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timmmay

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#250716 22-May-2019 16:07
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My Mum is looking for a way to do web browsing at home on a screen bigger than a phone. I was looking for a laptop for her in another thread, but she's asked if she can use her TV. She has a 40" Samsung TV that's 5 years old. She just wants to research travel, check her bank balance on a decent size screen, and if possible (but not required) store her photos.

 

Is it practical to buy a compact computer for this? A Raspberry Pi3 (probably too slow), some other small purpose made device? I'm not sure if she cares if it's Windows or not. She'd also want a decent wireless keyboard / mouse.

 

Does anyone do this? Any practical downsides? Any suggestions for equipment?


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davidcole
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  #2243221 22-May-2019 16:50
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How close is she to the telly? Anything more than 2m gets very small. You can crank up the dpi a little bit you can’t increase the mouse size and so it still tends to be a little small.




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timmmay

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  #2243222 22-May-2019 16:51
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she's probably a bit more than 2 m from the TV, but she has an armchair she could move up easily enough.

Brunzy
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  #2243223 22-May-2019 16:54
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No downsides that I can see. We have 2 Tv’s and a projector connected to a 4x4 HDMI matrix , PC , ATV , Tivo, Bluetooth mouse & keyboard that works anywhere in the house.



JayADee
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  #2243224 22-May-2019 16:55
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iPad?
An inexpensive second hand laptop will do that job no problem. The hubby is watching cnn on ours hooked up like that right this minute.

timmmay

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  #2243229 22-May-2019 17:16
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What's a good compact computer? Mac Mini? Intel nuc? Raspberry Pi 3? Rather not have a laptop lying around, something that can be hidden in back is good.

davidcole
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  #2243257 22-May-2019 18:35
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I think a pi would be sufficient. Better if you can get windows 10 on it. It ubuntu desktop or lubuntu is pretty windows looking, and with chrome it’s ok. Then might be better dpi settings to play with in Ubuntu that’s windows also




Previously known as psycik

OpenHAB: Gigabyte AMD A8 BrixOpenHAB with Aeotech ZWave Controller, Raspberry PI, Wemos D1 Mini, Zwave, Xiaomi Humidity and Temperature sensors
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zezayer
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  #2243330 22-May-2019 20:18
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How about a chromebox? (The PC version of a chromebook)

 

Runs chrome OS, nice and fast on a cheap box. Obviously runs a chrome browser well and can run android apps for watching on demand TV etc.




timmmay

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  #2243335 22-May-2019 20:25
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davidcole: I think a pi would be sufficient. Better if you can get windows 10 on it. It ubuntu desktop or lubuntu is pretty windows looking, and with chrome it’s ok. Then might be better dpi settings to play with in Ubuntu that’s windows also

 

I was surprised how well the R.Pi2 ran a Linux desktop. I wonder how the R.Pi3 would cope with the modern web, multiple tabs.

 

It's really cheap, slightly nasty as I often have little problems with my Pi's until I get them set up just right.

 

zezayer:

 

How about a chromebox? (The PC version of a chromebook)

 

Runs chrome OS, nice and fast on a cheap box. Obviously runs a chrome browser well and can run android apps for watching on demand TV etc.

 

 

I never even knew such a thing existed! Looks like $200 - $500 and could be just the ticket, if Mum is ok with web based storage. Nice tip, thanks :) Any particular make / model you like?


zezayer
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  #2243336 22-May-2019 20:30
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timmmay:

 

I never even knew such a thing existed! Looks like $200 - $500 and could be just the ticket, if Mum is ok with web based storage. Nice tip, thanks :) Any particular make / model you like?

 

 

Nope I'd just get something cheap, Chrome will run well on most hardware.

 

Worth a google to check the system you buy can run android apps, most will and I think they would be very useful on a living room system.


nzkc
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  #2243390 23-May-2019 06:29
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If you've got a spare Pi hanging around you could try Chrome OS on it and see if it works for you/your mum: https://www.electromaker.io/tutorial/blog/getting-started-with-chromium-os-on-raspberry-pi

 

If you do go down the Chromebox route, I think the trick will be making sure you find one that handles video playback well. Which to be fair; that should be anything half modern these days.  Next time my mum says she's going out to buy a new PC, or starts complaining about the current one, I'm going to be pushing for her to go Chrome OS for the simplicity.


nathan
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  #2243391 23-May-2019 06:41
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Web browsing on the TV is hard because of the res

Is she using anything already?

Batman
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  #2243392 23-May-2019 06:46
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tv = no





Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


jonathan18
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  #2243421 23-May-2019 09:14
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Batman:

 

tv = no

 

 

Even though this is quite a cryptic reply, if you're saying using a TV as a computer is a bad idea, I'd pretty much concur. In theory it sounds sensible, but in practice I don't enjoy it. To rephrase that - I hate it.

 

I had a Mac Mini, used primarily for running XBMC as it was in those days, connected permanently to our television. Even with a 60" screen and sitting around 2m away I struggled using it as a computer. There's a real sense of disconnect between user and screen (even something as simple as the amount of refocusing the eye needs to do between screen and keyboard); angles are often difficult to get right, as others have said it's difficult to get everything sized right (apps, text, mouse pointer)...

 

Some of those issues are present when using a computer in a meeting room - it's amazing how even the most fluent typist/competent computer user becomes ham-fisted in this situation.

 

If you really want to explore this option for your mother I really do suggest you find a way of trialling it before committing any serious money (e, ChromeOS on a Pi, as suggested above); and have her use it for a good period of time.

 

Or even go with a laptop as you'd originally planned - HDMI into the TV and set up with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, at least then if she ends up finding the TV use frustrating she'd still have a device that can be used 'normally' (or, if she likes it, she can use it either way).

 

Re Chromebooks/boxes and storage - they do typically have micro SD card slots to expand storage; there have been serious restrictions as to how this can be put to use by the OS, but I understand these have been improving over time. If you do go with a Chromebox I also imagine content can also easily be accessed by just plugging in a USB drive.


wellygary
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  #2243445 23-May-2019 09:32
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To be Honest a Tablet is probably a better fit for her needs than running a desktop OS on a big screen, and then navigating around it( presumably with a mouse/trackpad) from a distance,,...

 

You could try a Pi and see how you go, but at that distance mousing can be a real PITA....


Senecio
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  #2243447 23-May-2019 09:41
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I would advise against it. I have a Mac Mini under my TV that I used before the days of ATVs and Android TV set-top boxes. Now its basically a headless Plex Server and I only ever look at it through the TV when I need to install updates etc... Its frustrating exercise to use a TV in place of a regular laptop/tablet. 

 

For your use case a tablet is the best solution. Not tied to the TV so can be used in alternate rooms and purpose fit for this use case.


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