What would be best for my mom

Currently my mom has an old AMD based white box that runs Windows95. Due to a virus and neglect the CD-ROM does not work.

My intention, being a relatively OK son and the family computer guru, is to upgrade her to a new computer. The three options I'm considering are:

1. Build a computer for her
2. Buy her a name brand prebuilt from a computer store
3. Have a computer builder build her a custom built computer

My mom is a computerphobe and has very limited computer skills. She can write, read and send e-mails, browse the internet and do basic Word documents. She calls me when anything goes wrong and says "the computer is broken, how do I fix it." Since I live several hours away I can not come to her house to fix her computer. Since she does not know basic computer terminology (Where do I find the desktop?) it is very difficult to troubleshoot problems over the phone. I have a hard time understanding what the problem is and she has a hard time describing what happened.

Option 1 is the cheapest but I'm still tech support.
Option 2 is more expensive but the computer has a warranty and tech support.
Option 3 is probably the most expensive and has a warranty and probably better more personal tech support.

A local (to my mom) custom computer builder provided the following quote:

Case: Elements EL788A w/ 380 Watt PS
Case Specs:
Mfg. Model NO:788A
Drive Bays (Ext): 4X5.25" + 2X3.5"
Drive Bays (Internal 3.5): 6X3.25"
Expansion Slots: 7
Front Ports: 2 PORT USB 2.0 + AUDIO
Cooling Systems: 1X8CM INCLUDED
MB Size:
Color: Beige+ Front silver/grey
Accessories Included:
Special Features: Ornament color
Weight: 19.5lbs
Dimensions (DxWxH): 8"x17"17.35"
Manufacture Warranty: 3yrs on power supply

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 2800+
MB: Gigabyte GA-K8NS
HD: 40 Gig Hitachi Deskstar Model # HDS728040plat20, Part #0A30209
FD: 1.25" Sony Floppy drive Model #MPF920
CDR: 52X Sony CD Reader model # CDU5212.
RAM: 512MB Kingston DDR 2700 (1 DIMM; Max 3 gigs of RAM on MB)
GC: Radeon 7000
OS: Microsoft Windows XP Pro OEM w/ CD
Tech Support: Depot warranty-bringing the computer to us. We provide free phone support for one year, as well. Our normal warranty return turnaround time is 48 to 72 hours. Most of our standard components include an over the counter swap of up to one year without having to wait for a replacement part from the manufacturer.
Warranty: one year warranty parts and labor, including one year free tech support, extended manufactorers warranty on power supply, CPU, RAM, and hard drive of three years.
Cost: ~$950 + tax (US Dollars)

I know if I were to price those components my total would be quite a bit lower. What is a reasonable cost to associate with the tech support and warranty service provided? What is a reasonable markup for each of the components or the computer as a whole (markup = 5% * total price or markup = sum of (5% * component price)).

I want to be able to remotely manage (apply updates/upgrades etc... and be able to remotely demonstrate how do do stuff; capture and control the desktop so she can see what I'm doing) the computer via dialup connection on her end. I also want to provide my mom with the best possible service. Based on my previous experience I'm not good at providing phone tech support.

What option would you choose? Are there other options to consider?
19 answers Last reply
More about what
  1. For your Mom, Option 2 - the computer has a warranty and tech support.
    That way she gets one working no fuss, and you can help her get familiar with it. And when she aggrivates you to H311 and back, you can direct her to tech support and give her the tools for learning and managing her PC in a semi-self-supportive way that you will have backup personell for your outlandish PC resolution suggestions. Been there, done that.

    <pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
    And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
    So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
  2. Like RichPLS said, #2 is win/win for you. No matter what happens you come out looking like, "the good son" Gotta love the angle :smile:

    <font color=green> Woohoo!! I am officially an <b> Addict </b>!! </font color=green>
    <i> <font color=red> One new Firefox fan </font color=red> </i>
  3. Long distance tech support for family PCs is a losing deal! She only needs the most basic system for what she does. I'd go as far as saying look at the warranty/tech support from some of the major PC companies, like "DUDE, I got a Dell!"

    *ducks the thrown rotten fruit and vegetables*

    Or a Mooputer(Gateway). I'd get the cheapest PC they had, upgrade the HDD (she'll want to be able to store the pics/video you send her as a good son) and get a 2-3yr warranty with parts/labor.

    <font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
  4. My mom live in the land of Dell (Austin Texas). What brand name computer would you recommend? Going online will allow for customization whereas the store has a limited selection.

    What minimum specs would you recommend? The computer needs to last about 5 years.

    My minimums would be:
    CPU: AMD64 or P4 6xx series (64 bit processor)
    RAM: 512 MB
    HD: 40 Gig
    GC: onboard probably go enough for the games she plays (Computer chess, pool & card games; all non online version)
    DVD: DVD-ROM & CDRW combo or maybe a DVD burner

    Thanks for your help.
  5. Possibly this setup.
    <A HREF="http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/featured_dp_desktop2_2?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs" target="_new">http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/featured_dp_desktop2_2?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs</A>

    <font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
  6. You have two choices the way I see it.

    1) build it yourself. Since she's not a gamer a nice all-in-one mobo and a reasonalble CPU.

    2) Get some special from a major vendor. If you do, you'll have a price that's pretty hard to beat. If you deviate from the special you'll get killed with prices for the extras.

    The loving are the daring!
  7. Order the dell the week they're offering a free 512 meg upgrade. Any cpu will work fine with 512 megs of ddram.
  8. There is a special this week - ends today. Free upgrade to 512MB RAM and 80GB HDD.

    <font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
  9. Did you edit your post or something? What am I missing?
    Was there some reason why you want to punish your mother? Let's face it, foisting off tech support to a company that is going to leave you on hold for large chunks of time, only to eventually route you to some english chalenged impoverished individual, is not what a mother needs.
    Personnally, I would phone up that shop, and ask how much for the system with a s754 2600 sempron, and 256 of ddr400.
    True, your mom may still call for tech support, but isn't that better than having her call to tell you about how much pain she is in due to a lack of tech support?
  10. Definitively the local shop. If she had trouble, then they will be there to help her. It might be a bit more expensive, but for a personal service, then it might worth it.

    -Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
  11. Quote:
    Did you edit your post or something? What am I missing? Was there some reason why you want to punish your mother?

    I don't understand where you got that impression? I've tried to provide tech support to my mom for the last 3+ years. The problem is verbal communication. Imagine a person that only speaks chinese has to work with someone that only speaks english on building a house. If both parties meet face to face they can draw on paper, wave their hands in the air to explain their ideas and communicate what needs to be done. If the only form of communication these individuals have is the telephone they will get nothing done.

    My mom learns based on going to classes or taking lessons. I have encouraged her to become more proficient with the computer. I'm not expecting her to be able to program a 8086 microprocessor using assembly. As she becomes more proficient most of her "technical issue" will disappear.

    I'm leaning towards option 3. A couple of posters suggested option 2 and I was seeking their opinion on what systems they would recommend based on their option 2 choice.

    I'm looking for a system that will last 5+ years. That is why I went with a s754 AMD64 system with 512 MB. The only upgrades I'll have to worry about are OS upgrade, a CPU upgrade and a GC upgrade.
  12. The local shop is also a really good option because she can pick it up and let the company deal with it. The computer is a better setup, but prob more than she really needs.

    Price what it would cost you to put together the system (hardware and software) that the local company is offering and you'll know what they are charging for assembly/tech support. Decide if that is worth the additional cost. Another bonus with going with the local shop is that the system won't be propietary and have a bunch of useless software installed - that is a really big bonus IMO. The setup from the local shop did not include any type of burner and for that price it really should. Call the shop and do some bargaining - see what they will throw into the deal.

    As far as upgrades...with her usage you probably won't need to upgrade before the end of 5 years. Very basic games, internet and office applications don't even require the power that she will have in that system. The loacl shop option will give you more leeway in terms of upgrade if that's what you decide to do.

    <font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
  13. I would lean towards op 2...however...you know your mom better then we do. Is she the type of person to call tech support? Or will she just call you...If you support her as you can, then try to get her to call someone else, will she want YOU to do that? If she would be willing to work with people that are sometimes hard to understand, then go Dell, I personally would feel safer going with Dell over a local company. Having worked for small local companies, i understand that i'm hurting them with that statement, but the fact of the matter is, you have a better chance of getting somebody who knows what they're doing when calling Dell. If you personally know of the quality of work these local guys do...then go on that.

    Current machines running F@H:
    AMD: [64 3500+][64 3000+][2500+][2000+][1.3x1][366]
    Intel: [X 3.0][P4 3.0][P4 2.4x5][P4 1.4]

    "...and i'm not gay" RX8 -Greatest Quote of ALL Time
  14. Wow is everyone here wacked out, my mom has a pentium 4 1.8ghz with 256 megs of ram and like an mx400, and that can more than handle everything she does, why would you have to ever upgrade the cpu, or gpu...or get an athlon 64 or p4. if you buy your mom like the celeron 2.4 with 512s of ram special with onboard video your mom will be happy for 10+ years unless she becomes a computer nerd and starts playing half life 2 or something. Shops around here in edmonton have systems going for 400$ canadian that would be overkill for what your mom would want. I know you want whats best for your mom, but for email word and chess... thats overkill.
  15. 5iron has a point...I wouldn't worry too much about getting a high end system...i'd worry a lot more about support. However, for lasting 5 years...You want something that can at least be upgraded to the next OS. So maybe the lowest/cheapest cpu that works with 64bit windows...
    However...i've heard longhorn is incredibly gpu dependent...3d everything...

    Current machines running F@H:
    AMD: [64 3500+][64 3000+][2500+][2000+][1.3x1][366]
    Intel: [X 3.0][P4 3.0][P4 2.4x5][P4 1.4]

    "...and i'm not gay" RX8 -Greatest Quote of ALL Time<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by apesoccer on 03/10/05 10:47 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
  16. fiveiron makes the most sense. Buying the cheapest machine is the best idea. When upgrade time comes, buy a new machine. What would benefit my mom the most is after sales support. A local small shop should have more personal service. If my mom is not happy with the service she receives we can buy from someone else.

    This shop provides a socket A sempron system for ~$500. That is what I'll go with.

    Thanks to everyone for their help. Special thanks to fiveiron for bring me back to reality.
  17. One more thing: does she have broadband ? if so, I highly recommend you teach her how to use "remote assistance". I hate MSN messenger, but that feature is a killer one. I use it to help out my mom and others whenever they are having some problems. Ironically, we use Skype for the voice chat, but I control her PC trhough MSN. Works great!

    = The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
  18. Quote:
    One more thing: does she have broadband ?

    Nope. She is on dial up. But if someone else paid for it she would go to broadband. :P

    I highly recommend you teach her how to use "remote assistance". I hate MSN messenger, but that feature is a killer one.

    I think using something like this would minimize my tech support headaches.
  19. Yea. thats a good idea. If you have bw issues over her modem line...u might try vnc...there are a couple of different brands out there...it's free and works fairly well. It has several ways to limit bw to the app...i mostly use remote assistance now tho...

    Current machines running F@H:
    AMD: [64 3500+][64 3000+][2500+][2000+][1.3x1][366]
    Intel: [X 3.0][P4 3.0][P4 2.4x5][P4 1.4]

    "...and i'm not gay" RX8 -Greatest Quote of ALL Time
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