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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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  • Kindle Fire (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gravis777 (123605) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:52AM (#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.

  • iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pev (2186) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:52AM (#45631683) Homepage

    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!

  • Chrome Book (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:57AM (#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 [], most of them haved a 11.6'' display, but there are several with a 14'' display. Also, they're dirt cheap.

  • Asus Nexus 7 $200 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:04AM (#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.

  • Re:For bling people (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rainer_d (115765) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:16AM (#45631757) Homepage
    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: iPad (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:49AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:30AM (#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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:36AM (#45631989)
    Except for the personal configuration part.
  • Re:Get an iPad (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:38AM (#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

  • Re:This ^ (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:48AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:07AM (#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.

  • Re:Get an iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by emblemparade (774653) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:02AM (#45632335)

    I guess YMMV. I suggest the iPad, strongly.

    I got my parents each an iPad as a gift, and it was life transforming, especially for my mom. She never got a hang of computers, even though she even tried to take some computer classes. The mouse, the overlapping windowing interface, dialogs that pop up... a constant source of frustration. Desktop OSes require so much knowledge to just do basic things: we who were raised with them take it for granted. But the iPad somehow made sense to her. She never stops thanking me for it! She emails every day, looks up things in Google, and has recently started to use Facebook (although she is very confused by the interface... heck, I'm a programmer and I can barely understand FB's interface...). We also use Skype a lot, and it works great! Though she often forgets that she needs to "see my name in green" to know that I'm actually have Skype open. She thinks of the whole device as "also a telephone" and still doesn't quite understand that an "app" has to be open.

    Related: my mom had a Galaxy phone at the time, and of course couldn't make heads or tails of it. But, once she "understood" the iPad, she also understood that the iPhone is just a "small iPad", and got one for herself. I'm so proud of her. :) It's also really interesting for me to see how she is exploring this new world in pretty much the opposite direction of what I expected: tablet first, smartphone later. Also interesting, I thought she might find the iPad Mini better, because she carries her iPad around all the time. But she told me she saw one that a friend of hers had, and thought it was ridiculously small and pointless!

    For the record, I'm the ... opposite of an Apple fanboi. I have a Nexus 10 tablet myself, rooted with CynaogenMod. I use Ubuntu exclusively for my desktop and traveling netbook. For my needs, those are definitely the better choices. But for my mom, I must concede that iOS is simply easier to use. Fewer menus, fewer options, and that's all good for someone who is confused by even one option. I've learned that my mom not only has different needs, but also views these technologies from an entirely different, and I would say fresher perspective than mine.

    Trust me: get you dad an old iPad, it may change his life. You definitely don't need an iPad 2 in terms of power, although consider the iPad Air. I'm thinking of upgrading my mom to it, I think she might appreciate the lighter weight.

    Also: I don't know how old your dad is and how his vision is, but also look into increasing the font sizes, and show him how to use the click-zoom feature. It's built into the iPad, and can definitely help older folks.

  • Re:Get an iPad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:09AM (#45632369) Homepage

    Apple DOES let you do that, get the camera kit like you are supposed to, back when I had a starter DSLR that only shot 10 megapixels I did it all the time.

    Now my new DSLR, I did not even try because why in the world would I want to load up my tiny 64gig of storage space with 24megapixel photos when I have 5 32gig memory cards on me. and 32gig cards are dirt cheap.

    Oh and please tell me WHAT android tablet has a standard USB A plug on it for your camera, you seem to be making things up about your complaints. Every single android tablet I have owned, Nexus 7, Nexus10, you have to do major hacks to get the micro USB to act as a host, certianly out of reach for 99% of tablet users.

    Lastly please tell me what this fetish is with the newbie photographers wanting their DSLR connect to the tablet? there is no good reason at all for it. Slow usb2.0 transfers take forever and a day if you think you will be showing a "client" the photo. if you really are desperate to look like inspector gadget, buy EyeFi cards and transfer them wirelessly, that way you can shoot RAW+JPEG and have the jpegs go to the tablet and have the RAW files for real processing later. If I really need to show a client a photo, I simply pull the 15" laptop out of my camera bag and show them. But I highly discourage this as those are raw photos and breaks the flow. They can see the proofs later when we meet and I have had time to deal with them properly.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:28AM (#45632759)

    Anything Android. Apple is not easy, it's just consistent. Android can be customized for the user to be wrapped around *their* paradigm of understanding. Apple just flips you the bird; it's their way or the highway.

    Get something with at least a 10" screen. Maybe there are also accessibility apps that can "magnify" the screen globally enlarge text sizes.

    Research and install the simplest launcher you can find; one where you can change the icon size and names. Remove as much abstractive association as possible., ie.: "Netflix" becomes "TV and Movies", whatever mail app it has becomes "email", "Chrome" becomes "Internet" (yes, I know, millions of nerds just cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced) ... you get the idea. Everything should just be exactly what it says.

    Cyanogenmod has a secondary "Car Home" launcher that is really just a launcher with big, customizable icons (in a 2x3 grid, IIRC, so that'll be huge on a 10" tablet)

    This isn't about having the latest and greatest geekery, he obviously won't give a shit. This is about *you* being able to make this as simple as possible for him.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)