By Claire Samuels
January 27, 2021
Courtesy of A Place For Mom
From video calls to photo sharing, we’ve embraced technology as a way to bridge gaps between loved ones. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, seniors have relied on smart phones, tablets, and computers more than ever to connect with friends and family.
Tablet apps provide entertainment like music and movie streaming,while games and e-books offer mental stimulation. From new, tech-forward releases, to basic models designed with seniors in mind, A Place for Mom chose these tablets for their strong features, user-friendly interfaces, and accessibility. Check out our top tablets for seniors, discover inexpensive options, and find tips on how to choose the best device for your aging loved one. Best tablets for seniors overall: features and cost A Place for Mom chose these tablets for elderly relatives based on research, statistics, features, and thousands of online reviews.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Features: The Fire is fairly large, weighing more than one pound with a striking 10-inch HD display. This means clear visuals, as well as a solid, durable build. The glass screen is ideal for watching movies and reading e-books, especially with a high-contrast text setting and text size adjustment. The built-in camera captures photos and offers high-quality video calls through apps like Zoom and Skype. Loud dual speakers amplify music, as well as chats with family and friends. Why it’s good for seniors: Equipped with Alexa, the Fire HD 10 can be used hands-free with voice commands and combined with other Alexa-controlled smart devices, like thermostats, lights, and doorbell cameras. When it’s attached to the charging dock, seniors can use show mode, which offers highlights like weather, news bulletins, or popular clips. Navigation and settings are simple and easy to access from the home screen. Cost: The Fire HD 10 tablet is available from Amazon for $149.99. Be on the lookout for sales — Amazon occasionally offers major discounts on tablets and other devices.
Microsoft Surface Go
Features: As a two-in-one tablet/laptop, the Surface Go can be attached to a light, portable keyboard or used alone as a 10.5-inch touchscreen. It works with LTE, which means seniors don’t need a Wi-Fi connection to stream movies, play games, or video chat with friends and family. Front- and rear-facing HD cameras enhance calls and capture memories. Why it’s good for seniors: Cortana voice assistant makes searching for apps, documents, and features easier. Plus, older adults may already be used to the Windows 10 operating system, or find it intuitive based on the computers they’ve used in the past. The traditional keyboard makes it easier to compose emails, write to-do lists, or journal, yet the Surface Go takes up less space than a traditional laptop. Also, it offers a variety of display settings to combat eye strain, as well as a custom screen magnifier. Cost: The Surface Go 2, complete with the features listed above, starts from $399.99 from Microsoft, with accessories like smart pens available. However, if you’re comfortable with a slightly older model, the first-generation Surface Go offers many of the same contemporary features at a lower price point.
Consumer Cellular GrandPad
Features: This video and audio calling device also streams music, plays videos, and has a wide selection of games. It’s durable, with a soft case and stylus, and comes with a charging dock station to eliminate the need for wires and cords. Why it’s good for seniors: The GrandPad is designed specifically with elderly adults in mind. The interface is accessible and easy to learn with clear, bright icons, and it lets your loved one enjoy all the benefits of technology with none of the effort. Made for tech-averse seniors, it even comes loaded with training videos and tutorials. While the GrandPad does have pre-loaded games, a video chat platform, and streaming, it can’t access a full app store or many of the features higher-tech tablets offer. Cost: The GrandPad is available through Consumer Cellular for $200. Unlimited phone service and support come to $40 a month, which includes music streaming, stimulating daily brain games designed for seniors, and curated articles.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Features: Weighing in at less than one pound with an 8-inch screen, the Galaxy Tab A is portable and light. Front- and rear-facing cameras allow seniors to record videos and take high-quality photos, as well as Skype or Zoom with family and friends. A 13-hour battery life means your aging relative won’t have to worry about finding an outlet while streaming movies on the high-resolution screen. Why it’s good for seniors: Samsung tablets have an optional “easy mode” to simplify user experience and help tech-averse seniors learn to operate the device. It’s also highly adjustable, with controlled text size, contrast, and magnifying features. Unlike some devices, the Samsung Galaxy has full access to the Google Play app store, meaning you can download any apps your relative would enjoy — and processing speeds allow the device to run up to six apps simultaneously without slowing down. Cost: The Samsung Galaxy Tab Avaries in cost by model, and may come at a discount if purchased with a data plan. The base model is currently available online for $149.99.
Apple iPad 10.2
Features: Apple products were created to be user-friendly, and the iPad remains streamlined and easy to use despite sophisticated features and applications. Stereo-style speakers reach high volumes without becoming distorted or tinny, and a large HD retina display has high pixel density for the visually impaired. A compatible stylus allows seniors to take notes by hand and save or send them as text — perfect for someone who prefers pen and paper to a keyboard. Why it’s good for seniors: Facial recognition eliminates the need to remember a password, and Siri voice assistant can open apps and follow basic verbal commands. Also, the Apple Health app includes a medical ID with personal history in case of emergency. Cost: The Apple iPad 10.2 is surprisingly affordable for its capabilities and features, starting at $329. It’s less expensive than most iPads on the market, and a solid starting point for seniors who aren’t ready to commit to a $400+ purchase.
The Amazon Echo Show 8 The second generation Echo Show offers wireless video calling and is compatible with Zoom, as well as Skype. With a high-definition smart display, it can stream videos, play audiobooks, and even read a recipe as you cook. It can also act as a control center for other smart devices throughout the home, including locks, thermostats, and lights. Why it’s easy: The Echo Show 8 is ideal for aging adults who aren’t interested in learning a new interface and don’t need something handheld or portable. Seniors can address Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, and use voice commands to access features without any buttons or pass codes. Cost: The second generation Echo Show is available from Amazon for $129. A third generation release is expected in summer 2021, and is slated to cost $249.
Best reading tablet for elderly bookworms: The Barnes and Noble NOOK It’s not surprising that our top reading tablet for seniors was designed by a bookstore. The NOOK is less versatile than other tablets on this list — it doesn’t have a camera or offer video streaming, but it does offer unique features for avid readers. Why it’s good for seniors who read: The NOOK’s screen gives a “paper-like” reading experience, which means no shiny, scratch-prone surface. Physical page turning buttons allow users to navigate as if flipping through a novel rather than scrolling. Unlike a paperback, the NOOK boasts adjustable text size and GlowLight technology, which alters screen brightness in response to ambient light. Cost: The NOOK GlowLight collection ranges from $119 to $199, depending on storage capacity and size.
Cheapest tablets for seniors
If affordability is your No. 1 concern, check out these cheap and simple tablets for seniors.
Amazon Fire 7 – The Fire 7 is durable, inexpensive, and useful for everyday tasks like shopping, watching videos, and reading on the Kindle app. Its low price point sacrifices the HD screen and fast download speeds featured on more expensive Amazon devices.Cost: The 2019 Amazon Fire 7 costs $49.99.
Lenovo Smart Tab M8 – Thin, lightweight, and easy-to-hold, this 8-inch tablet is easy to tote in place of a book or camera. At home, it can be docked into a desktop station for charging or used with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, which can be purchased separately. Combined with its docking station, the M8 offers Google Assistant, so your loved one can dial your phone number, start an audiobook, or play their favorite songs from across the room.Cost: The Smart Tab M8 with Google Assistant starts at $89.99 from Lenovo.
Walmart onn. tablet – The onn. tablet has an 8-inch display with a durable plastic screen and backing. A microSD slot allows for added storage, and you can download apps and games from the Android store. A single speaker and lower-quality camera are tradeoffs for the cost.Cost: The 8” tablet costs $69.00 at Walmart, with plenty of case options available.
How to choose a tablet for your elderly relative
Ask yourself these questions as you browse tablets for seniors: Is eyesight a concern? Large displays, adjustable text size, screen contrast, and brightness are all features to consider for seniors with vision trouble. For those with greater vision impairment, try a tablet with a voice assistant, or one that offers speech-to-text functionality. Are they looking for ease of use, or all the bells and whistles? Tablets designed specifically for seniors — like the GrandPad — are often lower-tech and easier to use. Others that are voice activated and offer home assistants like Alexa, Google, or Cortana allow older adults to circumnavigate learning the ins-and-outs of a device. But if your loved one is tech-savvy or willing to learn, they’ll likely benefit from a more complex tablet. Will they use the tablet often? If your aging relative prefers their laptop — or a paper book — the tablet may spend most of its time in a drawer. Consider primary uses: Will they tote it while traveling, or keep it on the counter for video chats with the grandkids? Purchase according to the features you think they’ll enjoy most. Do they have trouble with hearing? Many tablets are compatible with hearing aids, meaning seniors can use Bluetooth to connect their existing hearing aids with the tablet’s audio. Others require special adapters. If you’re in doubt, contact your hearing aid provider for advice. Are pictures a priority? If your elderly loved one’s a shutterbug, look for tablets with high-quality cameras and plenty of storage for memories. Can you help set up the tablet for your elderly relative? Some providers can set up an easy-to-use tablet for seniors before shipping it, while others offer instructional videos to help with setup. Or you can guide your loved one through the process to help them find the best settings. How to set up an easy-to-use tablet for seniors Some providers can alter settings before shipping tablets to seniors, while others offer in-store assistance or online instructional videos. If you’re guiding your loved one through the process of setting up an accessible, easy-to-use tablet, check off these steps:
Turn on hearing aid compatibility if needed — you may have to alter Bluetooth settings.
Adjust display and text size in accessibility settings.
Turn on magnify and zoom features, if available.
Set up face or fingerprint recognition for easy log-in, if available.
Show your elderly relative how to charge the tablet, whether it’s via cord or docking station.
Make a “cheat sheet” for commonly used apps — for instance, steps on how to place a Zoom call or how to access Facebook.
Turn on “easy mode,” or download a launcher app designed to mimic a senior-friendly tablet.
By Claire Samuels
Originally appeared in A Place For Mom