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87-Year Old Wants First Computer
I'm thinking a tablet
jimbeetle

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 2:56 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

An 87-year old friend has decided she wants her first computer. My first thought is to recommend a tablet, but having no experience with them I'm a bit lost.

She basically needs, well, the basics: email, web, ebooks (with a strong dictionary function).

She does not have an Internet connection so am I right in assuming she would have to go with some flavor of Kindle?

Oh, and she has absolutely no experience with PCs so interface must be very intuitive.

Any recommendations are much appreciated.

 

engine

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 5:13 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would think that a tablet computer for web browsing/email/reader would be the easiest solution. There's minimal setup and the touch interface is intuitive.

Obviously, without a net connection, the cost of browsing may be higher if using a cellular connection.

A net connection and WiFi is probably the lowest cost options. I guess, a cheaper options is to use a coffee-shop free WiFi.

There are so many tablets on the market these days, with Amazon, Apple, now Microsoft, amongst others, offering products. There are many 'clones' with Android-based OS and these are much cheaper than the brands. I guess you get what you pay for.

If it's someone's first computer, a tablet is a great start.

Oh, btw, printing from a tablet computer can be a pain, so make sure they don't need to print.

buckworks

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 5:29 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

At that age, something to consider is her visual acuity.

Make sure that the models you're considering allow her to expand the text if needed.

My uncle who is 90 bought the biggest Mac screen available last year, because it could make the print bigger and was easier to read than what he had previously.

lucy24

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 6:08 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

The touch interface is NOT intuitive. People think it is because they've been using iPods and cell phones and so on for years, so they've got it internalized. When I was given an iPad I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do, and being told that I already knew what to do was no help at all. And, unlike a full-sized computer, you don't get help from cat stepping on keyboard leading to discovery of unsuspected keyboard shortcuts. (This is really true.)

Get her a laptop that she can curl up with. Nice big screen that can be set to resolution and interface of choice in a variety of ways according to the need of the hour.

My mother recently said that she has trouble sending e-mail because she can no longer control the mouse perfectly. I advised her to look into, or rather ask her husband* to look into, the computer's alternative accessibility settings. (I, ahem, assume there is such a thing on That Other Platform. I've got zillions of 'em. Counting the ones activated by cat without my knowledge or consent.) She is not the kind of person who explores a computer's settings to see what it can do.


* This detail comes from past experience (a) trying to explain things directly and (b) being in a car when she is driving. It is not intended as a universal observation on gender.

engine

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 6:35 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

The touch interface is NOT intuitive. People think it is because they've been using iPods and cell phones and so on for years, so they've got it internalized. When I was given an iPad I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do, and being told that I already knew what to do was no help at all.


It's interesting you should say that. My wife, a committed technophobe, found it much easier to just touch an icon and see how the program ran. She's never owned a touchscreen-based product previously.

Since I bought her a tablet computer she's hardly put the thing down. She does ask me about settings, but she's more than happy with the touchscreen interface.

I'd agree with buckworks about the screen readability, but that applies to any screen.

jimbeetle

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 8:21 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks, folks. The vision thing is going to the top of the list.

I was a bit confused above when I mentioned Kindle and an Internet connection so just disregard that. She'll most likely have to get an Internet connection no matter what.

lucy24, at first I didn't think so, but now looking around a couple of the ultrabooks might not be bad choices. Something like the Lenovo IdeaPad with a 13" screen.

piatkow

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 9:46 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)


The touch interface is NOT intuitive

No interface is intuitive it requires on a degree of acculturation.

When my mother, of a similar age, acquired her first DVD player the concept of scrolling through options was totally alien.

graeme_p

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 6:29 am on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

@piatkow, right! Its very easy for us to think the interfaces we are used to are the most intuitive, but none are easy for someone who is exposed to it for the first time.

A tablet is probably simplest. Get one with a big, high quality screen. I read ebooks on my Android tablet, but other people find Ebook readers with e-ink screens more comfortable. On the other hand an Android tablet can be used to read Kindle books (with the Kindle App) and epub books, and Adobe DRMd books etc.

Also, consider how prone she may be to mess things up - even inadvertently. I found that switching my father (a decade younger than your friend) to Linux reduced the number of support calls I got, and switching him from KDE to Ubuntu Unity was even better. The latter is interesting, because the reason it works for him is exactly the reason geeks Unity: it is inflexible, so he cannot accidentally re-arrange it and then complain of lost icons etc.

graeme_p

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 7:58 am on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

The only adult I have seen using a mouse for the first time found it difficult.

Also, as compromise between tablets and laptops, what about Chromebooks, and Android netbooks? Cheap, simple and hard to mess up.

BeeDeeDubbleU

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 8:30 am on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google "Doro Experience". This is designed specifically for this.

jimbeetle

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 2:34 pm on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think the first option is going to be to check out the iPad. I'm going to have my better half take our friend over to the Apple store to see what's what. At the least she can get touchy feely with one to see if we're on the right track or not. At best, she'll like it, and as the Apple store is only two blocks from her apartment I won't have to play tech support.

Next up will be some flavor of Android device. That Doro Experience is interesting; might be a bit too restictive, have to dig deeper into it.

Thanks

johnhh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 11:29 pm on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a good friend who lives overseas, gave his mother an ipad so he could use skype to check up on her, 'grannycam' as it's called here. Never used a computer before, over 86 years old. Sometimes he has to telephone first to remind her what to do - otherwise no problem.

vik_c

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 3:44 am on Nov 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Get a PC. If something goes wrong you can open the thing up and fix it. That isn't possible with Macs and tablets. Besides, tablets need charging everyday. Macros can make your life easier on PCs. Map hot keys to frequently performed actions. Considering her age, she will probably be using a limited number of programs. All of these can be configured with hot keys. CTRL+F1 to access the internet and fire up the browser, CTRL +F2 to start video-conferencing etc. These hot keys can be noted down in a diary to make life even easier.

bhonda

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 10:07 am on Nov 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

CTRL+F1 to access the internet and fire up the browser

I would imagine that someone of a mature age would find pressing two keys simultaneously, even with sticky keys enabled, much harder (physically, and maybe conceptually) that just tapping an icon with their finger.

Not owning a tablet, I can't say for sure, but I would guess that's the way to go for this situation.

jimbeetle

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 5:54 pm on Nov 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Get a PC. If something goes wrong you can open the thing up and fix it.

No way. I've stopped building my own boxes 'cause I'm tired of talking to myself when I call tech support. And one of the major things she wants to do is read ebooks and sitting in front of a PC doing so is not my idea of fun.

And I'm not anticipating any problems. Well, maybe one: the lead time for this "project." This is the type of lady where it takes at least a month before a dinner date can be set as she always has a very full calendar. I would be very surprised if we can get anything done before the first of the year.

piatkow

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 10:36 am on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am not up to speed with this technology but I would agree with graeme_p about using something where the screen layout cannot be altered. My experience with people of that age is that they don't relate to icons and will expect the top left hand one (for example) to always do the same thing regardless of what little picture is there.

vik_c

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 3:23 pm on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

And one of the major things she wants to do is read ebooks and sitting in front of a PC doing so is not my idea of fun

Why would someone in their 80s want to read ebooks? Wouldn't it be simpler and less stressful to print them out?

jimbeetle

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 6:43 pm on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why would it be stressful for her to read an ebook on a tablet?

Old_Honky

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 1:48 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am surprised at the "ageist" tone I perceive in some of the posts e.g.
Considering her age, she will probably be using a limited number of programs.

My experience with people of that age is that they don't relate to icons and will expect the top left hand one (for example) to always do the same thing regardless of what little picture is there.

I would imagine that someone of a mature age would find pressing two keys simultaneously, even with sticky keys enabled, much harder (physically, and maybe conceptually) that just tapping an icon with their finger
.
I realise you are trying to be helpful but it comes across as a little patronising. In my experience older people pick up new things just as easily as youngsters, they usually have a longer attention span and are prepared to work at something until they get it.

vik_c

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 3:08 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why would it be stressful for her to read an ebook on a tablet?

It's more of a strain on the eyes. Almost everyone at that age has reading glasses. I'm aware of all the claims of technology that tablet companies including Apple make but paper books are easier on the eyes if you're reading a lot.

I realise you are trying to be helpful but it comes across as a little patronising. In my experience older people pick up new things just as easily as youngsters, they usually have a longer attention span and are prepared to work at something until they get it.

Ironically I think we're being realistic and you're being patronizing. There are a lot of older people in their eighties who have trouble even using cellphones. Mental facilities peak and then dull as we grow older. There's no reason to be in denial. It'll happen to all of us if we live to be that old.

buckworks

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 3:52 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can't enlarge the print on a paper book.

GaryK

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 4:26 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

There's always audiobooks.

graeme_p

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 4:26 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The print on paperbooks does not need to be as large as it is MUCH higher quality than an LCD, or even e-paper.

You can enlarge the print on a paper books (magnifying glasses or large print editions) and people do.

In spite of that, yes, being able to zoom in and out is an advantage of ebooks. So is being able to change colours.

piatkow

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4520382 posted 10:09 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)


I am surprised at the "ageist" tone I perceive in some of the posts e.g.

Nope, on my part just observation. Its nothing to do with age, as I stated before its to do with aculturation. There is a generation of people out there who have never needed to deal with on screen interfaces or icons. My observations were not only from people of that generation now, in their late 80s but also way back when they were much younger than I am now.

Essex_boy

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 12:52 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Becarful ! I gave my parent their computer about 10 years ago, im constantly around their house attempted to fix 'problems' with the internet (!).

Printer doesnt work - Disconnected
Router not working - Come comes ? I hit it to make it go faster (My father)

And after all this time he still cant understand that ANY search engine can find his banks website.... Internet exp isnt the internet. GRRRR !

not2easy

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 9:03 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The iPad would be my choice, it includes a free Kindle for Mac that is one of the few intuitive readers that does what you want. The text can be enlarged to any level and the backlit brightness is adjustable, the B&W contrast controls accommodate nearly infinite grey levels.

I would not put a PC in the hands of a newb of any age without training. Too many pitfalls on the internet to expect safe surfing without knowing the proper settings and security for anyone. I used PCs for about 20 years before going back to Mac. I still use both. The idea that you can't open and service a Mac yourself is just not true. I replaced a hard drive in my IMac and I'm a retired lady. I helped my guy replace the drive in his Macbook Pro, too. Having the Apple Store so nearby would cinch it for me if I were making the recommendation.

jimbeetle

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 9:28 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I appreciate everybody's concerns, but as I said above, I'm not expecting too many problems.

As for those wondering why she wants a machine to read ebooks, it turns out to be what I suspected. Most Manhattan apartments are on the small side and she's basically running out of room. I can sympathize as I have to rent a storage unit 20 blocks away to store, among other things, a lifetimes worth of books.

incrediBILL

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 10:06 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've known several people that got started with computers at 75+ and did well with them.

I'd recommend you sign her up for an adult education class at the senior center for computers so she can learn the basics and then take her on a trip to Best Buy or some similar place to find a large selection to touch and feel, see what she likes.

Then, depending on what it is, I'd buy it from Costco to get a full 2 year warranty just in case it breaks so they'll replace it for no cost.

The touch interface is NOT intuitive.


That explains why babies under 12 months old are able to operate iPads.

FWIW I got my mom, who has serious eye problems, a 24" screen and cranked it up to 120dpi with large fonts and some other accessibility settings and it seems to work well for her.

a lifetimes worth of books.


Had that problem once upon a time and a house fire in the 90s wiped out a big chunk of it, along with a bunch of computers, and then a few years back I decided to toss everything (not just books) I hadn't used in 5 years and now the house and storage unit are cleaned out.

lucy24

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 5:15 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

That explains why babies under 12 months old are able to operate iPads

Babies under 12 months are also able to program your VCR to overwrite the Stanley Cup finals with six hours of that boring guy who reads the Bible straight through the night. They're probably not a good role model for 87-year-olds.

GaryK

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Msg#: 4520382 posted 5:36 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

My 91-year old father finds it much easier to use a laptop simply because it has a physical keyboard; he knows how to type on his antiquated IBM Selectric II.

Tonight when I was there he was able to navigate through my latest FB photos using my laptop. But whenever I let him use my phone or tablet he inevitably winds up touching something accidentally and then needs me to "fix" it for him.

I'm not suggesting older folks are incapable of adapting to new situations, but they seem to relate best to things they're somewhat familiar with like a physical keyboard because they have something familiar to compare it to.

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