As an adult child of a technology challenged parent, grandparent, senior uncle or aunt this was a question I was asked more times than I can count.
THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”
In the “good old days” (prior to 2010) of personal computing the Senior was asking if they should they buy a new desktop or laptop. The standard answer in those days was to recommend what we used (Windows or Mac) and brand (probably HP, Dell, Gateway or Apple.) After all if you were happy with what you were using then they should be happy – right? Plus you KNEW that you were going to have to provide tech support for whatever you recommended – right?
THE “BETTER NEW DAYS”
Today (2016) we have many more options than ever. Smartphones, e-Readers, tablets, smart watches – and of course old style “iron” like desktops and laptops are still available, but are catching dust at your local Best Buy store. Certainly devices like smartphones and tablets are more portable (mobile) then moving around a desktop computer and monitor or a 4 to 6 pound laptop (yes I know you can buy under 2 pound laptops.)
DISCLAIMER: WHY TRUST MY OPINION?
I’m a little unique as a computer consultant – first I’ll be 70 years “young” in just a few months. Second, I’ve been messing with PC’s and mobile devices since 1978 (perhaps before you were born.) I’ve spend thousands on PC’s, Mac’s – plus Newtons, Palm Pilots, iPods, and dozens of other mobile devices. I’ve taught mobile computing classes during my corporate life, community Ed, consulting, and as a “Nook” trainer at two Barnes & Noble stores.
For the last few years I’ve become an Apple “fanboy.” The deeper I’ve jumped into the Apple “pond” the more sense it’s made to me. Yes, Apple products are probably more expensive but … the quality design, construction, store service and depth of support from the Apple ecosystem is IMHO superior to PC’s and Droid’s.
SO BACK ON POINT: WHAT SHOULD I BUY?
If you want to make your mom, dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Betty or Uncle Fred happy; and quite frankly off your back for support? Here are my recommendations:
- Device: An Apple iPad Air 2 (click here: Apple iPad Air 2) or later. The iPad mini (the Baby Bear) is too small for most Seniors to use and read comfortably on. The iPad Pro (the Father Bear) is too large to hold comfortably on a couch or in bed (not “huggable”). The “standard” iPad Air 2 (the Mother Bear) is JUST right in terms of size (like holding a book or magazine) and weight (less than one pound.) It’s “very huggable” just the right size to read on the couch, the plane, and in-bed. The ultra-high resolution Retina screen is extremely sharp and clear. Very easy for Senior eyes to read articles, books, magazines on. DON’T be tempted to buy the 16GB model – both of you will be unhappy when your favorite Senior calls you late one evening and states… “My iPad says I don’t have any more room to store my photos?” Buy the 64GB WiFi or WiFi/Cellular model. It is well worth the difference in price. Also pay for the Apple Care Plus warranty program that even covers breakage (stuff happens!)
- System Software: There simply is no better mobile operating system available today than Apple’s IOS. It is secure, fast, reliable, mature, robust and very easy-to-use. Annual upgrades and frequent minor upgrades (both FREE) provide a device that is trouble free and also provides a few years of “future proofing.”
- App’s: The Apple App Store provides millions of low cost or free software apps. If you look at what most Seniors want to use a “computer” for it is the following: eMail, photos, web surfing, games, Facebook, reading books/magazines, and listening to music or watching a movie – all can be found on included software or on the App Store.
- Additional Hardware: Your Senior is going to want a keyboard and a cover/case for that new iPad Air 2. After trying many different brands the one that I would recommend is the Logictech Type+ keyboard case (click here: Logictech Type+). This keyboard is very sturdy, easy-to-type on, and gives good protection to the iPad Air 2. If your Senior needs a new printer then most any HP “e-print” ink-jet printer will work well. This printer will work with Apple’s “Air Print” feature on the iPad Air 2 for truly wireless, no configuration printing. A good place to start is the HP Deskjet 2540 All-In-One which provides printing, scanning, and copying for a street price of around $75-$80 (click here: HP Deskjet 2540 AIO)
- Family Sharing: One of the best reasons for buying an Apple device is Family Sharing. This allows your extended family member to legally share movies, books, music and apps with the rest of your Family at little or no additional cost for almost everything. Learn more here: (click here: Apple Family Sharing) Just remember that all charges for media come to your credit card! (They will pay you back I’m sure!).
- Combine with an iPhone: Plus, if your Senior is in the market for a new cell phone, then almost everything above also works with a new iPhone. Thanks to Apple’s iCloud service calendars, emails, to-do reminders, photos, music, backups just works and “syncs” to one another. No double entry!
- Training: There are dozens of options for Seniors to learn how to use their new iPad Air 2. Apple Stores provide one on one and small group classes. Many community Adult Ed and Senior Centers provides classes. There are MANY 3rd party “How To” books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Pick paper books (not electronic books) and look for ones with lots of pictures (not lots of text) and may be titled “iPad Air 2 for Seniors” or one of the “Dummies” series books. Check the published date (inside a few pages) and make sure it is less than two years old.
Finally: Who is going to provide support?
The natural and normal response is YOU. I mean they ARE your parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle – correct? Well yes, and you probably should. But the best thing about buying an Apple product is that it comes with Apple Support. USA based, and FREE – two magic words for Seniors. They can go into any Apple Store (regardless of where you bought the iPad Air 2) and get help. They can also call, “chat” or e-mail with Apple hardware and software support. For more information (click here: Apple Support).
Wrapping it up
Save yourself hours of time, effort, grief, anxiety and more! NO they don’t need a new desktop or laptop! They need YOU and a new iPad Air 2 that becomes their new “laptop.” Good luck and happy Senior computing.
Comments, and questions are always welcome. We appreciate you sharing this blog post with others. Print it out and give it to your “Senior” family members.
Tom Gordon – the iTechGeezer