The 3 Best Tablets For Senior Citizens

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Seniors often find themselves the butt of jokes about technological ineptitude. In truth, many senior citizens have as much an interest in technology as the punks who mock them. But people do grow older, and as we do, our priorities tend to change. Senior citizens often find themselves looking for products that are powerful yet easy to use, not only out of a desire to simplify, but also because older buyers can often afford exactly what they want.

Not every tablet will do for a crowd as discerning as senior citizens. They want a product that just works, and works well, but also provides access to books and videos as well as communication with family. Here are three picks wonderfully suited for those needs.

Apple iPad mini (from $329)

ipad mini review 12   The 3 Best Tablets For Senior Citizens

The appearance of an iPad at the top of this list will surprise no one. Apple’s iOS has a reputation for simple, reliable operation, and app selection remains superior to the competition. But why pick the mini instead of the regular iPad?

One reason is weight and size. While the iPad isn’t huge, many people find the lighter, thinner, smaller iPad mini easier to handle. Seniors who suffer from joint difficulties or weakness will appreciate the mini’s more manageable size. This is particularly true for those who want to read ebooks, as the smaller iPad is much easier to hold for long periods of time.

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Price is also an advantage, as the iPad Mini starts at just $329. The display is not Retina quality, and the processor is not as fast as the standard iPad, but these disadvantages are not a serious issue outside of gaming and a few other niche tasks.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 (from $269)

kindlefire890   The 3 Best Tablets For Senior Citizens

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is, as a piece of hardware, not terribly interesting. The tablet has a reasonably fast processor, a 1920×1200 display, and a dual-band WiFi antenna, but none of these features are unheard of in this segment, even at the Fire HD 8.9’s bargain price of $269.

What really sets this choice apart is Amazon’s ecosystem. While it doesn’t offer the widest array of apps, it does provide very direct access to ebooks and movies available through Amazon’s digital storefront. Seniors who want a tablet for entertainment purposes will absolutely love the easy access to everything purchased via Amazon, and users who sign up for Amazon Prime will have access to a library of streaming video and also can “borrow” one ebook every month.

While the larger HD 8.9 is a well-rounded tablet, the standard Kindle Fire HD should not be forgotten. Its smaller 7-inch display offers a resolution of just 1280×800, so movies don’t pop as they do on its big brother, but the Fire HD is lighter and priced at just $159. That makes it a great choice for seniors who want a tablet for browsing the web and reading books.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ (from $149)

nookhdplus   The 3 Best Tablets For Senior Citizens

At this point it’s clear that Barnes & Noble has lost its tablet war with Amazon. Perhaps that was inevitable; the company’s online presence is but a fraction of its competitor. But that doesn’t mean you should exclude the Nook HD+ from your search.

This device excels as a basic, no-frills tablet for seniors who want a tablet, but not so much that they’re willing to spend several hundred dollars. Though it sells for just $149, the Nook HD+ offers 9-inch 1920×1280 display, a dual-core processor and good battery life. In other words, its specifications are similar to the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 – but the Nook is $110 less.

The trade-off for the low price is a relatively bare-bones operating system. Barnes & Noble has a great selection of ebooks, of course, and the Nook is a great eReader, but movies are only available through Google Play. Another major ding against the Nook HD+ is a complete lack of cameras. Seniors hoping they could use their tablet for video chat or photographs are out of luck with this tablet.

A Viable Alternative: The Chromebook

Screenshot 45   The 3 Best Tablets For Senior Citizens

Tablets are great choice, but if you’re considering a product in this category, there’s another item you might want to look at: the Chromebook.

Chromebooks are laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS, a stripped-down operating system that largely centers on web browsing. Users can’t run Windows apps on a Chromebook, but anything that works through a browser (like Gmail, Dropbox or Google Hangout) works here. In all other respects, these systems are normal laptops with a conventional keyboard and touchpad. Prices range from $200 to $350, so if you can afford a tablet, you can afford one of these.

Whether this might be the better choice depends on your needs. Not every senior citizen likes touch, and individuals who communicate a lot through Facebook or email may prefer the physical keyboard. Chromebooks are also great for browsing the web, thanks to their speedy performance and smooth touchpad gestures.

But there are some disadvantages to note. They don’t work very well as eReaders, can’t display movies in full HD, have access to a slim selection of apps, and force users into Google’s ecosystem (you can’t even log in without a Google account). If you’re tossing up between a tablet and a laptop because you prefer physical keys, don’t forget you can accessorize any tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard for longer stretches of typing.

Conclusion

This list doesn’t necessarily mean that other tablets aren’t suited for seniors. A tech-savvy individual will probably be comfortable with any option, and some (like the Samsung Note, which has a stylus) fill a very specific role. But, with that said, these picks provide good options for most people, and should be considered first.

Image Credit: Flickr/Tribehut

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22 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Marte B

Matt, you don’t look like a senior citizen to me. I’d love to hear more about how you picked these tablets–did you consult with some older people to find out what it is that they really like?

By the way, I’m 62 and I just bought a Galaxy Tab 2. Of course, my first computer was an IBM mainframe in 1969.

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Bruce

Hi, as a 72 year young senior I just purchased a Nexsus 7 2nd gen and love it. I have an iPod 4 for several years but now prefer the Nexsus.

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Jerry

I have the Nook HD+, I’m 68, I got it because I can dual boot it and run Android 4.1. The microSD allows this. I considered the Kindle but the $ for the Nook and the expansion. I like it.

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Charles

I am a 80year old male and love my Nexus 7

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Alykhan

I teach seniors computers and we’ve completely switched over to iPads. Older seniors had a terrible time with the mouse/touchpad and navigating the start button and minimizing and maximizing windows was challenge.

Since we’ve switched to iPads, the courseware has shifted from OS fundamentals to email, photos, Skype and picking the best apps for music and movies. Its amazing what a difference iPads have made to my students.

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Lee

Well, I am 60, husband is 68. I like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 inch because I read a lot of books and can get the writing big as I like. I can also get books from different sources, which is the only complaint with either Kindle or Nook. My husband likes his Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 inch.

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Jeff Schallenberg

Very poorly-researched article. What are your criteria for selecting the “best” tablet for “seniors”?
I am 72, and my wife is 75. We both count on our Android tablets for news, shopping, gaming, communication and general research. In our case, the prime criterion was price. With Android, you can get inexpensive or free apps for all those uses, and there are many ways to adjust the user interface for reduced visual acuity or impaired hand-eye coordination. Older eyes don’t benefit from Retina displays, which can bring the cost down considerably.

You also didn’t consider that lots of us “seniors” grew up with computers whose “user interface” was punched cards or paper tape! My first computer was an IBM 1410 running Fortran IV. So, many “seniors” have no problem working with modern UIs.

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likefunbutnot

Neither the Nook nor the Kindle have a particularly compelling launcher configuration; they’re both designed more to showcase one’s purchases and ability to make purchases in the future rather than serve as a computing environment.

The ipad – and this is absolutely the ONLY nice thing I can say about one – at least has the advantage in this case in that there’s more or less only one set of instructions to follow since there are approximately zero ways to customize the experience Apple demands that all its congregants follow.

But many other Android tablets include a simple mode of some sort. It might be somewhat unfortunately named (e.g. “Kid Mode”) but the end result would be the same: big icons and limited visible options, but the ability to turn it off when needed. I was hoping to see some discussion of things like that. My mother uses a 10″ Samsung tablet with a very carefully chosen home screen setup and bluetooth keyboard. She found a Kindle Fire to be too confusing since its launcher regularly changes the icons shown on the home screen and the on-screen keyboard a little too hard to use for real typing.

If I had a wishlist of software to have on a tablet that I was going to give to a less sophisticated user, I’d love to have some kind of web control over the Settings interface, home screen configuration and an ability to transfer files to or from the device. It’s possible to automate photo uploads on iOS and on Android, but the killer features here would be to be able to see that “Oh, you accidentally took a 45 minute video of the inside of your purse and that’s why you can’t take any more pictures” or “Here, let’s take all that Christmas music off now that it’s April.” As things stand now, the closest I can get is to use Google Drive and Picasa to put things someplace my Mom can find them, but that doesn’t help for data that’s already on the device.

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Erin (from itsTidyTime.com)

Wow, I am blown away by the seniors commenting in this article; You guys are awesome! The seniors and middle-agers in my life are not so tech-savvy, which is how I came across this headline but, it’s great to hear from another side of the senior tech sector.

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Erin (from itsTidyTime.com)

To add to that: I am mainly Android myself but, both my mother and grandmother have been continually frustrated with desktop PC’s & laptops and have recently made a rather easy transition to iPads. (Whatever works!)

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john jacobs

This review is a joke. iPad mini because elderly have ” joint difficulties”?? Senior citizens are not that fragile.

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Ediz

I am 77 and manage very well and enjoy my second Nexus 7 (first stolen).

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Fox Holt

Check out a tablet that was designed specifically for seniors. igg.me/at/

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FretsAlive

“The appearance of an iPad at the top of this list will surprise no one. ”
It surprised me! I almost stopped reading right then!
I’m glad I continued to read just to see the comments from elders and their use of the Nexus 7. My dad has a Nexus 7. He is 80 years old and NEVER used a computer. I gave it to him even though he said he would never use it. Now, I think he would be lost without it. He talks to it and searches any subject and has become very comfortable with it.
To be fair, my 79 year old mother did not take to it as well. I am in the progress of finding something she can use without too much of a learning curve. She has a pc desktop with a keyboard and mouse. She has extreme arthritus and I am trying to find something with either voice or touch screen. She has a heavy southern accent so good luck with voice recognition! :)

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Lari Numminen

Thanks for the interesting article and also for the comments by seniors!

I’m glad to see Android and Nexus 7 have worked well for you guys. A few months ago I opted to get the Asus FonePad for my grandparents as it is essentially a cheaper than Nexus with a sim card slot.

I got so excited about the challenge of making tablets more accessible to older folks that I got together with a friend and designed a new home screen for seniors. You can download it totally free at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.proto.ui or by just searching for “Zilta.”

If you’ve got any more feedback about what irks you about tablet or smartphone interfaces, please share with us!

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Jamie

I think I might be the intended audience for this piece. My mother is nearly 80. She has lived in a rural area her whole life. I want to help connect her to more news and information, but she has a difficult time with new technologies. I will have to have internet connected to her house (in her area this might involve extra charges to “run new cable”) and I need to provide her with a SIMPLE device that offers her loads of reading options. A Kindle sounds great, but I would love her to have access to some of the more useful android apps. It’s also imperative that I be able to load content for her remotely (e-books and photos, for example). A google account or similar would make that easy for me. I also need the device to connect to the internet flawlessly. The device needs to have a LONG battery life and needs to be very light weight and easy on the eyes. I wish the article had addressed some of these concerns.

Julianne

Jami—your situation sounds exactly like mine. My mom needs something simple! I was looking into getting a children’s tablet like the Nabi 2. The icons are big and the whole thing looks really simple to use. I wrote a comment below and now I’m just waiting for any answers. julianne

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sheri lin

Hello:
My mother was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s today. She does not use a computer. Her doctor recommended Luminosity. I want to buy her a VERY easy to use hand held or laptop with a large screen that she can use to access Luminosity. Using Luminosity will most likely be the only thing she does on the IPad/laptop. I am not concerned with the cost I want to get her something that is light weight and easy to see and use. I greatly appreciate your suggestions. I want to put this in place within the next couple of days while I am visiting her.

Thank you,

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Julianne

What about getting someone a kid tablet instead? Like getting them a Nabi 2? Wouldn’t that make more sense then the more complicated ones above? I’m thinking of getting a table for my mother and the big icons on the kids’ tablets makes sense to someone whose eyesight is not what it used to be. Anyone?

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Westing House

This article is a joke. I came here looking for senior citizen tablets and I find these. LoL. It’s great how we have many senior citizen commenters.

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Gloria Monroe

This article was not that helpful to me. I am a 70 yr old woman who has learned how to use a computer but not computer savvy to all the lingo. I would like to get something smaller but have limited income so would like more info about pros & cons of different priced tablets. How do you know where the best place to buy is? People my age around here are not into computers so I do not have anyone to discuss this with.

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Chi

The article is completely useless, but I love the comments on here, especially about Jerry dual booting the Nook HD+ – awesome! Sorry Ediz, about your stolen Nexus. Android Device Manager came out this year that lets you track your Android devices, just keep GPS enabled on your device. We use this all the time to locate my wife’s phone.

I was contemplating about getting my inlaws the iPad Air, but was afraid that they would just return it and send us a check because they hate it when we buy stuff for them. I actually picked up a Lenovo Yoga 10″ tablet for $149 – super deal. It’s got great user reviews and a 18 hour battery life. It’s being delivered today. I want to load it up with some apps, but don’t know what. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

We bought our kids the Nabi 2s last Christmas. It’s super durable – our kids literally throw it around, but the battery on one of them seems to only last about as half as long as the other. I had to get a new wifi router to get the wireless working, and then the screen puts a lot of strain on your eyes. It’s also a little buggy.

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