Looking for a Low-Cost (Budget $600) Laptop for a First-Time PC User

Hi OzBargainers,

Christmas is coming up and this is my first year working full-time after getting a job (So grateful to not be affected by COVID this year). So this time around I thought it would be well to buy a nice present for my stepfather. I decided to get him an entry laptop and would like your help in finding a really great machine for him that doesn't break the bank.

For context, he is a 50-something year old Australian who basically didn't use any sort of computer or 'modern' technology until about 8 years ago. Before getting his first iPhone 4, all he had was a landline phone. Now, he uses an iPad and iPhone SE 2020 as his personal devices.

He still struggles with a computer; he's the kind of guy who looks for a key, presses it, then looks for the next key on the keyboard and presses the next one, and so on. He told me months ago that they started to use computers at work for data entry and timesheets (he's a boilermaker by trade), and he's told me several times that he wished he had a laptop to practice on.

So my budget is a laptop sub-600 but I'm willing to bend to go just above that if you guys had any suggestions. Laptop would be preferable. Won't be playing any games at all; most probably just internet browsing and watching videos, making bank payments, online shopping etc.

Thanks in advance,


  • Maybe a chromebook would suit him.

    • Maybe, I always thought of a 128GB SSD as a minimum but that's just my opinion. Some of these Chromebooks have 32GB-64GB eMMC Storage and it just throws me off.

  • This deal is still available.


    Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 also relatively well reviewed on Amazon

  • An iPad Air would probably do him for the next 10 years. It can do excel, Zoom, other video chat, you can manage files (you can download the firmware for your router and then upload that firmware to the router admin page for example, without needing a PC at all). And he can get all the storage, games, and music he'll ever need with Apple's subscription package. Or if your budget doesn't go that far, then the standard iPad. You say he wont' be playing any games, but iPad is a gaming beast so he'll find something he'll love.

    • Ah sorry mate I should have specified; he needs the laptop because for him, it's more about learning the tactile feel of the keyboard and learning how to use windows (I assume they use windows at his workplace) rather than games and music. He doesn't listen to music or play games. Hope this clarifies it. He already has a newer generation iPad he uses.

      • You don't have a spare device you can give him? Or know anyone with an unused Windows machine? It sounds like the guy has enough tech on him to get with daily life — an iPad + iPhone is good enough for a lot of folks to browse internet, pay bills, shop online, watch Youtube etc.

      • iPad has keyboard and mouse support. With the official keyboard and a few third party keyboards you do use it just like a Windows laptop in terms of keyboard and mouse. If he has a new iPad already then he might benefit from one of these keyboard cases with a large trackpad built in. I use my iPad almost exclusively like that, except when using the pencil my fingers never touch the screen anymore.

    • Can't remotely control an iPad as far as I know, which makes getting support remotely harder. Worth considering.

  • Probably something with a larger screen 15"+ or unless you have a large spare monitor 27"+ would be better to learn on as squinting to small text is a challenge for older people learning for the first time.

    Entry level may not be the best because if it's too slow to respond then he might get frustrated. Too fast is also not good, because then it increases the chance of misclicks and getting lost in the UI.

    He probably won't need portability with an ultrabook because it doesn't sound like he'd be taking it anywhere.

    Maybe a 2nd hand/outdated desktop replacement (or gaming laptop?) it would be plugged into power but small enough to put away afterwards and shouldn't break the bank.

    • Thanks for your comment mate, and yes now that I think about it, it probably won't be going anywhere. He'll most likely leave it at home or on the dinner table. Would an all-in-one PC be a viable solution then? I know they're generally frowned upon but they do have their market which is why they still exist and are still in production.

      • I like AIO computers to be honest. Larger screen with not many cables. Neat solutions and they are often competitively priced.
        Maybe a wireless keyboard/mouse would suit your stepfather better (ergonomics, full size) than a fixed keyboard on a laptop

  • I would suggest a second hand Macbook Air. Probably get a 2016 or so model for that. With Mac, they needn't mess around with antivirus software etc etc.

  • Check dell outlet, you can get fantastic deals on there at times.

  • Buy a Microsoft surface, wont disappointed

  • Hi,

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned:
    Acer Aspire 5 14-inch i3-8130U/4GB/128GB SSD Laptop
    (I added 16GB Ram) plus you can upgrade the SSD by adding a standard SSD.

  • if looking for AIO, plenty on ebay

    else the acer laptop above is a great deal except ram could use a upgrade

  • hey OP check out my recent post. lots of links to laptops so go nuts


  • it would be better for him to do a part time tafe course on the basics of pc use and ofice aplications. then buy. otherwise may be hard to motive himself