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)
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.
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)
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)
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
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.
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