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Eldergadget's Senior friendly Guide to Mini Laptops
Eldergadget.com's Nellie Day gives a brief overview on what to look for if you are buying a mini laptop.
Mini laptops are just what the name suggests: they’re smaller version of full-sized laptops. While many features from a standard laptop also appear in mini laptops, their smaller sizes do create some differences between the two products.
There are advantages to mini laptops, such as a lighter weight and lower price, and some disadvantages, such as a slower processor and less memory. A mini laptop may not be for everyone, but if you use your current laptop mostly for Internet surfing and word processing, then you could benefit from a smaller, more portable model. Check out the features below.
The mini laptop’s portability is one of its main advantages. Therefore, naturally you want a model that’s light enough to carry conveniently. Most minis weigh about three pounds, but some weigh as little as one pound, making them extremely friendly to those seniors who have muscle weakness.
Large Screen size
One of the drawbacks to a smaller, more compact computer can be a reduction in screen size. If you have poor eyesight, however, you still have a few options. There are many mini laptops with 10-inch screens, and even a few with 12-inch screens. You won’t find much larger than this (and you shouldn’t)
Long Battery Life
What good is buying an uber-portable mini if you’re tethered to an outlet the whole time? Fortunately, many models boast six-cell batteries, which may add a few ounces of weight to the model, but are worth the added battery life. Six-cell batteries will give you about eight hours of word processing and net surfing time. Three-cell batteries will provide about five hours, and four-cell batteries will give you six or so hours.
Sufficient Memory and Storage
Another feature you often have to sacrifice with minis is data storage and memory. Standard models will come with 1 GB of RAM, though many of today’s advanced models are equipped with 3GB to 5GB. Standard hard drives provide 160GB, though, again, plenty of models offer 250GB or 320GB. Optional flash drives can add another 5GB to 16GB of space.
Using a mini isn’t exactly the same as a laptop. Everything is shrunk down a bit, including the keyboard. While you’re not likely to find a full-sized keyboard on a mini laptop, you should try to find one as close to a normal laptop’s size as possible if you have poor eyesight or problems working with smaller keys or a condense wrist rest.
A smaller screen may make a high resolution even more vital to senior eyes. Many popular models contain a resolution of 1,024 by 600 pixels. The clearest screens, however, will boast a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels.
The thicker the laptop, the bulkier and clunkier it will be. Some models are pencil-thin, with widths that hover around one inch. If you’re prone to dropping or banging objects due to poor eyesight, limited dexterity or arthritis, you may want to opt for a thicker model. Otherwise, go with the slimmer, sleeker design.
Another great benefit of mini laptops is the price. Because you get less power, speed and weight, you get to pay a lesser price. Plenty of decent models are available for $350 to $420. You can find cheaper models, but be sure you evaluate their features to ensure that they will still meet your needs.
Easy to Use Mouse Button
The mouse button or navigation pad should be easy to see and use. The buttons shouldn’t stick, and shouldn’t require a fair amount of force to move. A white-on-black or red-on-black color contrast would also help. The navigation pad should be large enough to comfortably move your finger around it, and sensitive enough that it picks up movement with a light touch.
A matte display, as opposed to a glossy display, is ideal for portable netbooks because it stands up to glare and bright sunlight. This feature isn’t found on many models, but if you plan to take your netbook outside often, or if you require extremely bright lights for reading, it may be worth locating a model with a matte display.
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