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Go Computer Helps Non-Techies Get to Know This Computer Thingamajig

by Lambert Varias

The Go Computer, made by a company called firstSTREET, tries its best to be the most user-friendly computer on Earth. Unfortunately, in a tragic combination of stereotyping and a lack of imagination firstSTREET is marketing their device towards elderly people, neglecting the fact that there are old people out there who are already comfortable with using computers, and that there are younger people out there who are not familiar with computers and therefore would benefit from a dumbed-down interface.

Go PC 1

The first thing that you’ll notice about the Go Computer is its keyboard, which has magnified letters and symbols on it to mark the keys. It’s mostly a win, until you get a closer look at some of the keys:

Go PC kb zoomed in

You might consider this nitpicking, but I’ll point it out anyway: the symbols on the backspace key and the keys grouped with delete and print screen are all  abbreviated. How is that useful to a non-techie? Would they be more familiar with “BS” than “backspace”?  “Delete” isn’t even “Del”, it’s “DL”. And look at how small the backspace key is. The keyboard was designed for users who are either unfamiliar with the layout of the keys or have weak eyesight right? Considering that they’re bound to make a lot of typing mistakes, shouldn’t the key that erases those mistakes be easily identifiable and accessible?

Go PC interface

Fortunately the on-screen interface is much cleaner and simpler than the keyboard; the list in the middle of the screen pops out when the user clicks the GO button. The main screen of the Go Computer is a simplified version of an iGoogle or My Yahoo page, where users can see various information at a glance. To help entice what I call the “old noob” demographic, firstSTREET made a “fact sheet” (pdf) that has more marketing speak than facts, as well as a bunch of images that shows what old noobs can do with a computer:

Go PC stereotypes

It’s all good right? Then shit gets weird:

grow something! do it!

Oooookay. Let’s get to the pricing so you old noobs can order your own Go Computer and grow something. The Go Computer is available at firstSTREET for $800 (USD), but a substantial part of the user-friendliness of the computer is that the company will also maintain it for users, e.g. they’ll block spam, update software, etc., so there’s also a monthly subscription fee of $20. A broadband connection is required of course. Unfortunately the “fact sheet” fails to mention the OS that the computer uses or even hardware specs, only that it has a 19″ screen. Considering that one can get a Core i7 package for $800, lets hope that the Go Computer isn’t made of old parts. Heheh. Old parts. See what I — yeah you’re not reading anymore.

[via gadget venue]

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Comments (5):

  1. Julie says:

    This computer is a scam. They also require that the senior pay $19.95 per month on top of the Internet access for maintenance. We are sending back my neighbors GoComputer crap and purchasing a real computer, with an all-in-one printer, for $300 less and no maintenance fees from BestBuy.

  2. blinkingblythe says:

    The log in screen looks very simaler to the one for Xbuntu Linux.

  3. blinkingblythe says:

    The log in screen looks very simaler to the one for Xubuntu Linux.

  4. Lisa says:

    Such a drag. There is a need for a well-executed version of this. My 76-year-old mother finally decided she wants to buy and learn how to use a computer, and by default I have become her consultant/tutor. We got as far as turning the thing on and double-clicking on a folder before she got overwhelmed and had to stop–and it’s not her or my fault. Current computers are made for people who already know how to use computers. No telling how long it’ll take to get to explaining email…the main reason she wants a computer at all.

  5. Cara Wright says:

    The GO computer is basically an insult to seniors. It’s nothing but a ‘headache’. I’m unable to download anything from the internet (Ex: map updates for the GPS) and when logging into ‘free online games’ such as Pogo.com Firefox crashes and sends me back to the GO screen. Phoning support results in long waiting time (9 or 10 callers ahead, red flag right?)or lost calls. You have an option to leave a message however, mine have never been answered. You can also e-mail your concerns, my answer has always been “call the office”. Frustration is putting it mildly!!

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