Mac Daniel's Advice

Best Mac for a Kid

Evan Kleiman - 2000.09.13

Q. What is the best Mac for a kid?

A. This is a simple question pondered by many people. What really is the best Mac for a kid? Well, it depends on what they'll use it for.

If your child just uses the computer for typing up homework and reports, almost any old '030 machine will do. I'd recommend getting a Performa of some sort. You can snag one on eBay for under $100! The Performa 500 series even has a built in monitor! (Also check out the Low End Mac Swap List.)

As far as software is concerned, all you need is System 7.5 and Claris Works. This software can be found all over for under $30, and if you're looking on eBay, you'll probably even find a computer with ClarisWorks already on it.

Pretty much any Mac-compatible printer will do good. You can get any old Epson Stylus series ink jet printer and be fine.

If your kid uses the computer mostly for "homework" or, in adult language, "games," you'll need a bit more powerful machine. The best processor will probably be a Power PC 603e. You can get a complete Performa 5000 series* computer (with the built in monitor!) for under $250 at places like PowerMax and MacResQ. As for software - well, the kids know what programs are best to do "homework" with.

* Note that some 5000 (and 6000) series models are considered Road Apples and should be avoided. However, the 5400 and 5500 have a new internal design and avoid the Road Apple label. ed

The last type of kid is one that uses the computer for everything. Web pages, homework, games, programming, and many other things. The best type of computer for this kind of work is an iMac. You can get a new iMac for $799, and it comes with all of the software you'll need. Also, it's sure to last your kid a long time.

As for a printer, the Epson Stylus 740i is probably the best pick. You can get one that will match your new iMac quite nicely.

Not every kid will always fall in to one category for which Mac to get. But this will help you get started. At least it's better than going to a computer store where they might push one of those "other" computers.

Evan Kleiman has been writing for Low End Mac since January 1999. He also runs his own site, Evansite. Evan uses an iMac, along with some vintage hardware. You can read more about his computing experience in The Many Macs of Evan Kleiman.

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