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Ask Slashdot: Video Streaming For the Elderly?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the remember-that's-for-not-of dept.

Media 165

First time accepted submitter ChrisC1234 writes "My grandparents are getting older and don't get out much anymore, and with the demise of video stores (and not even understanding what a RedBox is), they don't see movies anymore. They've got internet access, so I'm thinking of getting them a streaming appliance and a Netflix account. So I'm wondering what device is the easiest for elderly people to use. I'm thinking either a Roku or Apple TV, but open to other options. It just needs to be easy to navigate and support closed captioning. Has anyone else done this successfully?"

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Apple TV (5, Interesting)

iamwhoiamtoday (1177507) | about a year ago | (#44278863)

The Apple TV setup is simple and straightforward. Minimal controls mean less things to mess up. My grandparents are getting up there, and they rarely mess it up with Netflix Streaming.

Re:Apple TV (5, Informative)

gyrf (530771) | about a year ago | (#44278919)

As far as I can tell, my Apple TV 2 doesn't do subtitles on Netflix. My Roku 2 XS does. That may make your decision for you. That aside, the Apple TV has a more consistent interface that is less likely to confuse non-tech-savvy users like your grandparents.

Re:Apple TV (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44278975)

Linux from Scratch and write the streaming/storage code yourself, freeloader.

signed: RabidLinuxWeenie

Re:Apple TV (5, Informative)

Dzimas (547818) | about a year ago | (#44279161)

The Apple TV 2 supports closed captioning in Netflix. Simply hold down the select button on the remote for several seconds and a captioning menu pops up. I second Apple TV. I introduced it to a retired neighbor who was growing increasingly irate at the endless bombardment of repeating commercials on cable. They absolutely love it.

Re:Apple TV (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44280675)

As a Roku XD user, I highly recommend anything else for the non-tech savvy. It's just a buggy product that requires a lot of patience and frequent action to use. It is unreliable in areas where there are many Wi-Fi networks (apartment buildings and such) and the UI frequently locks up (I've got the remote code to reboot it memorized and have to use it at least once per week).

If you understand tech, it's possible to make it work, though you'll probably be even more frustrated that developers couldn't follow basic UI development practices (like a UI-only thread that always responds to user input, even if it's just to display a waiting indicator). If you don't understand tech, it will probably sit idle as you use something else.

Re:Apple TV (0, Flamebait)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44278969)

The problem with the AppleTV paradigm is that the most prominent placement of "Movies" is the top navigation bar, and that's for the stuff tied into iTunes (either exorbitant pay-once fee, or exorbitant 24-hour rental fee).

I find that those unfamiliar with technology often have difficulty understanding the concept that there are multiple ways to accomplish the same goal, that programs or appliances can do more than one thing, and that the same (or similar) things can be done by multiple programs. OP may wind up with his grandparents confused that "But I thought these movies were free...why is at asking me to pay $19.99?" because they don't understand that, yes, you CAN buy movies from iTunes, but you shouldn't.

(Also....the fuck? Isn't this slashdot? What the hell kind of a question is "which closed source non-free software appliance should I buy to pay for DRMed content?")

Re:Apple TV (2)

Quirkz (1206400) | about a year ago | (#44279027)

(Also....the fuck? Isn't this slashdot? What the hell kind of a question is "which closed source non-free software appliance should I buy to pay for DRMed content?")

While I get what you're saying, I think if the question were "which free, open-source software appliance will my grandparents be able to use and be recognizable enough other people might be able to help them if something goes wrong?" there wouldn't be anything to discuss.

On the plus side, I just learned my Roku can do subtitles. I did not know that, and since we just had a new kid, my wife and I will really want to try that out. whether or not the OP gets what he needs, I just got an immensely beneficial piece of information. Thanks, slashdot!

Re:Apple TV (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279235)

The question should never be "which solution should i pick" but simply "which solution should i pick, given these requirements..."

Theres certainly open source software out there that solves problems just as/better than the closed source counterparts - and vice versa. Saying that all open software requires someone technical to help is kinda just as naive as saying all open source software just works for grandma. Ofcourse one can be politically/morally against one or the other type (or certain companies/open source licenses) but in an open discussion/question like this that is also going to benefit others not having _exactly_ your worldview, it is quite simple to just ignore those answers against your own view (for pay/uses viral gpl) and use the other great advices given.

that said, im an OSS person - but i am not going to force that view on my grandparents (well, they have all died, but in theory) and except from giving my opinion that paying X company for a solution is not "right" (given you have a reason to dislike X) if they want to pay, it works for them and i dont have to support it (either because its easy to use, or it comes with support) then it is really not for me to decide - only fanatics can possibly have the view that it is "ok" to force their opinion on and require others to live by a given set of rules - and that goes for all sides closed as well as open source proponents.

Captcha: investor (how appropritate :)

Re:Apple TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279245)

argh... first sentence got borked due to using gt; and lt; i meant to say: the question should never be "which [type of source-code] solution should i pick" but simply...

Re:Apple TV (1)

shilly (142940) | about a year ago | (#44279769)

Congrats on the new baby! A moses basket with a sheepskin liner worked really well for us for family movie time.... baby sleeping peacefully while we watched. Happy memories. I can also strongly recommend this excellent book which meant we had a wonderful, calm time with our baby, completely unlike what we had been told to expect. []

Re:Apple TV (2)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about a year ago | (#44279763)

Does Apple TV have a password option? I know the Roku does, and since it asks for a password for everything that costs extra, yet no password for everything that doesn't cost extra, it makes it easy to differentiate.

Until movie production becomes dirt cheap (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44279979)

What the hell kind of a question is "which closed source non-free software appliance should I buy to pay for DRMed content?"

The cost of recording a music album with quality comparable to commercial releases has fallen to a "prosumer" level, which allows a dedicated hobbyist to record an album without "how am I going to recoup the cost of production?" necessarily hanging over his head. Until the same happens to the writing, directing, cinematography, acting, and set and prop design of feature films, there won't be any viable alternative to the MPAA, and MPAA studios have made a business decision to apply digital restrictions management to their works.

Re:Until movie production becomes dirt cheap (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44280217)

Either that, or crowdfunding. Even for $200 million dollar blockbusters, enough people would go ahead and kick in $10 for, I don't know, Iron Man 4 or whatever, and once it's done, it's made freely available to everyone.

Re:Apple TV (1)

baenpb (1343241) | about a year ago | (#44279761)

I have no experience with Apple TV but I would say the same about roku. I'm a programmer in my 20s, and I get flustered by remotes with way too many buttons; i could imagine it would be worse if i was unaccustomed to electronics. Roku remote is simple, the (FEW) buttons are large and well labeled, and as long as there aren't too many apps installed, your grandparents should be able to easily find netflix.

Perhaps Hulu Plus instead? (5, Informative)

Oysterville (2944937) | about a year ago | (#44278867)

I know that you didn't ask about which service to choose, but given their age perhaps the long library of older TV shows offered by Hulu might be a better choice. They've got many shows from the 50's that might appeal to them more.

Re:Perhaps Hulu Plus instead? (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | about a year ago | (#44278945)

I think that, generally, Netflix still has tons more content (and no commercials)[0], but the good news is that pretty much every major device these days will support both -- so really, you can separate the device choice from the service choice (and the service is month-to-month anyway). Consider sitting with them and surfing the respective websites for the two services, and seeing where they find more interesting stuff to watch.

[0] I'm biased, given my employer

50s TV - Antennae (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279661)

If they want 50s TV, then just get an antennae. My local ABC affliate has "Me TV' on sub channel 2 (2.2 for those in Metro Atlanta) and has all those old shows on from the 50s, 60, and 70s.

Re:50s TV - Antennae (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about a year ago | (#44279789)

Antennas aren't as easy to use, though... you've got to move it around and turn the dial until you get it just right, and when you turn the channel you've got to do it again. Depending on how mobile and patient his parents are, it may be much easier for op to set things up and hand them a remote to something that is going to work as long as there is internet...

Re:50s TV - Antennae (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year ago | (#44279999)

Uh, I don't ever remember having to climb on the roof and twiddle the antenna to change channel.

Re:Perhaps Hulu Plus instead? (4, Informative)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44280077)

I'm watching The Andy Griffith Show on Netflix right now. Eight seasons with 30+ episodes per. I saw Leave it to Beaver too. Netflix library is getting bigger all the time. They just added Antiques Roadshow and lots of other PBS content.

Re:Perhaps Hulu Plus instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44280403)

What do you mean instead? The devices being considered can support both, subscribe to both. They are only $8 each. I consider Hulu Plus and Netflix to be complimentary services.


Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44278869)

Do you want that on your conscience !! Old people HATE computers !!

Ask slashdot (5, Funny)

stormpunk (515019) | about a year ago | (#44278871)

No, nobody has ever set up a Roku successfully. Netflix is a fad.

WTF is up with these ask slashdot questions? If it's not "give me teh codez" then it's "I've got a leaky faucet, is that a thing that's fixable or do I need a new house".

Re:Ask slashdot (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#44278923)

I actually laughed out loud at this one, thanks.

Re:Ask slashdot (2)

az1324 (458137) | about a year ago | (#44278979)

1. Ask a question that will likely result in lots of comments featuring buzzwords and brand names and personal anecdotes.
2. Get good page rank.
3. Leverage that page rank with advertisers.
4. $

Netflix Button (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44278879)

The sony blu-ray players with Wifi they sell at Best Buy (and other big box retailers) cost about the same as an Apple TV but, most importantly, have a big red button on the remote labeled "NETFLIX". My dad has one at his house and he loves it.

Re:Netflix Button (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#44278915)

I have found the sony Blue-Ray player Netflix integration to be HORRIBLE. The Roku is a like a breath of fresh air.

Re:Netflix Button (3, Interesting)

CrankyFool (680025) | about a year ago | (#44278921)

I'm not a big fan of CE devices' approach to Netflix, not so much because of the Netflix angle but because of their firmware update angle. I still have a Samsung BD player with Netflix, but they don't update the firmware on it (at least, not the part that deals with Netflix) and so its capabilities are extremely limited.

I've got a PS3, XBox, AppleTV, Wii, the aforementioned Samsung BD player, and a Roku at home; through work, I have access to pretty much every other device that plays Netflix. I prefer (and, more importantly given who we're talking about here, my non-tech wife prefers) the AppleTV as a streaming device.

Something built into the TV? Samsung? (5, Insightful)

vinn (4370) | about a year ago | (#44278885)

Perhaps get them a TV with Netflix already built into it? Something like a Samsung?

I think the key is to set up the remote properly so they can access everything using a minimal number of remote controls, preferably just one. I think that's what confuses most people.. hell it even confuses me.

Re:Something built into the TV? Samsung? (2)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#44279101)

Yup, if my 3 year old can start her cartoons in Netflix on our Samsung TV, I'm sure your parents can do it.

Re:Something built into the TV? Samsung? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279289)

I would not be so sure - they might, but 3 year olds are a lot more interrested in learning how to get things "their way" than old people, most old people will just yell and complain till they get their way (and there is nothing wrong with that, most old people are not as adventorous and want to learn new stuff as a 3yo) ofcourse you also have 3y olds who will just yell and complain, and you will have old people who are interrested in learning and/or using tech.

Re:Something built into the TV? Samsung? (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about a year ago | (#44279803)

My 3 year old starts his netflix cartoons on a Roku. But then again he also does that on a dual-boot pc...

Re:Something built into the TV? Samsung? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279323)

Just don't get a Panasonic for that. While I like mine for most things, the Netflix driver has a bug that causes the screen to blank out whenever the streaming resolution changes (at least that's what I think is happening). It is really annoying since the effect is similar to someone walking in front of a projector. Sometimes it was happening every 30 seconds to a minute, so I bought an Apple TV because it doesn't have that issue and I watch quite a bit of Netflix material.

Re:Something built into the TV? Samsung? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44280821)

My samsung blue ray/dvd player netflix support lasted only 2.5 years. It's been over a year since the last updade. And that updade removed subtitles support.

I'll never buy a samsung product again. The forums seem to indicate that they do not single source the manufacturing of their products but outsource batches of 10.000-20,000 at a time to fab shops. Not all sub-models of the popular models can be programmed to act the same way. Coverage (support) becomes spotty.

Blu Ray with Built in Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44278891)

I just did this setup for my grandmother. I put an auto-sensing HDMI switch connecting the Blu-Ray and Cable Box to the TV, and ran Cat5 Ethernet cable directly from the Blu-Ray to the router. (No wireless, no manual switching, super easy.) She hits the power button on the Blu-Ray remote (she'll never use the discs) and then hits the big red Netflix button on the remote. Apple TV and Roku are prettier, but this is far less complicated, bulletproof, and gets her watching Netflix with two button pushes.

Re:Blu Ray with Built in Netflix (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44280103)

Got a Logitech Harmony and set it up for AppleTV, same thing, one button to start TV and aTV.

what my parents use (3, Interesting)

miowpurr (1004277) | about a year ago | (#44278893)

Both of my parents (born in 1940) have their own iPad with the Netflix app installed. That way they can watch whatever they want, at whatever volume they need, and not fight over what to watch.

Perfect? (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about a year ago | (#44278989)

No more fighting over the remote, no complex wiring. No remote at all even - they can just touch the movies they want and it plays.

That is, if they don't mind holding their screen. If they really really want to use their large-screen TV an iPad may not be the best option, or maybe there's some iPad + Apple TV setup for Netflix?

Re:Perfect? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44280109)

Air Sharing works great with AppleTV. Use the iPad to pick the movie then share it to the TV. Drains the iPad but works fine.

Re:Perfect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44280877)

Which is pretty stupid, really. It'd be better to just have the iPad tell the appleTV to do the playing, but no.... that'd be outside of the way the apple police want to force you to use their gear...

Re:what my parents use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279019)

So, instead of calling out OP on the fact that he's an ungrateful prick, and telling him that he should be spending more time with his parents, talk some more, take them out to the country, etc.
you're suggesting separate tablets, so that they just stop talking with each other.

This really is a sad age. It's not the NSA, that shit was perfectly predictable. We're doing it to ourselves.

Re:what my parents use (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about a year ago | (#44280873)

Your comment is alarmist.

One could use the same kind of argument to say that TV was stopping communication between them in the first place. "In my time grandma and grandpa sat by the fireplace and talked while she knat, that TV thing keeps both of them from talking to each other, watching images move, like mindless zombies!"

Re:what my parents use (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about a year ago | (#44279055)

That's a good one. For a little cheaper, the Kindle Fire can also do Netflix. Smaller screen, I think. Also, either we're having some bad luck or it's a little buggy. The Netflix app crashes on us now and then when we're browsing and we've got to reopen it. Once streaming starts it's generally solid, it's the search interface that causes problems.

Re:what my parents use (1)

bluec (1427065) | about a year ago | (#44279253)

Yep Kindle Fire, or my choice the Nook HD which has HDTV HDMI output (via special connector). The Nook is on fire sale at the moment so worth consideration.

Re:what my parents use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279109)

He doesn't want a shitty ipad you plank! Typical Apple zealot, pushing shit for the sake of it instead of what is required.

Re:what my parents use (1)

kgskgs (938843) | about a year ago | (#44279891)

I second to that. Exact same situation and solution. My parents, both born in 40s, have iPads with netflix installed. Yes, high cost one time. But that one device gives them all, weather, newspapers, TV, video chat, pictures of whole family, games. They were not that computer literate and were not fond of computers before. But now love their iPads.

Re:what my parents use (4, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#44279967)

Married for 40 years and he sill has an opinion on what he wants to watch?

keep it simple stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44278903)

sat tv or on demand cable.

Re:keep it simple stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279069)

Get the feeling OP is a Generation Y kid that's never heard of broadcast media...

Re:keep it simple stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279197)

Depends on the person, age has little to do with it. Both sets of parents close to same age where very different when it came to what they understood or watched. One of them had no problem with streaming movies, smart phones, email, FB however the other no-matter what we setup said all that stuff is stupid and would only watch TV chan 2.

Sony BD-S3100 (1)

ldbapp (1316555) | about a year ago | (#44278905)

This is a combo DVD/Blu-Ray wifi internet connected device. I got it solely for the blu-ray player, but discovered how convenient the internet connection is. A netflix interface is built in. The remote control even has a "netflix" button. There's a tiny bit of setup that you can do, and after that, my over-70 mother can operate it just fine. It also has interfaces for hulu, vudu, and music services like pandora and slacker built in. I used to hook my laptop up to the tv to watch netflix, but no more. There's a selection of other lesser-known services available in the interface, too.

BigLauncher for Android (1)

PaulHammant (1322363) | about a year ago | (#44278937)

I'm not sure the devices are there yet, but [] would allow you to make a custom experience. Why this in particular? The elderly relative could be infirm to the level where they can't adequately type into application in order to look for something. They may instead prefer to click on things they are familiar with. Namely channels. Radio stations are nearly all fully represented online so the "live" experience is unchanged from the FM/AM broadcast one. TV - not so much yet. The added benefit, is that BigLauncher buttons could be to initiate calls with other family members too, if they are getting to the point where they're unable to remember dialing instructions even for quick-dial options on handsets.

Roku (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#44278959)

I have Roku and use it with Amazon Video (among other stuff).

It's pretty easy to use. Just make sure their TV is set to the right video input source and that it stays there. You don't want a late night phone call trying to explain how to switch between HDMI1, HDMI2, AV, TV ...

Re:Roku (1)

twistofsin (718250) | about a year ago | (#44279073)

Another Roku owner here. Me and my wife use it for Netflix, Hulu Plus, and MP4's on USB sticks. The remote is very simple and the user interface is to.

Re:Roku (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44280121)

Get a Harmony Remote and it will switch the inputs for you.

A Smart TV (1)

poet (8021) | about a year ago | (#44278981)

A smart TV is what I would get them. It is completely self contained, no extra box, no extra remote. They have Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix and even Vudu I believe.

nice grandchild you are (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44278991)

In the time of their lives when their faculties are declining, you're going to hook them to a brain-rotting spigot of drivel. Why not get them Kindles?

Re:nice grandchild you are (1)

aminorex (141494) | about a year ago | (#44280607)

Same reason it's hard to get opiates until you're terminal.

Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279035)

Its cheap, you can do a lot more with it and its so easy even a child can use it... (even my 3 yo can handle it with ease :D) to stream the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279041)

As long as they use a browser they can use [] to stream video between them and everyone else, let them be more social instead of just giving them another one-eyed babysitter.

Get them a used Wii (1)

Dr. Crash (237179) | about a year ago | (#44279079)

A used Wii ($99 at your local GameStop) loaded up with NetFlix and Hulu will do everything you need.

My three-year-olds can use it, and they can't even read.

It's also a heck of a lot cheaper than any of the other solutions, too, and it's totally zero-maintenance. And if/when they break it, it's a tiny cost
to just get a new one.

Re:Get them a used Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279121)

What sort of video output does a Wii offer? I thought it was 480p, no HDMI. I think a PS3 slim is a better console alternative if you want Netflix.

Re:Get them a used Wii (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44280063)

who gives a shit when granny is going to hook it up to a 1990 floor model zenith

Re:Get them a used Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279137)

I just got a used Wii for $30 specifically for Netflix. Works good.

Re:Get them a used Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279139)

Wii doesn't do HD, the controllers are shit enough for able bodied people, let alone the elderly.

Why get a garbage console when there are dedicated media device that offer all the streaming services with a proper remote designed for media. Boxee box, Roku et al shit all over what the Wii can do, and they'll read media from networks and USB storage.

Anyone spending $99 on a used Wii is a mug, $40 tops including a number of shovelware games.

Re:Get them a used Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279149)

Apply TV is $99 as well, isn't it?

Have you considered a Tivo instead? (2)

wkearney99 (75906) | about a year ago | (#44279085)

Least troublesome would be a Tivo. We gave the grandparents one 10 years ago and they took to it with absolutely no trouble at all. Including using Netflix for viewing. The menu structure just never gets them lost. And the remote it likewise straightforward to use. Sure, there's a monthly subscription for it, but the convenience and lack of support calls back to me is totally worth it (for both me and them).

They use an iPad for just about everything else. They could use that for Netflix viewing but prefer the TV. And since there's no decent way to do airplay to TV without an apple TV (which is shit otherwise) that's fine. They have a Mac Mini connected to the TV but don't make much use of it. It's only there at this point to act as a bridge for the iPad to print through.

Consider WD TV Play (4, Informative)

fuego451 (958976) | about a year ago | (#44279173)

I'm a great-grandfather so I suppose I'd qualify as 'elderly', though I have no idea what that word means and I don't like it. I have several streaming devices but only one that I'd recommend for people of any age who are technically challenged and that's the WD (Western Digital) TV Play. Much like the Roku and Apple TV, the WD is small, easy to set up and less expensive than the Roku and Apple; a big plus for us 'elderly' on fixed incomes. I'm currently using it on an older HD TV and it has never given me any problems and doesn't do any weird shit on its own; like my streaming blu ray player does. Oh, and did I tell you it runs imbedded Linux? How could you possibly go wrong?

Re:Consider WD TV Play (1)

corychristison (951993) | about a year ago | (#44280043)

I'm in my mid-twenties and recently moved from a linux HTPC to a WD TV Live (slightly larger and more expensive as the Play). My kids use it for Netflix and I use it to stream my 2TB Media collection off my primary workstation over the network via NFS.

It has its quirks, but it does work majority of the time. My biggest issue is that HDMI-CEC doesnt seem to work. That may be my 6+ year old Samsung TV being tempermental, though. For the $100 I paid I really cannot complain.

Roku 3 (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#44279193)

Buy them Roku 3, and somewhere, anywhere, with a good internet connection, install Plex Media Server. It is amazing how transparent and how easy to use this solution is.

On the next Ask Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279199)

Sometimes when I'm gaming I really have to go to the bathroom but I'm too lazy to interrupt my game, get up off my ass and walk to the can. Should I invest in a catheter or suck it up and piss on a toilet like a normal human being? Help me, Slashdotters!

Re:On the next Ask Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44280431)

"Sometimes when I'm gaming I really have to go to the bathroom but I'm too lazy to interrupt my game, get up off my ass and walk to the can. Should I invest in a catheter or suck it up and piss on a toilet like a normal human being? Help me, Slashdotters!"

Can't you just use a toilet chair like everybody else?

Not age but speed the limiting factor. (1)

ElectroVaping (2983501) | about a year ago | (#44279219)

My parents are both in their late sixties and are very capable when it comes to technology. However, the village they live in the broadband speed is so slow none of these services can be used. All they have is sky or ALLOT of buffering. I have the same problem my broadband is so slow 3G seems like light speed!! (I'm in the U.K.)

PS3 is a safe bet (0)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year ago | (#44279259)

A PS3 is your best bet and offers the biggest bang for the buck. You can download and install Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, plus it has a text and if you add on a web cam, you can access the AV Chat feature.

While they may not be interested in games, the built in Blue Ray DVD player is top of the line so it can double as their DVD player for movies as well.

Myth TV (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44279269)

MythTV. A rule of thumb in setting up any system is to put yourself in the place of the user.

By the time you get it working, you'll be as old as they are now. (drrrTISH!!!)

Re:Myth TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279849)

Myth TV is such fail. It's like a turd that won't flush.

AppleTV with caveats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279287)

I love the AppleTV, but the big interface issue is that the very top row of icons are "Movies", "TV Shows", etc, that are links to the Apple iTunes Store. So if they think "I want to watch a movie," they'll go to Movies to where they'll be charged individual rental fees.

It would take noticeable training to get them to recognize "I want to watch a movie" means "go to Netflix". (Same with TV shows and iTunes vs. Hulu Plus.)

Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279357)

Just get them a Wii. My parents (both born in the 40's) actively shun technology, but have found the Wii to be user friendly, even when using netflix.

Streaming suggestion (1)

cormandy (513901) | about a year ago | (#44279393)

I recommend that they check out Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy.

Red Box = Coke Machine with movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279395)

Tell your grandparents that Red Box is a Coke dispenser that gives out movies instead and also takes them back for recycling.

Re:Red Box = Coke Machine with movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279511)

No kidding! If they can't handle Red Box, they certainly can't handle a streaming service.

Cheap, old Ninentdo Wii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279429)

I use mine solely for Netflix. Works great, and the UI is simple enough for children/elderly.

Re:Cheap, old Ninentdo Wii (1)

aminorex (141494) | about a year ago | (#44280591)

Not HD quality, however.

iPad -- Nufsed (3, Interesting)

m6ack (922653) | about a year ago | (#44279665)

If you are interested in no fuss, get your elderly parent an iPad. They will love it with Netflix streaming because they can make it as close to their eyes as necessary for them, and they -- and they can get a good quality pair of headphones (with inductive coupling to the hearing aid, possibly) to make it eaisier for them to hear. And yes, the ipad app has captioning.

When they are more comfortable, they will download books and recipies, and love it because the paper won't take up much space in their home and they can enlarge the text to exactly what they want. They will be delighted when they figure out how best to do video chat with you (whether that might be Facetime or otherwise) for "free."

And for you, once her internet connection is up and running, the purchase will be a "painless" one for support... no need to configure the device for her, no need to "set the clock on the DVD player" or what have you... You will be free to have conversations about more important things for your life.

This is from a long time Linux geek whose 70+ year old mom is pleased as punch with her iPad. Even though I am a die-hard Linux guy & would rather have myself on the latest and greatest Linux-ish device -- her happiness & piece of mind is worth a lot to me. This makes her happy.

Roku or tablet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44279963)

One aging parent makes good use of Roku and an Android tablet. Another can use the Roku, but never took to the tablet. I think tablets and specific streaming boxes like Apple TV, Roku or Western Digital TV etc. etc. are your two best choices. Obviously the Roku or similar is easier if they don't have experience with computers or prefer not to interact with computers.

Raspberry Pi? (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about a year ago | (#44279971)

Why isn't anyone recommending the Pi? OpenElec seems to be good and headed in the right direction. Not having a remote (using a website) seems easier... am I missing something?

Re:Raspberry Pi? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44280071)

yea netflix doesnt work on linux, and no one wants to fuck with a website to change the tv

Re:Raspberry Pi? (1)

aminorex (141494) | about a year ago | (#44280585)

Netflix works fine on Ubuntu.

Re:Raspberry Pi? (2)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about a year ago | (#44280173)

For not much more than the cost of a Pi (plus all the required accessories), if not the same cost, there are plenty of alternatives on the market that do a far better job.

I love tinkering with hardware and software as much as the next guy, but when I come home from work I enjoy the ease of use my WDTV Live provides. It's simple to use and supports Netflix along with various other streaming services. And the OP could even provide USB sticks now and again loaded with MKVs for his grandparents to view.

I'd favor a Roku (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44280001)

Lots of channel options, the new UI is pretty simple and it should integrate well with an HD TV.

I don't like the Ipad for this - 10" screen is too small to share watching a film with a spouse.

Another good option would be a smart TV.

interlibrary loan everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44280573)

Teach them about your local library's inter library loan system. Many will have older movie titles. Your parents are comfortable with the use of a dvd? Many library will offer delivery to those who no longer drive.
Your parent could get large print books, books on tape, and join and adult book discussion group.
The best part: it is FREE!

Re: interlibrary loan everything (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about a year ago | (#44280799)

I get books on my kobo ereader. The local libraries will lend ebooks for it, too. And I can adjust the print size as large as I want.

-- hendrik

This is a commodity item (1)

aminorex (141494) | about a year ago | (#44280579)

Any Android tablet will do everything you mentioned. For $200 you can get a Nook HD 9+ with an HDMI adapter.

Check, DVD players. (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about a year ago | (#44280621)

For $100 there are dvd players with streaming internet services built in, WiFi and all. This permits streaming or physical DVD options.

My library has a pile of DVDs even music CDs to loan.

This technology changes so quick that a smart player, even X-box can prove better than a smart TV.

Unlimited net access (1)

pbjones (315127) | about a year ago | (#44280765)

I have an Apple TV and a DVD player with streaming, and I have hit 25gig cap easily each month. My iPad streams nonATV streams via AirPlay so I don't miss anything.

Wii or Transformer? (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about a year ago | (#44280769)

I use a Wii to watch netflix. It connects to the TV just fine. The controller is a litte bouncy, though, when you're too far from the TV. My wife has Parkinson's, so this is a bit of an issue, but she can still manage to use it from the opposite corner of the room, where she likes to sit.

And an added benefit is that she uses WiiFit and similar games. Some of them are excellent balance exercises. Others involve the large body movements that seem to be good as slowing the progression of the disease.

I've used an Asus Transformer with an HDMI cable to play anime from Crunchyroll on the TV. Works fine, but I have to get close to the TV to use the Transformer's touch screen.

I don't know whether the Wii does closed-captioning or subtitling.

Crunchyroll always does English subtitles -- the audio is all Japanese.

-- hendrik

tech for aging in place (1)

redwagonfive (2834945) | about a year ago | (#44280773)

Are you picking a single technology to allow your parents to watch movies? Or are you selecting a control point for your parents as they age in place? If you are selecting one technology, I would go for the Xbox. The gesture control will be manageable for them. Learning to use a game controller is going to be very difficult, and frustrating. The push downloads will be acceptable, they expect magic technology to demand some compliance. The capacity for audio and gesture interaction will generally be useful -- obviously I am advocated for Kinect. If you look at the work at Georgia Tech, IU and U Washington on this you will find that alternative modes of interaction, like audio, tend to be preferred by elders. In part because it makes sense as an interaction, and in part because they end to dislike handheld devices. Ok, this is snark but remote changes and handheld devices can be overly complex: [] A general purpose computer is a bad idea unless you want to engage in some serious security management and tech education. Another driver is what you, as apparently the family technologist, use. If you can provide remote support, that is nice. What is really good is when the technological interactions enhance the interpersonal interactions. One very common fear of elders is that the technology can be a substitute, not a complement, to f2f interaction. So if the technology becomes a source of interaction now, then later adoption of technology (for your peace of mind and their health) will be easier. SO, for example if you want a monitor to text you when the door opens if granddad gets a little early dementia, their experience with this technology has a very high degree of probability of influencing later technology adoptions. Ideally, have them over at your house to interact and if you do not have an Xbox, then take them to Best Buy Work with them. Judge their comfort level with various interactions. Do not tell them it is simple. Please do not tell them that because it being simple will shut down their responses. Show them physical and audio interactions. Talk about this "fit" not better/worse. Now, I am basing this on academic studies in design for elders. Some of those studies can be found in the open access journal Gerontechnology [] and some of the Aging in Place and design for elders. While I love the construct of Aging In Place, I have only very strong disappointment for most of the books that use those terms. Also, many of them are wildly overpriced. You might like "Design and the Digital Divide: Computer Support for Older and Disabled People" by Newell. Remember this is a first tech choice. As they become more vulnerable, their acceptance of tech you choose will be informed by this experience. Patience with them now will pay off later.

WDTV/Roku, Android Tablet/PC, and more (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | about a year ago | (#44280803)

It really depends on exactly what the people in question are looking to do and what they are comfortable with. For instance, do they pretty much want to watch "Something", or do they have particular tastes and will request access to different media from multiple sources.

The first major decision basically comes down to form-factor - will they best enjoy a tablet that they can carry around with them (possibly usable for other things like acting as an e-reader), and generally keep close by? Or do they have a TV/Monitor that they'd prefer to use, thereby necessitating some sort of streamer box? Perhaps both? Also, make sure you take into account if they need any additional networking hardware or ISP services. You say they have the Internet, but if you're going to be looking into streaming media, they at least need some decent broadband lest they feel the thing is always "on the fritz" because of insufficient bandwidth. Thankfully, Cable/Fiber or even DSL (though, I'd go cable/FIOS if available) would be able to provide a sufficient package for relatively cheap, easily under $50 a month, that will ensure they will have the bandwidth for everything they could want. Likewise, you may need to provide them some networking hardware, like a sufficient wireless router and/or run some ethernet cables depending on what you decide.

If a tablet is the best option (or a part of the plan), then I suggest something like a Nexus 7 or 10 depending on the size/form factor that would be best for them. They're inexpensive, high quality, easy for you to support/configure, and have lots of options while also allowing you to hide any complexity under the hood. Using an Android tablet, they can bring it as close to their eyes as necessary for optimal enjoyment. There are plenty of media options for Android that you can configure for them, from Netflix/Roku clients to being able to watch local media (perhaps they have converted home media on their PCs?) and more. You could even us XBMC for Android and configure it for them, to download captions/subtitles for everything. There's also the additional bonus of being able to use the tablet as an e-reader or to play little games, communicate via email, or manage their schedules, if they are interested in these features. I've found that older people who are reasonably open to new technology (as long as it isn't too confusing and there is someone to set it up/give them a tutorial on average) generally don't have much trouble with today's tablets. While I suggest Android for a number of reasons including ease of maintenance, cost and options, if you or they are completely enamored with Apple and are comfortable staying in the Apple ecosystem nearly entirely (ie Getting everything from iTunes etc..), that path is open as well - though I really think it can be limiting and expensive.

If they want some sort of device that is going to basically operate as a television, hooked up to a monitor/TV, that is another path worthwhile. Here, you can decide on "all in one" boxes such as the WDTV lineup and Roku, but this will depend on how much your grandparents will be interested in? That is to say, most of these boxes have a limited featureset - Netflix etc... apps are all pre-installed on these "SmartTV-like" devices and you aren't going to deviate too much from them without hitting a wall. A Roku 3 could be a great option if they like the "channels" present on one of those, but will they also have local media they want to view as well? The WDTV doesn't have quite as many channels as the Roku, but has better codec support for local media. If they want more than just Netflix and Hulu, it may be worth looking for a more "custom" option such as one of the "Android sticks", building them a HTPC or the like which can be configured with XBMC and all sorts of things that could interest them.

No matter what, it is important to consider the long-term prices they (or you) will be willing to pay for these streaming channels if you plan to go that route. Its one thing to provide them the hardware and whatnot to help ease the financial burden of transition, but for Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBOGo, any live sports etc... will require subscriptions. Depending on their viewing preferences, this could become costly. Something to keep aware of. Depending on the kind of programming they enjoy, some free services (ie BBC iPlayer ) may have what they're looking for. Others (like Vimeo, YouTube etc..) may have "lower quality" programming or require more searching to find what they wish; that's often the cost of "free".

There are lots of choices available to you and your grandparents, depending on their particular interests, your/their finances, and more.

Try (0)

jbrohan (1102957) | about a year ago | (#44280811)

This is pretty exactly our target demographic. We have a goal of zero user interface for the senior. At the moment the system plays a gallery of pictures of family events and runs youtubes, as well as a "phone your hard-of-hearing grannie" . We are aiming to be able to set up channels and have the son choose for his father / grandfather what he would like to watch. A new TED lecture at 3:00pm eery day for example. Not for everyone, but for people whose elders do not want to learn a new complicated computer system it's just the thing. The goal is to offer significant functionality without ANY user interface. Runs on Android Dongles ($50) attached to an LCD screen or modern tv. Of course if the elder is willing to learn to use a mouse it's more fun to control your own entertainement, but at the extreme end it's aimed at keeping him in hi own home longer. check out contribute your ideas!

Roku (1)

JoeSavage (906113) | about a year ago | (#44280889)

Roku is great. Subtitle support plus really easy to use. My parents are in their late 70's and they can easily manage it....and they are the farthest thing from tech-savvy. I have the Apple TV 2 but have never used it for Netflix. I would think it would deliver virtually equivalent functionality. The benefit of the Roku 3 is that the remote has a headphone jack, so one person could watch movies without disturbing the other who was sleeping, reading the newspaper, or yelling at kids to get off his lawn.
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