the PC and have the PC dial Mildred and act like a telephone instead of having painful arthritic fingers trying to stab at little buttons that they can't see anyway on a cheap plastic phone that doesn't work well because it's been dropped so many times because it's so hard for an old person to hold?

      How about a good fast flatbed scanner interface so that they can put a paper or letter on the scanner surface and actually be able to read it on PC screen in big, big letters that can be seen with eighty-year-old eyes?

      If you are seriously trying to make a PC that old people will buy, then make a PC that is seriously helpful to older people.
      • by eclectro (227083) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @03:14AM (#11346277)
        Actually they're only buying a computer because you never write to them. Plus they would like to keep in touch with all their friends who haven't died yet.

        Including that really nice Nigerian man that they just met that has a little problem he needs some help with.
      • You're right (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Moraelin (679338)
        And not only that, but I'm thinking that there's an inherent flaw in treating users like idiots and designing a product "for idiots".

        This arrogance in the computer industry is getting on my nerves already, and I _am_ a programmer. The whole "if you get bitten by our bugs or piss-poor design, you're an idiot luser" attitude.

        The fact is, since everyone just has to compare computers to cars, computers and especially software nowadays are at the point where cars were in 1900. They were a fragile, shoddy contr
  • by TheWart (700842) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:53PM (#11345236)
    To me, this is hardly what my Grandparents need. What happens if the company goes under? Stuck with a useless pc? For roughly the same price, I would much rather them get a mac mini...would mean a whole lot less "Why can't I do this...?" type phone calls headed in my direction.
    • If you're going to waste their money on a mac mini, why not just go for the el cheapo special from dell or someone and then install Linux on it? That'd cost them 400$ too (cheaper than lamer mini mac) and the monitor (and usually printer) come with it.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:53PM (#11345238) Journal
    For $500 and $8.33 a month, you could get a Mac mini and do the same thing, with less viruses and spyware.
    • Re:Or (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647)
      " For $500 and $8.33 a month, you could get a Mac mini and do the same thing, with less viruses and spyware."

      Wow. Someone didn't even read the Slashdot story summary.

      HINT: It doesn't run Windows.
    • Re:Or (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jeif1k (809151)
      For $500 and $8.33 a month, you could get a Mac mini and do the same thing, with less viruses and spyware.

      Oh, well, no discussion of a new device, computer, or OS is complete without a bunch of Macintosh folks saying that the Macintosh did it all better and did it all first.

      But, no, the Mac Mini does not do this. Macintoshes are a little easier to maintain than Windows machines, but parents and grandparents can easily screw them up. I know: I have been in the position of fixing them.

      Another problem w
      • Re:Or (Score:3, Informative)

        by dn15 (735502)

        contrary to what people would have us believe, many products for the Mac don't "just work" but require lots of fiddling, driver downloads, software updates, and weird configuration options, that translates into many hours of work for the kids.

        That's funny, of all the hardware I use on my Mac, the scanner was the only one that wasn't automatically recognized and configured by the OS. I can't imagine what kind of freaky peripherals you must be using that required hours of fiddling, downloads, and software

    • Re:Or (Score:3, Funny)

      by BigJStudd (838390)
      I don't know what kind of superpowers your grandparents have, but my grandfather (may he rest in peace) did not have the ability to use a computer without a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
  • iOpener? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clmensch (92222) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:54PM (#11345251) Homepage Journal
    Haven't we seen these before? iOpener anyone?
  • LOL! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:54PM (#11345254) Journal
    So you pay for something which can't do most the things we find useful in a PC? Then we have to pay by the month? Hey lets just install Windows starter edition too, that way we'll have a PC which can't do anything.

    I bet this is dead within 6 months because it's so stupid.
  • What's the point if you can't do anything useful? It's like XP Starter Edition.....

    Old or not, once people realize it's useless, they won't like it.

    -thewldisntenuff
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:55PM (#11345260)
    "...boy, you can buy yourself one of them newfangledy calculatin' machines or you can sell a pig in a poke to a one-eyed man with a two-eyed mule. And if that don't set your pears to picklin' then I'm not worth a squirt of spit into an Alabama wind. Yep, that's what I'm sayin'."

    Okay, so Granny drank a hell of a lot...

  • For $400 this computer goes directly to a level of worthlessness equal to the BSOD without any annoying intermediate steps.
    This is genius.
  • I thought it was called WebTV? *shrug*
  • iMac Mini.

    That's the computer for parents and grandparents. I'm a windows weenie and I can see that. :)
  • by jarich (733129) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:58PM (#11345286) Homepage Journal
    How long before they are free with a $20 or $30 a month charge?

    With a $200 to $300 wholesale cost, they can make their money back in a year on a unit, not counting what they make with targetted advertising on their captive audience.

    Lock in grandma to a 2 year contract and you're set!

    Bundle in a few Tivo-esque features... they are already set for VOIP... might be the killer app(s) for the grandparents!

    • by xmark (177899)
      In the glory days of the dotcom boom, FreePC [freepc.com] gave away 10,000 computers, free, nada, goose-egg. No shipping, no contracts, no obligations EXCEPT you had to run their advertising overlay when you were browsing the Web.

      I know because I got one. I still couldn't believe it when the UPS man showed up with the boxes. It may be that there are VERY FEW things in life that are free, but this was one of them.

      They were cheapie little Compaqs with a Cyrix M-II CPU but at least you could brag that the price/performan
  • Businesses in the market to sell PC's to the elderly better be prepared to fail. :D

    Not to mention, most older folks probably won't think about buying a computer without talking to somebody who has one. And, of course, this bunny box will be universally unrecommended.
  • Misses the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _Hellfire_ (170113) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:59PM (#11345298) Homepage
    The unit can't burn CD's or do video editing.

    In my experience this is precisely what elderly people want to do with their PC's.

    I think a configured Mac mini with it's stable, easy to use operating system hooked up to a DSL router (ie it holds the connection for you - not the computer) is probably just as easy to use and has more of the stuff that grandparents actually want to do.

    As a side note, the proprietry OS scares me. What happens when the company goes under and there's something wrong that prevents the OS from loading (like hardware failure). Say bye-bye to the last 5 years of photos and letters from the grandkids.
    • Max OSX isn't proprietary? What happens if Apple goes bust?
      • Isn't Windows proprietary? OMG, if Microsoft goes bust, does that mean that the 50 gazillion Windows users out there won't have access to their systems? Of course not, because the Windows OS has very good industry support. The same goes for Apple. There are enough machines out there that if Apple goes under, quite a few people will be able to deal with your problem; as opposed to the SimPC which if it sells 100 units and goes bust, has absolutely no industry support backing up whatever custom never-heard-of
  • If the appliance (I have a hard time calling a specially-built and locked down machine by the term "computer") were very, very cheap or free, or if it came with a year's free service, or if the service were very inexpensive I could see how this could work.

    $400? And I don't get to do with it what I want? And everything is proprietary?
  • That's an easy call (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mnoel2 (711420)
    Mac mini + simple Finder.

    I dunno about updates, though. I know you could use Apple Remote Desktop/VNC, but it'd be nice if I could patch Granny's Mac over SSH.
    • by mister_tim (653773) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:12AM (#11345388)
      but it'd be nice if I could patch Granny's Mac over SSH.

      You can.
      ssh in, then:
      softwareupdate -l to list available updates.
      softwareupdate -i [name of package] to install the one you want.
      reboot (or shutdown -r) to reboot.
      • by phillymjs (234426)
        Even easier,

        softwareupdate -ia; shutdown -r +30

        to install all available updates and reboot the machine in 30 minutes (adjust time according to how fast your connection is or to reboot when convenient for the end-users)

        IMHO they need to add an option to softwareupdate to have it automatically reboot upon completion of all the installations, if a reboot is required by any updates.

        ~Philly
  • I'd buy my parents a MiniMac before this... at least the Mac has decent amount of software, at least Mac Office, a few games and such (not as wide as the PC, but thats vulnerable enough as-is).
  • I have one. (Score:5, Funny)

    by HackingYodel (847061) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:10AM (#11345375) Homepage
    It runs on a proprietary OS; and to prevent problems, users won't be able to install software, download big files, burn CDs or DVDs or edit videos.

    I just purchased an old Pentium Pro, MS-DOS box for $10 and it has all these features. Looks like my system was just ahead of its time.
  • by CrankyFool (680025) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:13AM (#11345395)
    It's kind of amusing, given the plethora of "well, duh, I'd get a Mac Mini" comments, to speculate what the response would have been like two days ago or, more importantly, what the people involved with this product were saying yesterday when Jobs unveiled it. Poor schmucks.
    • Monitor extra. Keyboard extra. Mouse extra. That's another $200 or so. Much more if you buy an Apple display. The Apple Mini comes in somewhere around $700.
      • I feel sorry for you if you don't think you can find a keyboard, mouse, and monitor for less than $200. Buying used, they shouldn't cost more than $50. It's really sad how people have a blindness to buying anything but brand new items at corporate big box stores.

        And I don't see anywhere it says this simPC thing comes with a monitor either.

    • Even before the Mac mini, I would probably have said "never buy a computer called "the Simp".

      Apart from the awful name the proprietary OS and monthly fee are a huge, massive turn off - what happens to your data when the monthly fee runs out? I am assuming that since they are meaning this for the simplest of folk that all data is held remotely and they own it, and it's in some wonky format they will be reluctant to free it from. Heck, even if the data is local to the box you may still have the data format
  • It runs on a proprietary OS; and to prevent problems, users won't be able to install software, download big files, burn CDs or DVDs or edit videos.

    Heck, they may as well be selling Commodore 64s.
  • by caveat (26803) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:24AM (#11345457)
    "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Mostly Harmless
  • When will they learn? The people they're trying to sell this thing to have no use for computers. Not that they aren't smart enough to use them, they simply do not. Even today, life can be lived pretty well without ever touching a computer or sending a single email. My grandparent's generation is never going to use computers, so if I want to send them mail, it's time to get out the stamps! For electronic communications I just (gasp) pick up the phone and call them.

    Most people tend to stick with whatever tec
  • They even recieved a VCR and answering machine as gifts... still in the boxes.

    It's histerical when they call and we aren't home. They don't understand the concept of talking to a robot who takes your message... it's silly to them. Making for some comical messages.

    So I don't think my grandparents will be hopping on this product.

    would rather they get a cell phone. But no... invisible wires are scairy... might trip on them.
  • But... for just 100 dollars more and without any fees attached, people can get a the new MacMini instead, which should be at least as easy to use for novices and elderly people and which doesn't limit what you can do with it artificially. So why would anyone want this? I can imagine people falling for it because they don't know better, but that's about it.
  • Why not get... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ericdano (113424) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:35AM (#11345516) Homepage
    An Mac mini?

    Simple interface. Mail program filters out most all the spam you get. No need for worrying about getting a virus.

    Why would I want a PC if the Mac mini is available?

  • a propietary OS and software preinstalled for online banking, spam filtering, virus detection and online storage

    Bank account numbers and personal information going through a new, closed operating system targeted towards old people?

    Who's going to scam them out of their money first, the usual scammers or the company itself? Or both working together?
    • I agree...it sounds like the bogus life insurance policies you see on TV geared towards senior citizens---looks good on the surface, but not much substance in it when viewed with a magnifying glass.
  • is a PC which has the ability to do exactly NOTHING.
  • If it has a proprietary OS, why does it need a virus scanner? Sounds more like it's running a modified version of windows to me.
  • This is the same thing, but repackaged, as the "i-opener" offered by NetPliance. But the i-opener was cheaper, I think $99.
  • The elderly aren't interested in being on computers and the Internet, in general.

    I listened to many meetings on this crap and as a consultant pointed out that besides the Intel POS that they were using with a proprietary Linux that we couldn't modify w/o Intel's approval, they just wouldn't accept the reality that the retirement centers and elderly at home with 2/3rds of the US money don't give a rats ass about the IT World. TiVo is cool to them because they can record their shows. That's about it.

    A

  • by wheatwilliams (605974) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:09AM (#11345715) Homepage
    mini Mac. No viruses. No spyware. Higher security. Let them download everything they want and enjoy the full multimedia experience with no restrictions.

    Easier to use. As close to trouble-free as a computer can be, for the user and the tech support (you, their son or grandson).

    Grandma still has spam and phishing to worry about, but what platform doesn't?

    I've been on the "Buy Grandma a Macintosh" campaign for years. And now it makes more sense than ever.
  • Idiot proof? For old people? yeah, ha ha... I know some grandpas that would school any of us; they've been using PCs a decade more than I. How about some of those idiot proof PCs for dumbass high school kids?
  • by pbooktebo (699003) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:23AM (#11345773)
    I just finished setting my wife's grandmother up with a Mac. We all chipped in and found her a 600Mhz Snow iMac (summer 2001 model). I got it used for $395, and the CRT monitor will let us move to an easier resolution as her eyes wind down.

    We also have her grandson across the street, and by buying her an Airport Base Station, we were able to connect her to his hi-speed internet.

    I think Simple Finder could work, but in her case I just made a little AppleScript that opens Mail, Safari, iPhoto, iTunes, and iChat (She has 640MB RAM so there's no problem). I just want to let her launch everything with one touch, let her sort using Expose, and then quit when she wants.

    No virus worries. Simple machine w/40GB drive. Damn cute looking. No noise (convection cooled). We may even add an iSight (600Mhz G3 is the minimum spec for this). This really is the perfect grandparent machine.
  • Live CDs (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeif1k (809151) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @02:06AM (#11345991)
    A PC with a Live CD (Knoppix, Ubuntu, Gnoppix, etc.) gives you something similar without being tied to a single vendor. You even get regular upgrades (subscribe to a CD burning service or have the kids burn the new CD every few months). It also comes with lots more applications out of the box.
  • by Shag (3737) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @02:17AM (#11346066) Homepage
    My parents are roughly retirement age; my father retired at the end of last year; my mom turns 65 in about a year. Although my father did work with IBM System 3 gear back in the 1960s, I am the "techie" in my branch of the family tree. (Strangely, my cousin Jon, born within a week of me, is also a techie, working for NeuStar or whatever their name is now. Must have been a solar flare around then...)

    When I was a teen, they had Commodores. I went to college, got into the x86 architecture (though not into Windows) and after some years, my parents made the move to PC's as well. Most of my computer-owning relatives have PC's as well - my sister and her husband, aunts on both sides.

    Now, I've had Macs for the last few years. I still have a Linux PC as well, but I've been making it clear to them that Windows is bad mojo, and - perhaps more importantly - that I am only going to offer them limited help with their Windows PC's. (I support Windows PC's for a living, and don't like doing it for free.) They've seen my Macs. They know I'm happy with them. And they know my Macs do nifty stuff and don't have the security problems Windows has.

    My sister and her husband have a bad case of Mac envy right now, and are saving up for one. They had been saving for an $800 eMac, but boy, does that $500 Mac mini look appealing.

    My parents just made a "things to buy" list, and there's an Apple logo on it. Again, I think the Mac mini will appeal to them, since they've already got a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.

    Where I'm going with this is: some grandparents and other people may buy a Simputer or whatever if they see Ed McMahon flogging it on an infomercial, but these days, a lot of folks have descendants or friends who are "tech-savvy," and they look to them for advice. And if those "tech-savvy" folks don't have, or don't like, a Simthingy, they'll be recommending something else, whether it's a PC or a Mac.
  • AOL tried this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by museumpeace (735109) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:42AM (#11347242) Journal
    they tried to take over my windoze completely in order make my online life more simple and secure. Going from AOL 4 to 5 to...I got off the merry-go-round at 7, I found AOL insinuated itself into all the functions it could, supplanted or ignored whatever windows features it could...
    so here comes a product that, by going it alone, succeeds completely at what AOL had attempted. And guess what? Its going to be so lame and limited even grandma is going to say "WTF!?" Besides, the usual deal with AOL was a big box retailer selling a cheapo PC and saying "we'll knock the price down to $400 IF YOU SIGN UP TO TAKE AOL FOR 2 YEARS" How is this a better deal? That way at least I got a PC with a widely supported [and targeted] if mediocre OS.
    I don't think grandma is goin to use a computer until it dawns on her that there is something she really wants and it can be done on the computer. Grandma is 60 years old and long ago decided she knows what she wants...I'm not stupid, arrogant or hopeful enough to think I could change her mind.
    Having tried to set my aged mother up with a PC that would not help theives to her bank account, I know elderly newbies deal poorly with passwords and generally regard even the most common security steps for computer use as an impediment and an affront. Does this $400 box come with surreptitious biometric lock-outs? If not, sales will be as lame as the product.

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