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Ask Slashdot: Easy Wi-Fi-Enabled Tablet For My Dad? 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-the-weather-channel-made-a-tablet dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: Easy Wi-Fi-Enabled Tablet For My Dad?

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  • Re:iPad (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:04AM (#45631715) Homepage

    Google Nexus

  • Re: iPad (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:24AM (#45631781)

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

  • Re:Kindle Fire (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:08AM (#45631905)


    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.

  • by WHExeter (685854) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:51AM (#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.
  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:31AM (#45632201)

    I got the same situation and went with an Android for my parents. Here's why:

    1- With many tablets (all Samsung ones, all rooted ones, many others), TeamViewer Quick Support allows you to remote control the tablet from your PC (like Remote Desktop in Windows), which comes in very handy when doing support to a complete techno ignoramus

    2- Widgets make things real easy. The home displays his new emails, the weather, a picture frame of the grandkids, maybe some news, and shortcuts to favorite sites and games.

    3- 10" is required, because eyes and fingers are old

    4- the price is right. an Asus MemoPad 10 is around $229 (190 euros in my country), there's no reason to spend more.

  • Re:iPad (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cosmic Debris (650504) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:49AM (#45632261)
    Seconded. My 85-year-old father has had an iPad literally from day 1. My brother was living with my parents when the iPad came out and he went to the nearby Apple store and got them both 1st gen iPads. My brother has since passed away and I updated his iPad to a 3rd gen model and got a matching model so I could help him out over the phone...something that has turned out to be almost unnecessary.

    Yeah, it was a metric ton of money but thus far worth every penny. My mother is home-bound and my Dad is her primary caregiver. He greatly enjoys the iPad and has had no trouble using it. He has virtually abandoned his old Mac G5 tower. The iPad is a great social connection to his remaining college chums and keeps him in touch with the grandchildren on Facebook. He loves to play various word games like "Words with Friends."

    To be fair, this could all be done with a modern Android-based tablet and I don't think my Dad would have any trouble with it but honestly I'm not going to change horses mid-stream. But the huge app base for iOS helps greatly plus a good deal of my brothers and sisters plus their children have iPads so things are just easier. I never thought I'd advocate for monoculture like this (or even appear to) but this has brought a great deal of joy into my Father's life as my Mother's health has gone downhill over the past few years. This alone has made the iPads worth every penny.

    My advice: look at an iPad first but whatever you do don't cheap out.

  • Re:iPad (Score:5, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:52AM (#45632277) Homepage
    One advantage of getting him an iPad that can run iOS7 is the fact that it has a setting to scale the default font size up and down. It only works for apps that support it, but the built-in Mail app is one of them, so you can scale the text size up for him.
  • Re:Get an iPad (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:00AM (#45632323) Homepage

    Every single old person with bad eyesight I have talked to LOVES IOS 7 because it's higher contrast and easier to read.

    How did you come to your discovery? how many people did you talk to that used ios 6 and then used ios 7? Because my sample pool is about 20 people.

  • Re: iPad (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:11AM (#45632381)

    "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? "

    Yes. Apple doesn't scan your files like Google does.

    "As the AC says below, Apple hardware are front ends for iTunes. "

    No. Bullshit. The profit is minimal.

    "Some of us do consider ethical problems in tech. Apple has never been in trouble for "in app purchases" by kids? "

    Only if the patents are so stupid not to use parental restrictions.

    It's the parent fault. Not Apple's.

    "My android has had "profiles" for some time now. The kids profile doesnt have a Credit Card attached."

    Just like with Apple stuff. Only better. Don't let your ignorance and Apple hate shine so through.

    "Read about why Jobs said the i* devices will never be made in the US, "

    You mean like Samsung stuff is made with child labour?

    "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)."

    Just like Google who pay a lower tax rate than Apple.

    Fandroids are real idiots and applaud themselves.

  • Re:iPad (Score:3, Informative)

    by nbauman (624611) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:23AM (#45632451) Homepage Journal

    The high pixel density on the latest displays is wasted on someone with declining eyesight and presbyopia

    The original poster didn't say anything about declining eyesight and presbyopia.

    I'm 70 years old and I can tell the difference between 2048x1536 and 1280x1024. Especially when I'm reading.

  • Re:This ^ (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:25AM (#45632737)

    "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."

    Albeit being a few decades younger, I bought myself a toddler case for the iPad, with a fat elastic grip all around, which makes it easy for everybody to hold, not only toddlers and old people.
    Here are a few examples: []

  • Re:iPad (Score:5, Informative)

    by OldeTimeGeek (725417) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @12:00PM (#45632997)
    As someone who is suffering from declining eyesight because of too many years looking at CRTs, I have to disagree. I recently switched from a first generation iPad to a higher version and have to say that the increased resolution means, to me at least, that the screen is a lot easier to reed. The extra resolution makes the characters on a web page or email a lot less fuzzy and I don't have to concentrate to as much to make out what it says.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:57PM (#45635593) Homepage Journal
    Get him a Kindle Fire HDX. It's not the best tablet on the market, but it's a decent one, and it has the "Mayday" button - press it and he has Amazon, not you, doing tech support 24/7/365.

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"