An older demographic is using new devices including Apple's iPad ($499) and Amazon's Kindle Fire ($199), both tablet computers, like never before, experts say.
Rob Enderle, a technology analyst and principal of the Enderle Group, said tablets like the iPad and Kindle are popular gifts for older adults.
They're easier to use than desktop computers, more portable than laptops and can provide real advantages, Enderle said.
The devices run computer applications, known as "apps." Many apps are free, or cost less than $10. They can be life-changing.
Choose an app only after reading comments posted by other users. Find one that sounds reliable and well recommended.
Apps that seniors use most frequently fall into the following five categories, Enderle said:
Popular card games including solitaire and bridge can be played against a computer or a friend -- someone sitting next to you, or across the country via the Internet. Word games including Scrabble and crossword puzzles also are favorites.
Most devices come with scheduling software installed and many companies sell more sophisticated scheduling programs. Scheduling on a device makes it simple, straightforward and easy to add and keep appointments. You can even invite friends or loved ones simply by punching in their email address.
Sorting through and keeping track of multiple medications can be overwhelming. There are dozens of apps that can help. The most basic function is that the apps deliver a reminder when doses are due. More sophisticated apps can track your overall health, deliver reports to your doctor and help you refill prescriptions when needed.
Apps can do much more than just send email. FaceTime, a popular app available on the iPad, is like something out of a futuristic sci-fi film. FaceTime uses the iPad's camera to connect with friends and family to see and talk as if you were on television. It's a great way to check in on grandchildren, wish them well, or even read a story.
These are devices that can store entire libraries of books. There are less expensive e-readers than the iPad or Kindle Fire, sure. The advantage to the Kindle Fire and iPad is that both are backlit, making it easier for some people to see in dimly lit settings including an airplane or bedroom. The text can be enlarged, so some people can read without their glasses.
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