Jim Miller, an advocate for older Americans, writes “Savvy Senior,” a weekly information column syndicated in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. Based in Norman, Oklahoma, he also offers a free senior e-news service at SavvySenior.org.
For seniors and other people who want a home computer that is easier to use than most models available today, there are several user-friendly machines designed specifically for you. These computers provide simplified and senior-friendly software applications…extra-large keys and type…and a range of customer-assistance plans.
The very best options now…
By simply touching the clearly labeled on-screen option of your choice with your finger (you don’t need a mouse to navigate), you can get instant access to the Web, e-mail, games, video chat, photo sharing, news, weather and more.
The Telikin desktop computer is available in two sizes—an 18.6-inch LCD touch-screen with a 320-gigabyte hard drive that costs $699…and a 20-inch LCD touch-screen with 500 gigabytes (useful to store lots of videos and pictures) for $999. All Telikin computers come with built-in speakers, a Web camera, microphone, keyboard and mouse. They also offer a unique “tech buddy” (remote access) feature that allows a designated friend or family member to access your Telikin from his/her computer, so that he can help guide you through any questions or problems that you might have.
Running on the Linux operating system instead of Windows or Mac OS, the Telikin is more virus-resistant than standard computers and comes with a 60-day trial period, a one-year warranty and free customer support for the first 30 days ($9.95 per month afterward). 800-230-3881, www.Telikin.com.
Note: Telikin has a partnership with firstSTREET (800-704-1209, www.FirstStreetOnline.com), a direct marketing company specializing in products for seniors, which also is selling the 20-inch Telikin for $999 but has rebranded it as the “WOW! Computer for Seniors.”
HP SeniorPC is a brand of Hewlett-Packard computer that comes completely set up and ready to use right out of the box—no need to configure software settings to get it going. It comes equipped with software called OnTimeRx that can remind users to take medications and keep appointments. The desktop version includes a mouse, a 17-inch monitor and speakers. It also includes the Keys-U-See keyboard, a high-contrast keyboard with bright yellow large keys on a black background and one-touch Internet and media control buttons. Both the desktop and laptop versions come with a color printer. 888-640-1999, www.EnableMart.com.
There are several models…
For ease of use and speech controls, the Autopilot desktop computer offers speech-to-text capabilities that let you write letters, e-mails and documents by speaking into the computer’s microphone (sold separately)…and text-to-speech capabilities that will read e-mails, documents and Web pages to you aloud. The PC costs $1,125. EnableMart also offers an Autopilot computer in a laptop edition for $1,165.
For those with impaired vision, there is the Vision Plus model. It comes preconfigured with screen-magnification software, a high-visibility Keys-U-See keyboard (for the desktop model) and an all-in-one printer/scanner for scanning in books, e-mail and other reading materials to be magnified. $1,255 for the Vision Plus desktop or $1,895 for the laptop version.
While the iPad 2 tablet computer is not designed specifically for seniors, its simple iOS operating system makes it easy to understand and use. The 9.7-inch screen has such high resolution that it is great for aging eyes, and its thin (0.34 inches) and lightweight (1.35 lb.) design makes it easy to hold and convenient to carry. And everything is done simply by touching the screen—there’s no mouse or external keyboard.
All Apple iPads come with an array of built-in accessibility tools (see www.Apple.com/accessibility) that can help seniors with vision and/or hearing impairments. Apple includes a one-year warranty and phone technical support for the first 90 days. Prices range from $499 to $829 (for models that come with 3G connectivity). 800-692-7753, www.Apple.com