Don’t get me wrong here. Normal computers are still the best option – healthwise, pricewise and from upgradability point of view – for older people provided there is a very good workstation available with good chair and lighting support. However, the tablet PC trend is catching up so fast and they make case for the elderly as well because of the following advantages that they offer.
Tablet PC’s benefits and suitability
Tablet PCs are very lightweight and hence it is so easy for the old people to carry them around. Hence from the mobility point of view they are the best.
Laptops or netbooks can be bigger, heavier and unwieldy and not as comfortable as a tablet to use on a couch or breakfast table.
Tablets are totally wireless in the most literal sense and hence very easy for the old people to handle them. Other options are not totally wirefree yet.
Ease of use due to touch screen is another major benefit and hence it can be used even by people with partial disabilities.
Finally, one doesn’t need to be technically strong to use modern tablet PCs and probably they are much easier to use than many smart phones.
However, please note that PC Tablets are mainly content consumption devices rather than content creation stations. This simply means that, if you want to type in a lot of text, it may not be the right device for you.
Best Tablets for the Elderly
Having talked about the benefits of tablet PCs for older people, here are some of the best tablet PC options for the old people (as of 10th August 2012).
1. Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle Fire is the latest entrant into the tablet market and probably the first of its kind from Amazon (who otherwise manufacture some good ebook readers). With its $199 price tag, it has to be one of the cheapest tablet PCs running on the Google Android platform. It has a 7″ screen, has Wi-fi support for connectivity, has USB ports and is extremely light (413 grams or 14.5 ounces) to handle. The battery life is around 8 hours. It supports numerous free and paid add on apps that you can download from the Amazon appstore, needless to mention that it’s an excellent ebook reader too.
This would be my recommended tablet PC for the older people for its crisp multi-touch color display with a good resolution and light weight body. However, this doesn’t come with a camera or 3G connectivity option. So if price is a major concern, this is the tablet for you.
2. Apple iPad 2
An iPad is the best option for those who do not like to know the technical intricacies involved in doing day to day computer usage. If your online activities are restricted to browsing, emailing, capturing pictures, sharing, video chatting, facebook use etc then iPad is the best option for you. iPad cannot render Flash based websites but good enough to watch Youtube online.
iPad 2 boasts great battery life (up to 10 hours), 9.7” screen, very thin body and weighs just 600 grams. Like most of the tablets in the market these days, iPad2 has two cameras as well.
This is my recommendation if you are looking for simplicity and ease of use and can afford to pay $500 upwards with wifi options and based on the memory.
3. Asus Eee Pad Transformer
What if you want to use the hardware keyboard once in a while just like a netbook or latop while being good at the touch screen as well? If that’s a major feature you are looking for then the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is the best option for you. Moreover, this comes at a reasonable price of around $350.
Asues EeePad is an Android operating system based tablet and hence you may have to get used to it a bit initially. The learning curve is not significantly steep though.
Asus Eee Pad weighs just 680 grams and has a dual cameras (5MP on back and 1.2MP on the front for video calls). The screen is slightly bigger than an iPad’s.
It is the tablet for people who don’t want to spend as much as an iPad but are willing to learn a trick or two about Android. Primary reasons to go for an Asus Eee Pad would be the keyboard support though.
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab 4G
Samsung Galaxy Tab is another strong contender which has seen its prices falling after the steep launch price. Like Asus Eee Pad, it is running on Android operating system as well and hence the usability and performance are similar.
The specifications are pretty much the same as the Asus tablet but without a similar hardware keyboard. There are 7” and 10” screen variations available off which the bigger one is priced similar to an iPad.
5. Google Nexus 7
With a beautiful screen, superb performance and a comfortable to handle design, the Nexus 7 (preferably 16GB) is our latest pick amongst the 7-inch tablets available in the market today.
The Nexus 7’s boast a faster processor and an excellent responsive screen. It’s very comfortable to hold for the elderly as it weighs hardly 0.7 lbs (315 grams). At only $200 to $250, the Nexus 7 is a great deal.
The only flip side probably is the lack of expandable storage and HDMI port (and of course no 3G at this price)
Note: All Android based tablet can run flash based websites though with some performance loss.
Picking a tablet for older people at the end is a function of price, mobility (battery life, weight, 3G network) requirements and keyboard preference. If you give similar weightage to all the above requirements, I would recommend the ASUS Eee Pad for your old men. Well, there are many other Android based tablets out there but I am particularly attracted to the Eee Pad for the ease of use with the dock. However, if style, brand image and build quality is added to your requirement, then go for the iPad 2 for the pride factor (if budget is not a concern that is). If you are constrained by budget and can live without a camera and 3G connectivity, then Amazon Kindle Fire is the budget option for you. However, if you are looking for a 7-inch screen tablet, need a basic camera for video calling and you need a fast processor to work from home on Wifi then Google Nexus 7 is my top pick. Within the $250 budget, it is the best tablet that you can buy and a highly responsive screen with a light weight body makes it our best pick for the elderly user (As of August 2012).