Decisions decisions…

I was visiting my parents this holiday season, and during the course of my visit, I had the extreme displeasure of taking a few minutes to check my email on their old PC. They’ve had the beast for a couple years now (five or six), and it’s probably on it’s last legs. I’d like to see about getting them something new to use.

The first thing I do when I look into new hardware for anybody is take a look at what they do with that computer. In the case of my parents there’s really only maybe three things they do.

  1. The Web
  2. E-mail
  3. Skype

My parents have also taken to traveling a lot these days as my wife and I live pretty far from them, and my brother almost as far. They like to come visit the grandchildren, and so they’ve been leaving their computer behind during these times. Something more portable would be better for them than the traditional computer.

The markets that I’ve been looking in lately are the NetBook and tablet computer (or Pad) markets. Honestly, I think a tablet computer is still to close to a full sized computer for them to make any real use of it’s functionality, but a tablet looks like it might be a perfect fit. Right now, the problem I’m seeing is with #3, since there isn’t currently a video conference version of Skype for mobile Operating Systems.  This writing is a little premature as there’s a lot of rumors floating around right now about Skype and CES 2011. Even so, the theories right now are pointing to Skype video calls being available to iOS devices at least. That’s all well and good, but the iPad doesn’t have a camera, and I wouldn’t want to buy one anyway. I’m not interested in replacing my parents computer with an iPhone. That’s just stupid. So, I’m hoping that their announcement will include Android devices as well.

So, I guess the question of the season is, do I go with a NetBook for my parents, load it up with a nice NetBook version of Ubuntu, or do I hold out for a Galaxy Tab or something like it? Right now, I’m leaning more towards the tablet, just because of it’s inherent simplicity (ask, and I might tell you how long it took me to teach my mother to use a mouse).

What do you think?

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