I am looking for a new laptop for my mother. She does not want to spend more than about 800$, which makes my job a little harder, since I am only informed in the higher price ranges.

She will use the laptop for Youtube, Office, Photos, browsing the Web and the likes at home.

I think the most important features are:

  • an SSD
  • decent 15" screen, meaning good viewing angles, good colors as high of a resolution as that amount of money can buy (it seems to me that the display quality is the number one trade-off of cheaper laptops).
  • usable trackpad

Battery life, raw performance, etc. are less important.

So far, the best laptops I could find was the Acer Travelmate P series and the HP ProBook 450.

Are there other laptops that would be worthwhile to check out?

\Edit: Unfortunately, a used laptop is not an option.


  • Can you edit your question with more information please? What is a decent screen? Is it small, large, 1080P, 4K, IPS? Do you care about battery life? Is an SSD really needed for web browsing and Office?
    – Cfinley
    Jun 8 '16 at 15:08
  • @Cfinley: From my experience an SSD generally improves the responsiveness of computers so drastically that it is generally really nice to have. Thanks for the other input, edited my post accordingly.
    – Dahlai
    Jun 8 '16 at 15:54
  • is the size negotiable? I'd love to suggest a razer blade stealth, but its only 12" Jun 16 '16 at 1:21

If you just want to do some light work such as web browsing, video watching and document editing, then you can just get a Chromebook. They do all these tasks but run very fast since it is a very light OS. The only draw back if that you can't run Windows programs on it (since its Chrome OS).The Acer Chromebook 15 is only around $350 and will run all those tasks fine. The screen is 1080p which is good enough for video watching.

The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series is also a great choice if you want Windows. It is $750 with pretty good specs. The screen is also a 1080p display but is better quality (better colors). The screen is also a touch screen which is surprisingly useful and easy to use.


Buy a used 15" MacBook Pro.

  • an SSD

The used market shifts quickly, but right now there's a Mid 2010 15" with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD on eBay for $499, buy-it-now. Preserved for posterity when the eBay page goes down.

Worst case, buy one with a normal HDD and install an SSD yourself. It's not that hard, and you can use any standard SSD. Plus, you now have an external HDD for use as a Time Machine backup.

  • decent 15" screen, meaning good viewing angles, good colors as high of a resolution as that amount of money can buy

15" non-Retina Pros have a 1440x900 IPS (high viewing angles) display, and can run an external display or two without a hitch. I use my 13" on my desk every day, the quality is comparable to my Dell U2515H. It's also bright enough to be used on its own.

  • usable trackpad

Apple makes the most usable trackpads I've ever touched. I haven't used a mouse in weeks; I use the trackpad on my 13" Pro and my external Magic Trackpad 2 (same technology). No one comes close in terms of feel and usability - even simple things like thumb/palm rejection are implemented flawlessy.

You shouldn't have any problems staying well within your $800 budget, especially if you're not looking for newer hardware (which you don't need for the tasks you mention, a 2009 Pro would blow those out of the water).

They're made of aluminum, a.k.a. they're built like a tank. It's hard to actually damage one to the point you would notice it in daily use. I dropped (flung, actually) a 2009 13" Pro from a backpack about five feet in the air. It flew across the room, squarely hitting the corner a steel shelving unit. It left a nice dent in the casing, and I thought the edge-to-edge glass would be broken... nope, the casing absorbed the impact. That's a tiny dent, especially considering the forces involved. Another picture.

A common argument against Apple machines is that they're 'too expensive' - actually, they're cheaper to own over their lifetime when you take into account resale value (which Apple laptops hold, and no other laptops do).

  • just suggested that, I didn't think about that (even though I buy all of my hardware used), but she wants something new... Tried to convince her, but failed... Edited my post accordingly
    – Dahlai
    Jun 10 '16 at 11:31
  • @Dahlai Any particular reason she wants new hardware?
    – Undo
    Jun 10 '16 at 12:33
  • There is no rational reason to that attitude. It's more of an uninformed opinion and maybe thinking new is always better. In any case it's hard to argue about that with her, especially being the son... :D
    – Dahlai
    Jun 13 '16 at 21:46

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