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Ask Slashdot: Easy Wi-Fi-Enabled Tablet For My Dad?

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the if-only-the-weather-channel-made-a-tablet dept.

Handhelds 370

An anonymous reader writes "I'm looking to pick up a tablet for my father. He is in his 70s and the internet is a bit of a mystery to him, but he asked me about a way to send/receive email and watch online videos. He is not interested in getting a smartphone or changing his cheap phone plan that doesn't include data. But he is interested in getting a tablet and using the free Wi-Fi that is available in his building. Here is my question: can you recommend a tablet equivalent to those phones with the big numbers that they sell to older people? Does there exist a tablet with an interface that would be simple and easy to use for someone who has very little experience with computer GUIs?"

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370 comments

Any Android Tablet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631607)

You can install a simpler launcher, and most launchers can be locked down tightly. Then it's just a matter of choosing the right apps, but again, that doesn't depend on your choice of tablet. More important than the software (which you can change) is the display quality (bright enough, big enough) and the battery. Don't buy a cheap China tablet with only two or three hours of battery life per charge. A Bluetooth keyboard might be a nice add-on.

Re:Any Android Tablet (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631685)

You can install a simpler launcher, and most launchers can be locked down tightly. Then it's just a matter of choosing the right apps, but again, that doesn't depend on your choice of tablet.

Locking down, choosing apps? That sounds like an iPad right there!

Re:Any Android Tablet (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631989)

Except for the personal configuration part.

iPad (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631609)

For gods sake man, just get him an iPad. The 9.7" model has lower DPI/bigger buttons. It's easy to use.

The older models are cheap. Get a 2 or an Air, the other ones haven't got enough GPU power.

Re:iPad (0)

Fear the Clam (230933) | about 4 months ago | (#45631635)

Get a third-generation iPad. The cameras and higher resolution are worth it. You can find them refurbished on Apple's store site.

Re:iPad (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 4 months ago | (#45631645)

Sure, an iPad, if the OP wants to spend twice the money that he has to. A decent Android tablet using large fonts or even a replacement launcher would be perfect.

Re:iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631695)

Which cheap Android tablet receive updates and patches 2-3 years after it was launched?

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631849)

Which cheap Android tablet receive updates and patches 2-3 years after it was launched?

As opposed to the tablet that costs 2x - 3x that might continue to receive patches?

You do the math.

And for the OP, honestly ANY tablet will likely do. C'mon, let's be serious, we've seen 2-year olds drive tablets. Easily. Pinch to zoom and about as intuitive as you can get is what describes 90% of tablets out there. Whether you go for the iStandard or not is a matter of usage and intent (and honestly, budget). Doesn't sound like your Dad will be pushing the limit there either.

Re:iPad (0)

dk20 (914954) | about 4 months ago | (#45632089)

My Samsung galaxy tab 2.
I installed cyanogenmod and its going to get "kitkat" shortly.
Which expensive tablet only allows you to run what the vendor says you can?

Re:iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631729)

Why would you bother somebody with cheap hardware and Google junk? I'd say you need a device that is a uniform, well build and does not get in you face, this isn't an android device. On top of that, it would be a shame if granps suddenly got flooded by viagra ads.
Then there is the issue whether it is ethical to give somebody a Google product when they themselves are not able to fully appreciate the extent of what that means, namely that they are going to be the product, not the tablet, the software or the services.
Hell, he'd be better of with a windows tablet.. I never thought I'd say that, but it's true.

So yes, an iPad, because you et what you pay for and there is no such thing as a decent Android device.

Re: iPad (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631781)

Jeesus h Christ... Are there really people so indoctrinated by jobs? Every word you just said is wrong on every level,... Bravo.

Re: iPad (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631865)

Jeesus h Christ... Are there really people so indoctrinated by jobs? Every word you just said is wrong on every level,... Bravo.

I don't think so. What is evident to almost everybody is that Apple has remained, largely a hardware company and likewise Microsoft has for the most part remained a software company. Google however isn't even a search company any more. It's a company that turns the users into a product up for auction.
Nobody, but people like you, doubt that going with the free/cheap Google option means you pay with something else than monetary units, you pay with your personal data and privacy. This is where part of the extra money goes when you choose MS office or a macbook/iPad.

Unless spineless wimps like you start pointing out what, precisely, is wrong in this assumption, I'll just assume you are envious cheapskates who can't be bothered to, at least, consider ethical problems in tech.

Re: iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632023)

Apple has become a music/software company. Its hardware devices are all portals for iTunes.

Re: iPad (0)

dk20 (914954) | about 4 months ago | (#45632131)

So i can get an IPAD up and running without an ITUNES account which has my personal data? Further, i can use some sort of "apple cloud" to store my data with apple and this is clearly different then storing the same data with google?
As the AC says below, Apple hardware are front ends for iTunes.

Some of us do consider ethical problems in tech. Apple has never been in trouble for "in app purchases" by kids?
My android has had "profiles" for some time now. The kids profile doesnt have a Credit Card attached.


Read about why Jobs said the i* devices will never be made in the US, or why apple decided to issue bonds instead of just distributing their massive cash balances (HINT: repatriating that money would have lead to them actually paying US taxes).

Re: iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631981)

The butthurt is strong with you. Keep riding Google's cock, kid.

Re: iPad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631857)

The support from Apple is great. His father can take free classes in an Aplle store for a year.

Seniors, who have been taking care of themselves, and others, for decades do not like to feel like they need their children to teach them things or hold their hands. They value independence and have plenty of pride.

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632083)

And now you've just overcomplicated the whole thing by suggesting a new launcher. Jesus Christ on a stick man. The only reason you think Android is better is become they are dumping their tablets at a loss?

Re:iPad (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 months ago | (#45631785)

For gods sake man, just get him an iPad. The 9.7" model has lower DPI/bigger buttons. It's easy to use.

The older models are cheap. Get a 2 or an Air, the other ones haven't got enough GPU power.

Hate to agree, but yes.

Sometimes the right tool for the job is just that, the right tool for the job.

Re:iPad (4, Insightful)

Monoman (8745) | about 4 months ago | (#45631995)

I am no Apple fan but I tend to agree just for the fact that he can take it to the store and get help if/when you are not around.

What about a tablet with digital keyboard? (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 4 months ago | (#45631611)

Like... an iPad? You may have notice the keyboard is digital, and therefore you may use the split keyboard [wikihow.com] feature for instance, and offer bigger keys to your daddy. Not mentioning other apps available...

Not too much trouble. (2, Insightful)

ColaMan (37550) | about 4 months ago | (#45631615)

1. Pick any android tablet.
2. Select "Font Size: Huge"

The interface is dumbed-down pretty well already because it's touch based.

(Yes, you could go an iPad I suppose. *rolls eyes* :-P)

Get an iPad (5, Insightful)

KliX (164895) | about 4 months ago | (#45631621)

Got one for my mum - problem solved.

Didn't even have to explain how to use it!

Re:Get an iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631649)

And your mom became a minion of the devil.

Re:Get an iPad (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 4 months ago | (#45631753)

I tried that. No end of frustrations. It's supposedly the easiest interface in the world but she simply couldn't figure it out. When dad got his Nexus 7 she stopped playing with her iPad.

My advice to the ask slashdot poster is find someone willing to give up their tablet for a few days as a trial before you commit to something.

This ^ (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631855)

This.

My mother struggled like mad with an ipad after I lent her mine, that she decided that after all she didn't want one and stuck with her laptop. It also kyboshed her desire for an 'iphone' when after I explained that while all her friends may have one, an iphone is just a very small ipad - smaller screen, smaller icons.

Dexterity is a problem, holding the tablet withoyt realising that your contact with the hand you are holding it with is preventing the finger on the other hand from being able to move the icons. She just ended up putting on a table flat to use in case she accidentally touched the screen in the wrong place.

It was quite suprising as I hadn't considered that using an ipad would be that hard.

Turns out my father also struggled with the touch-screen environment on my sister's iphone.

Re:This ^ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632007)

You should have a selfstanding screen for her, like this:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G4EBA4Q/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

But it's apparent you have retard genes and where you got them.

Struggled with an iPad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632017)

My mother struggled like mad with an ipad after I lent her mine,...

Your father was either a very very smart man, or there's a smart recessive in gene in your familiy.

Re:This ^ (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632035)

That's the opposite of my experience. We bought my Dad an Ipad 1 a few years ago, and he (very typical in his level of internet savvy for that age) is inseparable from the damn thing. In my opinion, the Ipad interface and app ecosystem is more idiotproof than Android, but I don't think you can go wrong either way, especially given how pricy Ipads are.

Re:Get an iPad (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#45631867)

If the guy in question really is that clueless the challenge will likely be explaining the internet from scratch. A cheap but good tablet like the Nexus 7 doesn't risk too much outlay if he decides to give up.

Re:Get an iPad (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631999)

Agreed - the new iOS 7 is even worse for aging eyes and minds - lots of small low contrast action icons, with symbols that don't mean shit. For Apple it used to be substance and style. Now its' just style for style sake - who cares about the user

I'd love to see an android skin that was designed for aging eyes. My 78 year old mother would be thankful

You have to be kidding (or work for google) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632183)

If my 70+ year old dad and mom can figure out an iPad anyone can.

They love theirs, use it ever day, plus facetime rocks.

Get an ipad

Re:Get an iPad (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632039)

Things that should be simple are made unnecessarily complicated on an iPad.

To copy photos from my SLR to my iPad you should be able to just plug in the camera and copy the files over.

Apple won't let you do that. There isn't even a USB port on the iPad. Instead, you have to copy the files to your computer, sync the files with iTunes, and have iTunes copy the files over. That seems counterintuitive. Why should I have to open up my "jukebox" program to copy photos?

Want to share a bunch of photos from your iPad to a computer? It should be simple, you should be able to plug in the iPad into your computer, where you should see your iPad as an external drive, open it to find the folders with photos, and copy them over. iPads don't show up as external devices. Instead, you have to either 1) email the photos one by one. 2) set up an iCloud account, access the iCloud from your computer, and then download the photos from iCloud to your computer.

On any other tablet you can just plug it in and copy files. Go with a Kindle Fire.

Re:Get an iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632097)

amen to that and my mother is 92 in March.
She has an iPad 3rd gen. Like many seniors (god I hate that term and I'm 62) she has no need for iTunes but uses BBC iPlayer and the ITV equivalent.
I talke to her over Skype when I'm travelling.

Now she wants a 3g one so that she can take it travelling with her. For someone born in 1922 she's doing great.

She hasn't a clue who Apple are but the people on the end of the phone at Apple have been fantastic helping her.
For that alone, I really don't mind paying the 'apple tax'. For someone like her it is really worth it.

iPad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631623)

iPads are simple and quite straightforward. Go with a full-sized one, as buttons/other GUI elements seem to be smaller on a mini. If a small font size is a problem, turn it up in Settings > General > Text size.

I recently gave an iPad 2 to my 74-year-old, non-English-speaking grandmother, and she's found it way more useful than the Windows laptop she used to have (which is unsurprising).

Fisher Price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631631)

Fisher Price?

Seriously, if an iPad is too difficult then you might as well abandon the idea.

It's all complicated shit out there (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631641)

These old farts become too stupid with age. Whatever you get for him, you will have to sit down with him for hours teaching him everything. I ain't old but I found the new iOS 7 truly unfriendly and ugly. Often I find myself visually scanning the screen to find the icon I was looking for. The native browser has a compass needle on it which might induce to think it's a Map software. All the icons have become flat, dull and unintuitive, nothing like Steve Job's iOS 6. The Apple web-browser (whatever it's called) is a nightmare to use especially when you want search within the page. Chrome is not a charm either. The address bar disappears after a page is loaded. Were they thinking about new users and steepening the learning curve? No. They hired dipshits to re-design the thing. iPad has become a Microsoft unintuitive shithole. Thank you Tim Cook. I would fire you if I could. I would sue Apple to get back my original iOS 6 if I had the money.

Re: It's all complicated shit out there (2)

pev (2186) | about 4 months ago | (#45631699)

You realise that safaris icon has been a compass ever since it was originally launched right? That's not to do with iOS 7...

Re:It's all complicated shit out there (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 4 months ago | (#45632065)

The native browser has a compass needle on it which might induce to think it's a Map software.

Or the compass software, which also has a picture of a compass.

Hi, Tim Cook, is that you? (-1, Troll)

tlambert (566799) | about 4 months ago | (#45631647)

Hi, Tim Cook, is that you?

Anonymous usually = slashvertisement...

Re:Hi, Tim Cook, is that you? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 4 months ago | (#45632073)

The summary does not unambiguously lead to picking up an iPad so it can not be expected to be a shill.

Old dogs & new tricks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631651)

If he "has very little experience with computer GUIs", why force one upon him?

Why not instead give him something that he can control in a manner that's at least vaguely reminiscent of the way he would have used computers when he was working?

My suggestion -- a cheap, used laptop (say, 3 to 5 years old max.) with a decent wifi card in it, running your GNU/Linux distro of choice, with mutt for mail and mplayer with svgalib for the videos.

With a few carefully chosen aliases added to his .profile, it shouldn't be hard at all to make bash feel "just like" CP/M, DCL, JCL, DOS or whatever he used to use at work, so the only "new" things to adjust to would be mutt & mplayer. Once he's comfortable with that, you can introduce to what's under the hood and gradually remove the "training wheels"...

Re: Old dogs & new tricks (2)

pev (2186) | about 4 months ago | (#45631691)

I wish I had mod points today, I'd have given you a +1 funny... Do you know any old people well and spend time with them? A tablet would be much more suitable...

Re: Old dogs & new tricks (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631965)

Yes, as it happens, including my own father.

After he retired (20+ years ago mind you), he wanted a computer that he could use at home "just like I used to at work". He'd been shown Windows and even the venerable Amiga, but wan't interested in "learning anything new like that" and just didn't see the point of a mouse.

What he knew from his working days was JCL & DOS (yes, back when men were men it was fairly standard practise for "non-computer" people to use terminals and/or PCs without GUIs at work). Hercules didn't exist back then, and we certainly couldn't afford a 370 (not to mention there'd be nowhere to put it), so we got him a '386 with DOS (it was still a sold as a separate product then), Lotus & WP.

He's still using it today (3 printers & 4 monitors later), is still happy with it and still refuses to have anything to do with the 'net.

Obviously the OP's father needs something a lot more modern than that, if he's going to be watching online video on it, but that doesn't mean he needs a GUI.

If, like my father who is of a similar age, his working life was essentially from the '50s through the '80s, chances are he used some sort of computer back when he was working, but like it says in TFS, he's never used a GUI. Why force him to learn one, when all he wants to do is correspond by email and watch video?

Re:Old dogs & new tricks (2)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 4 months ago | (#45631943)

Huh? If he is in his 70's, it's very likely that he never used anything like a desktop/laptop personal computer at work.

        I work in a very high technology field and we didn't have anything resembling a personal computer until the early 90's - about when this guy would have been retiring.

      The answer is blindingly obvious, get an iPad.

Re:Old dogs & new tricks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632003)

Not necessarily -- depends where he worked and what type of job he had.

My father had office jobs at a large corporate (which was not in the tech industry), where terminals on desks (connected to a big IBM) were not all that uncommon in the late '70s and early '80s, and there was a genuine IBM PC on almost every desk by the mid '80s.

At my first job ('89, also in an office, different large corporate, different non-tech industry, also not in a "computer" role), everyone had a PC clone on their desk and each department had one terminal (connected to an aging DEC mini).

In some industries, companies didn't even think about "computerising" until the boom of the '90s; others started way back in the '60s...

Re:Old dogs & new tricks (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#45632037)

Old dogs can learn new tricks indeed. Gave a Mac to my father when he was 70 and I was abroad, before there were iPads and he pretty much learned to deal with it on his own.

It's like 2010 never happened... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631653)

iPad.

Whatever your bias, whatever your allegiance, whatever your misgivings about the new iOS7; the incomparable ease-of-use of Apple's tablet for non-techies is almost an objective fact at this point.

For bling people (2)

mseeger (40923) | about 4 months ago | (#45631657)

Hi,

thanks for bringing this topic up on Slashdot. I am currently looking into this too, but with another challenge on top. A relative of mine (80+ years) is going to be blind too. And he is looking for technology to help him cope with blindness.

A tablet with voice control and output would be a good solution (IMHO). Has anyone experiences with that?

From my first glance, the support in IOS for visually impaired is higher, but i may be wrong with that and the openess of Android may enable better 3rd-party tools enhancing that experience. Can you give me your input?

It is a pity, that those displays with tactile feedback are not here yet.

Thanks for any hint, Martin

Re:For bling people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631701)

a wife

Re:For bling people (3, Interesting)

rainer_d (115765) | about 4 months ago | (#45631757)

AFAIK, the support for blind-people in iOS is still much, much better than anywhere else.
Not only in iOS itself, but also throughout the apps, too.
Instead of tactile feedback, iOS uses voice-over, where you swipe over the screen and it spells out what you touch (I've never tried it, but that's AFAIK the way it works).
Blind people seems to be OK with that.

Re:For bling people (0)

narcc (412956) | about 4 months ago | (#45631845)

It's sad, but true. iOS still has the best accessibility options for blind and low vision users. Well, you might as well say it's the only option as it's completely unmatched.

Blind people seems to be OK with that.

They're used to getting screwed, paying way too much for accessible tech.

Re:For bling people (2)

sosume (680416) | about 4 months ago | (#45631973)

Don't want to flame but the only OS with proper support for blind or disabled people is still Windows.

Re:For bling people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632159)

Don't want to flame but the only OS with proper support for blind or disabled people is still Windows.

Man, that's below the line. Windows isn't that bad...

I mean sure, Microsoft's graphics and UI people create interfaces that make anybody with asthetic sensibilities want to poke their fucking eyes out with a hot poker. And the operating system design may be completely retarded. We know this, so why do you have to be so offensive about it?

Re:For bling people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631997)

How is that different from Android Talk Back and explore by touch? I just bought a cheap (99euro) Lenovo Ideatab to test the apis and I've also played around with the accessibility settings a bit. It basically tells you what you're pointing at and if you shake the tab it will read you the screen contents that has been tagged as important for accessibility.

As a side note afaik there are only 6 default languages, but the TTS engine can be changed; I downloaded espeak from eyesfree project to get my native language supported though there are probably better commercial alternatives in the shop.

Re:For bling people (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 4 months ago | (#45631983)

I think you should ask some blind people, not Slashdot people.

A friend is blind, and could certainly afford anything, but I'm 90% sure he has an Android phone. It's certainly not an iPhone, it's possible it's a less-smart-phone.

The British Royal National Institute for the Blind [rnib.org.uk] was top in my Google search, there's probably an equivalent in your country.

What about the Nook HD+ 32 Gb for $179.99 ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631659)

The interface is fairly simplistic, and can be maddening for a savy user, but it's fairly straightforward. With Chrome as the browser and the Google Play store supplementing the Nook store, he'll have access to Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu+, among other apps, for a variety of options. It's light and easy to handle with the ability to add a 32 Gb, Class 6, micro SD card for additional storage.

Re:What about the Nook HD+ 32 Gb for $179.99 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631909)

Computers are a bit of a mystery to him, but he'll need a microSD card slot for extra storage??

Kindle Fire (3, Interesting)

gravis777 (123605) | about 4 months ago | (#45631681)

You may have to help him go through the initial setup, but the GUI is pretty self-explanitory. Its pretty minamalist, easy access to what is needed, etc.

If you want a bigger tablet, though, you may be stuck going with an iPad. But if you want to save a couple hundred bucks and stick with Android, go Kindle Fire.

And don't wine about it not having full Google Apps or access to the play store or anything. You said you wanted something simple. This is simple.

We got one for my dad a couple of years ago who is in his 60s, and he loves it.

Re:Kindle Fire (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631905)

Background:

The kids' school is moving towards an electronic curriculum (Smart boards, online textbooks, kids doing PowerPoint presentations, etc.), but buggered up the budget for notebooks. And so the teachers sent home notices that the kids could bring in gadgets to connect to the school's wifi network so they can do their work. Yup, it sucks for the kids whose parents can't afford gadgets.

Long story short, Amazon was selling 7" Kindle Fire HDs for $120CDN. I gave our 10 year old the name of our wifi network and its password and told her to look up how many Stanley Cups Maurice Richard won. No other instruction. It took her a couple minutes to set up the network (complicated password), but she was done in under 5 minutes. In under 10, she had installed Minecraft and downloaded a bunch of her Kindle books.

I think that's a pretty solid endorsement.

Re:Kindle Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631963)

If you want a bigger tablet, though, you may be stuck going with an iPad.

That's wrong: there are all sizes of Android tablets, even 13.3" [focalprice.com]

And there's HP's 21" Android Slate.

Android is open and as a consequence, there's all kind of sh#t (meant in a good way) made with it. It's crazy but very exciting.

Re:Kindle Fire (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 4 months ago | (#45632085)

It's crazy but very exciting.

That's a sign of a good platform.

Re:Kindle Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632147)

It's crazy but very exciting.

That's a sign of a good platform.

Damn right it is!

Smartphone for seniors: Android.
Smartphone with dual screens (LCD and e-ink): Android.
Cheap smartphone with small screen: Android.
Phablets with all sizes of screens: Android.
Cheap Chinese knock-offs of brand name phones: Android.
Most expensive smartphone ever made: Android.
7" tablet: Android.
7.9" tablet: Android.
9.7" tablet: Android.
10.1" tablet: Android.
11" tablet: Android.
13.3" tablet: Android.
21" tablet: Android.
Tablets with retina displays: Android.
Cheap, low-res tablets: Android.
Cheap notebooks/laptops: Android.
Robots' OS: Android.
Fridge: Android.

Other home applicances, TVs, set-top boxes, game consoles etc. etc. etc. ANDROID!

iPad (4, Interesting)

pev (2186) | about 4 months ago | (#45631683)

Just get an ipad - I got a cheap second hand ipad 1 for my mum (85) and she picked,up using it just fine. I never have to help her much unlike her normal computer.

To the poster who said about CPU / graphics power, potentially don't worry as most older folk are only really looking to use the web and read email, neither of which are intensive.

To the poster who said about full size vs compact : in my mums case she asked me to get her an ipad mini after playing with mine. In her case it wasn't about the screen size but because her arms aren't too strong it's easier for her to hold up and use! The air might be an option these days but it's a lot more money...

In general I think that like children, you shouldn't "dumb down" stuff for old folk unless you absolutely have to. It's not as necessary as many would have you believe. In children having to think more helps them learn and in older folk it helps stop them forget!

Re:iPad (2)

swb (14022) | about 4 months ago | (#45631985)

I agree with everything except the iPad 1 part. I think an iPad 2 would be a better choice -- the iPad 1 was underpowered when it was new, mostly from a RAM perspective and it ought to be reasonably cheap as well.

I gave my wife my iPad 1 when I got the 3, and since iOS 6 came out there's been a lot of legitimate complaining about apps crashing and hanging, even the email app.

Chrome Book (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631693)

I know the obvious answers are 9'' iPads/Android tablets, but IMO with sending emails as a requirement he's better off with a Chromebook. It's super-easy to use and has a real keyboard that doesn't require holding down a virtual key to get extra options. According to Google [google.com], most of them haved a 11.6'' display, but there are several with a 14'' display. Also, they're dirt cheap.

iPad Air (1)

tranquillity (137776) | about 4 months ago | (#45631697)

I would prefer an iPad Air.

iOS is much more save than Android and the support by the manufacture for the system is much longer than on most Android platforms.

iPad (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 4 months ago | (#45631709)

My mum bought iPads for both of her parents last xmas and they both picked it up easily enough once the initial setup was done.

Asus Nexus 7 $200 (1, Interesting)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 4 months ago | (#45631713)

I've had one for a year now and am quite happy with it. It was much more affordable than the iPad too. Its form factor beats the iPad because you can slip it into your front pocket (of your jeans). No extra carrying case required. Of course I often have to repossess the thing from my wife, who sneaks out of the house with it squirreled away in her purse.

I'm in the same boat (2)

Geeky (90998) | about 4 months ago | (#45631719)

I'm in the same situation with my dad. He's finally decided that there are too many things that really need internet access, such as shopping and booking holidays. After much discussion, we've decided that a laptop would be better for him. Tablets are great for browsing, but as soon as you need to do things a proper keyboard wins. OK, that's partly my preference as well, but I don't want him to hit a limitation.

He may also want to do some basic photo editing. He likes photography, and has been getting by with a printer that has a card slot for his SD cards. The ability to do basic edits and back up his photos will be useful.

And yes, I'm going Windows for him. I can't justify the cost of a Mac, and his peers all have Windows so they can swap advice. For someone who hasn't used it before, Windows 8 is fine - he won't have that learning curve of everything being different.

Re:I'm in the same boat (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 4 months ago | (#45631919)

but I don't want him to hit a limitation.

As infirmity and frailness take hold, being able to operate a mouse can become a major limitation. Whether that's due to the poor design of cursor/GUI interactions or simply the inability to double-click fast enough, being able to press a mouse button for "long" periods during click'n'drag - or some other physical limitation. However I have noticed with elderly relatives that they dislike "mousey" operations. Point and press is simpler as it doesn't involve and speed related movements.

It would be interesting to wonder whether the original mouse researchers / GUI implementors would have taken the same route and produced the products that todays peripherals are based on if any of them had physical limitations, such as arthritis.

Re:I'm in the same boat (1)

Geeky (90998) | about 4 months ago | (#45631941)

Interesting point. So far it's not a problem - he's 70 next year and physically stronger than me (that's the IT lifestyle for you!) and doesn't have trouble with fine motor action. My grandfather did computer courses at the local library in his late 80s, maybe 90, and he did suffer from arthritis but still managed.

At this point I'm more worried about the software limitations. He may decide he wants to write a letter, and a tablet would be a pain for that (and printing - again, any cheap printer will do with a PC but there's more to consider for tablet compatibility). I just don't want to hit a point where he's frustrated at having spent his money on a tablet that can't do what a laptop would do for around the same sort of money.

Re:I'm in the same boat (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 months ago | (#45632075)

After much discussion, we've decided that a laptop would be better for him. Tablets are great for browsing, but as soon as you need to do things a proper keyboard wins.

I disagree with the "as soon as" part. It all depends on the ratio. If 90% of the time, a keyboard isn't needed, I doubt a laptop is more welcome, unless the other 10% is spent typing war and peace or something. If all the typing that needs to be done is the random email or filling out an online form, tablets are adequate.

Especially the person you are talking about is unlikely to be a touch typist. Then a physical keyboard and an on screen one is going to make no difference at all.

Chromebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631775)

Whatever is wrong with a Chromebook?

They run ChromeOS, which is Linux. They're made for this sort of public. Easy and well-performing web browsing. They're auto-upgraded forever (or until Google gets tired...).

Re:Chromebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631881)

Whatever is wrong with a Chromebook?

They run ChromeOS, which is Linux. They're made for this sort of public. Easy and well-performing web browsing. They're auto-upgraded forever (or until Google gets tired...).

Just about everything is wrong with it. It is an insult to the Linux underpinnings it takes advantage of. Turning a truly open source product into a device for mining personal data in order to use and sell this data in the commercial ad bubble space, which promotes no innovation and is based on wishful thinking.

Network administrators should ban android devices on their network altogether.

nexus 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631817)

It's just the best/easiest.

Windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631827)

Windows 8. Just show him all the gestures first.

My dad told me he wanted a ciomputer as well (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about 4 months ago | (#45631851)

When my dad asked what he should buy as a computer as per normal I asked what he would be doing with it.
Most people will answer email or web or games. His answer was "I don't know, but everybody has one." I ahve waited all my life to respond to that and the response was "Just because everybody jumps of a bridge, would you too?"
Well, not in those words. I explained that there were better options for him. I do know that there are many old and elder people who are interested in learning how to work with a computer. My parents are just not the type. Buying a phone is a challenge. I was just able to buy a 'normal' cellphone for them. Previously I bought a phone designed for the elderly and that was too complicated. A smart phone? No way! No idea what I am going to do in the future. Perhaps I have an old Nokia lying around somewhere that I can send them.
The ATM is going OK, but was also a challenge. It is technical after all.

So what was the solution I have for them? Something they already have: peoples skills and a phone. If they want to contact anybody, they can call them. No need to send an email and get no reply because people forget to answer. If they want to look something up, they can go to the bar/restaurant (they live in Spain where people live more outdoor anyway) and ask somebody. The worst case scenario is that they have to buy the guy or girl a glass of wine (and get one back).

Instead of calling me on how to turn on the screen to get to the googly page, they have (another) excuse to call me and I do the search for them. Or even worse, explain them that they have been had by entering their credit card to protect their PC and in 10 years still get charged for a program they no longer use. Or thought they were helping this nice Nigerian gentleman.

As I know them, I knew they would not be using the computer anyway. They have never used or worked with a computer at work. So absolute zero experience. So that is why I advised against it. To me it was a technical solution for a social problem. So no-go. Computers are not always the answer. Obviously YMMV.

The new Nexus 7 (1)

Win Hill (1594463) | about 4 months ago | (#45631889)

The new version of the Nexus 7 gets my enthusiastic vote for the uninitiated. It's also great for ebook reading and displaying a photo collection. And only $229.

Size matters (2)

nachtkap (951646) | about 4 months ago | (#45631903)

I was in the same position with my mum a while ago. She never had any contact with the web until she tried my tablet. From her experience (I just asked) and mine I have to say that the what doesn't matter that much. What is important is the size of.... well everything. Nine inches at least or the touch screen keyboard and text will be to small.
The Font Size:Huge thing is one the most important aspects. We all missed links on a touch screen but older people can be somewhat confused when they miss a link. Find an Analogy to explain that this sometimes happens (to you too).
He should be set if you throw in some accessories like a tablet pillow.

Posts should be mod-ed too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631921)

This one would be a: -1, Fanboi Bait

btw: Anything *at all* will do. My father happily uses Ububtu on an old Dell laptop. He had never used a computer before that.
Whatever you choose, just set him up a few app shortcuts (browser, mail, skype) in an obvious place. Perhaps also add some bookmarks to the browser and a few games.

And save yourself some $. Don't trick yourself into believing that a more expensive tablet would get more appreciation. That's not how parents work. He's your dad, not your bitchy gf.

Re:Posts should be mod-ed too! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631951)

Playing the fanboy card is a bit like playing the racism card. People think this is reason enough to refrain from proper argumentation. It's a conversation stopper made by people who are lazy or unable to coherently formulate their opinions. If fanboyism is anything, it's the promotion of a product or critique on it's competitors without proper arguments and with false assumptions. Getting brand X will make your life better, don't buy brand Y because your hair will fall out.
Then there is fanboyish snobbism, which is the fallacy of denying that a product group or market has specific differences in merit audience and goals. It's really odd, almost parading the fact that you are so utterly detached from a certain category of technology and subsequently giving advice on it.
I think I like fanboys better, because they actually stand for something.

Re:Posts should be mod-ed too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632133)

Love your little essay, but:

It's a conversation stopper made by people who are lazy or unable to coherently formulate their opinions.

Actually playing the fanboy card is usually an attempt to kickstart a meaningful conversation by bringing other products into the picture. The real conversation stopper is the typical fanboy mantra: "Apple has the iPad. Get an iPad. Steal one if you must.". This coming from people who may have never tried using a non-Apple product for the past 5+ years. If I wanted to watch an iPad promo, I would head to apple.com not /.

I think I like fanboys better, because they actually stand for something.

So do the Nazis, the KKK and the Westboro Baptist Church btw. :-P

Finally, note I'm writing this on a MBP while waiting for a quote to order a new MBP. I.e. bashing the fanboys does not mean you are anti-Apple or denying to use their products, as you seem to assume.

Kindle Fire HDX with "Mayday" button (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631971)

The Kindle Fire HDX seems pretty easy to use but most importantly has a "Mayday" button that brings a real person online:

"The tech support person can see your screen, draw blue and yellow arrows and circles on it to show you what to do, and even control it. These presumably very, very patient and cheerful folks are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and Amazon says that most calls will be answered within 15 seconds."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/02/kindle-fire-hdx-review_n_4025501.html

Seems like the no brainer choice for your situation.

Nexus 10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631991)

If you go the Android route, consider the Nexus 10 which has a much bigger display which is much more comfortable to read on. For a 70-year-old a Nexus 7 is probably going to be very hard to read and accurately type on.

The one that you use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45631993)

*You* will be supporting this decision. *You* need to make it. Do you use Android devices? Get him an Android, preferably of the same manufacturer so you can explain the subtle differences. Do you use Apple? Then you have no decision to make. Set up a way to dial in remotely (SSH server, port forwarding on his router, and a remote desktop application of your choice) and learn to cringe whenever his number shows up on caller ID.

"online videos" (5, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | about 4 months ago | (#45632043)

He is in his 70s and the internet is a bit of a mystery to him, but he asked me about a way to send/receive email and watch online videos

Ah yes, he wants to watch "online videos". Really, the old goat will be browsing 4chan and redtube when he hears you closing the front door behind your ass.

See if you can borrow several (2)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 months ago | (#45632049)

and if there is one he likes.

I can vouch for the iPad. My dad was the same way as yours and now he's hooked on it.

If you do get it, the new iPad Air is thinner and lighter, making it easier to hold. Try a self standing cover to protect it, it also makes it easier to use on a table.

I suggest adding gmail app (easier than the native mail app), and finding/adding other apps he might be interested in, particularly netflix if his buliding's wifi can handle it.

What I do not recommend is just dumping the box on him and expecting to not find it at the back of the closet later.

Whatever you choose, spend some time learning it yourself so you can later spend half a day expertly teach/learn it with him, answering questions, and putting useful/fun apps he wants on it. Afterall, humans use tools they find utility in, help him find utility in one, whether it be games, entertainment, or practical things.

Just customize the interface (4, Informative)

WHExeter (685854) | about 4 months ago | (#45632057)

I've set up Android tablets for a number of family members and friends who had limited technological prowess, had very limited goals for what they wanted to be able to do and/or were intimidated by the interface and operation of a tablet. In each case the first thing I do is to replace the stock launcher with something that's more easily customizable. For tablets running Android 4,x I use Nova Launcher. For tablets running 2.x (which won't run Nova) I use Holo Launcher. I use these launchers because you can vary icon size, font size and other visual elements. Then I delete every home screen except one blank one. I disable the "dock" too, just for the sake of simplicity. I set up ONE home screen with a grid of maybe 3 columns by 5 rows, and I make my icons and fonts as large as I can that will still display clearly within that grid size (it's easy to see when you've made things too big). For anyone who finds the interface hard to read I'll go into Settings/Accessibility and make text larger (this setting changes ALL text, including on the display screens and in most apps). I custom build the home screen to fit the needs of my user but a generic example would probably have Dolphin Browser (basic operations like bookmarks are very intuitive), Gmail, theScore or ESPN for sports fans, Google Play Store, maybe YouTube. If they have certain web sites that they want to be sure they can get to I'll put an icon on the home screen that goes directly to those sites. Maybe they'd want the Kindle app, or Facebook, or Google Maps, maybe Calendar or Contacts, but I try to err on the side of simplicity for novice users. I'll drop on a Google Search widget and a Clock/Weather widget that looks colorful and I'll set a nice background photo that looks good but doesn't make things harder to read. In a lower corner I'll add an icon for Apps (having eliminated the Dock) and an icon for Settings. We're talking about tablets but if I was setting up a smartphone I'd have the essential call/text/camera icons on that lowest row as well. I'll spend some time with my novice user going over the layout and functions, make changes as needed and then "lock" the home screen so they can't accidentally delete something. What I deliver to my user is a device that has easy access to ONLY what he/she says is needed (the Apps icon will always get you everything else). I want the user to feel as though they can master the functions they have and become comfortable with the interface (novice smartphone/tablet users often have never used a touch screen or swiped to navigate). As they become more familiar and more confident they, or I if needed, can effortlessly expand the displays and uses. A new user who feels comfortable and confident will use the device and, in time, likely want to learn more. A new user who feels intimidated and lost will get frustrated quickly and stuff the thing in a drawer.

Anything you like (2)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 4 months ago | (#45632061)

1) Pick any Android tablet you like the look of. They all have Wifi.
2) Got to Settings > Display > Font Size = Large or Huge.
3) There is no third step.

I don't have first hand experience, but I bet iPads and Windows tablets have exactly the same settings. Probably best to get a larger-screened tablet if you're going to jack the font size right up- so Nexus 10 / iPad-not-mini or similar.

Other than that- honestly, take your pick. The interfaces are all pretty idiot proof. I have first hand experience of my Gran getting an iPhone and she seemed to pick it up quickly enough, while my Dad owns a Samsung Android phone and an elderly uncle owns a Kindle Fire HD, and they both seem happy. Normal selection criteria also apply- if you get "cheap as you can find" you'll probably find responsiveness etc. is poorer; and if you're catering to a tech dunce, best to keep extra barriers to acceptance to a minimum. But then again, if he doesn't intend to use it for anything more than a little web browsing, it wouldn't be worth spending a king's ransom on it.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" (2)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | about 4 months ago | (#45632095)

I say 8.9" as opposed to the 7" so he can view pages using a larger font and have that extra 2" diagonally for more screen real estate. You can ditch the Mayday button and save $150 ($229 vs $379). If he has you, why would he need Mayday? :)

94 year-old Grandmother (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632111)

Funny enough I just gave my grandmother an iPad 3 weeks ago. After about 3 1ahour sessions she has become amazingly proficient with it. To add to her difficulty in understanding the UI concepts she also has a severe case of macular degeneration which prevents her from seeing small text and what not AND only speaks French. To my amazement the next day after returning home from visiting her (I live across the country from her) I receding several iMessages and a FaceTime call - I didn't even teach her how to use the former (iMessage).

That being said, I love both Android and iOS devices but I felt that simplicity of use fell in the realm of the iPad - and from her amazing usage of it I am even more convinced of this.

My recommendation: get him/her an iPad.

How about one that works without him touching it? (1)

jbrohan (1102957) | about 4 months ago | (#45632123)

Stay-in-Touch.ca is an app designed for getting older people started on using tablets. You can send him pictures of your life and they just come in a gallery. Videos and text messages too, Skype with no touch? When he has gotten some notion of what the wonderful world of teh web is all about, then he can use the other apps too of course. If you keep looking at Android tv dongles and can't think of what to do with one...try this app!

B&N Nook HD/HD+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632157)

The Kindle and Nexus are great tablets, as is the iPad, but (especially in the case of the Nexus 7 and iPad) may be a bit pricey and a bit "much" for what you're looking for. The Nook's from B&N are designed primarily as e-Readers, but are fully functional tablets as well with full access to the Google Play store on top of the B&N Book Store too. They're medium-grade hardware, sure, but as an added bonus the posters dad could always get service and assistance in person at a B&N store. They often run classes at local stores on how to use and what can be done with the nook as well.

(Full Disclosure: I work for B&N. Typically I don't try to evangelize the company product line, but in this case I think the shoe might fit the original request. Pro-tip: They often have Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) units cheaper then retail too.)

I was wondering (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45632181)

can someone please recommend the one true religion, for my elderly father? I'm currently torn between Islam and Christianity, but we've heard of problems with both.

So I thought I'd come on the web and ask a forum to conclusively answer, once and for all,

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