ALOHA FROM JENNIE: Linda’s recent blogpost about a computer tablet’s usefulness made me ponder, why wouldn’t every senior want one? Based on the results of a just released Pew Research study, 59% of US adults over age 65 do use the internet, and 47% have access to home high-speed broadband connections. However, while 77% of seniors have a mobile phone, only 18% use a smartphone and 27% have a tablet or e-reader.
I’ve been using an Apple iPad tablet for only the past 18 months, and have found it a bit of a marvel. The operation of any tablet or phone is a partnership between hardware (the body) and software (the brain).
It’s my layperson’s understanding that tablet hardware typically includes a processor chip and memory to run an operating system and software, storage to hold such software programs and data internally on the device, receivers/antennas to connect with wifi or cellular data, a front facing camera, a rear facing camera, speakers/microphone, sensors (gyro, accelerometer and light sensors) and a compass, among other components.
With this hardware on board, your portable smartphone or tablet can, with the appropriate software, act as:
- A computer running word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs (albeit on a small screen usually without keyboard and mouse) and a web browser to view the internet
- A portable digital assistant (remember keeping track of your address book, calendar, and notes using a Palm Pilot?)
- An email client
- An e-book reader (for magazines and newspapers too)
- A video player (goodbye to portable DVD players, hello to streaming movies and TV shows)
- A phone or video conferencing system (remember the futuristic 'Jetsons' cartoon?)
- A voice recorder (dictation or karaoke, anyone?)
- A digital camera (how's Kodak stock doing?)
- A video camcorder
- A scanner (by using the rear camera to capture images)
- A fax machine
- A GPS device
- An audio/MP3 player (does anyone still have a Sony Walkman?)
- A radio (with news, weather, traffic and stock updates available in other formats also)
- A clock with alarms, timer, stopwatch
- A white noise sound machine
- A calculator
- A reference book (dictionary, phone book, encyclopedia)
- A flashlight
- A mirror
- A bar code scanner/QR code reader
- A keyless car or door entry remote
Seeing this list really brings home the versatility of these devices. A lightweight tablet can become a great tool for any individual, especially if one is open minded and customizes the device for functions that are important to its owner. Tablets are also being used more 'out in the wild'; at the end of a restaurant meal the other month, I was presented with a tablet in lieu of a credit card signature clipboard. The screen displayed a set of tip icons with preset choices (15%, 20%, 25% or 'Other Amount') and a block field where you could badly replicate your signature using a fingertip. Have any of you experienced similar encounters?