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Buying Computer for Seniors with low vision problems

by TOBAWOOD / October 29, 2009 11:55 PM PDT

I want to buy a desktop for a senior couple, one senior has macular degeneraton (low vision). I was thinking about the gateway SX2800-01 with the Dell Monitor SP2309W. The seniors know how to use the computer and they just wanted a basic computer. (No gaming system). I don't know if my choices are compatible with each other or if I made the right choices for each unit. I would appreaciate any tips on my choice for them. Thank you for your help

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Probably fine
by Jimmy Greystone / October 30, 2009 1:53 AM PDT

Probably fine. You don't need a gateway monitor because you have a gateway computer. What you need to ensure is that the monitor and computer both have one common connection system. Either VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, or HDMI. If they both have any one of those, you should be fine.

And if low vision is an issue, I would spend more money on a big screen monitor. Maybe take the person to a Best Buy or some other electronics stores, and have them look at a few monitors and have them rate them. You might even consider looking at HDTVs. Most of them have VGA inputs, and they're cheaper at larger sizes.

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A bigger view
by ChuckT / October 30, 2009 7:55 AM PDT

While a bigger screen is very pleasant, no matter who you are, there are certain adjustments you can make to any Window PC to make the screen more readable in times of "can't quite make this out..."

I have a very large screen, and if I use the native resolution (always suggested for the very best, cleanest display) and the default DPI (Dots Per Inch, the Windows setting for how many dots are used in a particular dimension) then usually I'll just have a whole lot of dots on the screen, that are not any clearer, or larger, than the guy who is using some cheap small screen!

So, what can you do? Simply adjust the screen's DPI adjustment, to make everything larger on the screen. Depending upon which Windows OS you are using, you may have to do a search to find out where that adjustment is. If you tell us the OS you are using, someone here where give you the details to the adjustment.

If you want something really cool, you can use the Magnifier built into the last few versions of Windows. That will give a much expanded view of the area immediately under the cursor. So you get a split screen view of the desktop. One is the actual desktop, no magnification, and then in an area running along the top of the screen. Try this:
Hold down the "Windows" key (the 'flag' key) and then press the U key (U for Utility).
There look for the Magnifier option.
That magnifier can be adjusted for how much magnification you want, like x2, x4.
It actually works pretty good. Since the regular screen is still there, the adjustment coming from the regular view and using the expanded view is more comfortable, they are both there.

I also have a software application running on my Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000, which is a long term for the expensive Bluetooth mouse from Microsoft. I will bet there are similar applications for other mice, as well. But, what I am getting around to, is that the 5th mouse button (the 2nd button on the right side) calls up (if you have loaded the accompanying MS software driver) a small magnified area of the immediate cursor area. This is also kinda cool, but a little harder to get used to, since you only see the immediate area around the cursor at a magnified scale. That might be more natural for some people, though. You might look into that. You don't have to buy a special mouse (MS or whoever) if you just do a Google search for similar applications. They are probably free.

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by jean harrington / October 30, 2009 10:47 AM PDT
In reply to: A bigger view

I spent 12+ hours a day in front of the pc.I, too, have low vision.
Yet, I find the magnifier unsatisfactory.It only highlights 2 sentences or so. I quickly gave up on this.Is there something I'm doing wrong? A big monitor may leave the info 'unseen'.I find I have this problem, though I can see the letters in my browser.Email is usually ok.

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A big monitor is just more dots
by ChuckT / October 30, 2009 4:29 PM PDT
In reply to: low-vision

We're talking LCD monitors here, because that is the most popular type of monitor right now. Having a large monitor is usually just more dots. Those dots are, from monitor to monitor, for the most part, pretty nearly the same size. If you look at the specs of various size monitors you'll find that they are all about 90 dots per inch (plus or minus a few dots).

Here is some real examples, for some wide screen 16:10 monitors:
19" having 1440x900 pixels results in 90.1 ppi (pixels per inch)
21" having 1680x1050 pixels results in 90.8 ppi
24" having 1920x1200 pixels results in 90.7 ppi

You will get similar results in many of the various sizes and aspect ratios of other monitor. Now there are some monitors that do have some very fine pixels, such as I have a 15.4" laptop with a very light resolution of 1920x1200 pixels which has a tiny, tiny pixel size, and it results in 146 ppi. But those types are the exception, not the regular monitor that most people buy.

All I am saying about the fairly typical 90 ppi is this ... having more dots, which happens with a bigger screen, does not make any object (a character, a leaf on a picture of a tree, whatever) bigger. You just have a larger screen to see more objects (those characters or those leaves).

What makes the objects bigger is some sort of magnification. If you adjust the DPI via the control panel, then you get all things on the screen magnified. Which makes it easier for the people with limited vision.

If you use a magnifier tool, such as Windows built-in Utility function, or the special applications that magnify a small portion "under" the cursor, then it becomes a personal preference as to which you are more comfortable with.

The Windows Utility Magnifier gives a split-screen effect so that one area of the screen is "regular" and the other side of the split is an enlarged view of where the cursor is. I like that ability. But at times I also like the small window that is magnified only around the cursor. I have both. Not at the same time. Not because it can crash (it doesn't), only because it gives a blank view, and is not useful.

You have to figure out which you like and use that. I really suggest that you try the simple overall Windows DPI setting first.

Good luck.

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low vision problems
by luckyone96 / October 31, 2009 10:14 AM PDT

My Dad had macular degeneraton and wanted to use a PC you may want to look into some of the text to speech programs that are out there. Find out what they require and go from there to set up a pc. I have dragon natural speaking and it works well I would also look into Opera as a browser which does text to speech and would also be helpfull for internet browsing.

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Low vision caused by MD (Macular Degeneration)
by Wim_Damstra / November 1, 2009 1:06 AM PDT

To begin with: MD (Macular Degeneration) is an eye-disease greying out the centre of the sight, therefore the quality of the monitor is of minor importance but the size of the letters and the as great as possible contrast absolutely are.
Depending of the rest-sight the build-in magnifier (Windows-key + "U") makes it possible to enlarge the lettersize from 1 to 9 times the original using up to half the screen (att. Jean Harrington: put the mouse-arrow exactly at the bottom of the magnifier-area and drag the line down while keeping the left-key of the mouse pressed).
If that is not satisfying there are several external magnifiers doing about the same thing but I really think the best way to do then is to install a special reading program for blind people for which you of course best can contact an organization for the blind.
MD-patients are considered to be nearly blind.
I hope I could help you!

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Forget Native Resolution
by khuss66 / November 2, 2009 2:21 AM PST

After getting the largest display your budget can handle, set the resolution to something smaller than native; BAM, instant magnification.

Elders don't need the real estate like you or I may do, they just need to be able to read the one or two windows they have open.

But "the pixel quality" cries the perfectionist. THE CONSUMER HAS MACULAR DEGENERATION, they couldn't distinguish 1 pixel from another, even with an actual magnifying glass.

That is a very nice combo for it's intended use.

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