2018-05-23 / Seniors

Simple Video Calling Devices For Tech-Challenged Seniors

Dear Savvy Senior,

Are there any senior-friendly devices that you can recommend for video calling? I live about a day’s drive from my 83-year-old father and would like to see him more often but he doesn’t use a computer, tablet or a smartphone.

Searching Susan

Dear Susan,

Video chatting is a great way to stay connected and keep tabs on an elder parent when you can’t be there. To help you and your dad achieve this, there are various products on the market today that offer simple video calling for seniors who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with technology. Here are three unique devices to consider.

ViewClix

If you’re interested in a device that requires no input from your dad, check out the ViewClix Smart Frame. This is a 15-inch digital picture frame with video calling capabilities designed specifically for seniors.

Ready to use right out of the box, this device lets family and friends make video calls and send photos (displayed as a slideshow) directly to your dad’s ViewClix Smart Frame anytime from their smartphone, tablet or computer. To do this, you simply download the free ViewClix app to your devices.

All photos sent and video calls made to your dad’s ViewClix are received automatically. But, it is worth noting that this is a receiving device only. Your dad cannot initiate video calls from his ViewClix.

This device is available at ViewClix.com or 800-304-4281 for $299 (Wi-Fi is required), or you can purchase their 4G Broadband model that works with T-Mobile if Wi-Fi is not available for $299, plus a $20 monthly broadband fee.

GrandPad

Another nifty product that offers simple video calling, and much more, is the grandPad. This is an 8-inch touchscreen custom tablet designed for seniors, ages 75 and older. It comes with a stylus, charging stand and Verizon 4G LTE built-in so it works anywhere within the Verizon network—home Wi-Fi is not necessary.

This unique tablet provides a simplified menu of big colorful icons and large text to only essential features, giving your dad clutter free, one-touch access to make and receive video calls and phone calls, send voice emails, view photos and videos, listen to personalized music, check the weather, play games and more. But, to simplify usage and avoid confusion, it does not offer Web browsing.

GrandPad also has a “Help” button that offers 24/7 phone/tablet remote assistance to help your dad with any facet of his tablet, and it provides damage and theft insurance so if your dad breaks or loses his tablet it will be replaced at no additional cost. Available at grandPad.net (or call 800-704-9412), a grandPad leases for $66 per month, or $49/month if you pay one year in advance.

Echo Show

If you don’t think your dad would mind talking to a machine, the voice activated Amazon Echo Show is another senior-friendly device for video chatting (Wi-Fi is required).

Available at Amazon.com for $230, the Echo Show has a 7-inch color touchscreen that would let your dad make and receive video calls to those who have their own device, or who have the free Amazon Alexa app installed on their smartphone or tablet.

Once you set up his contacts, to make a call your dad would simply say, “Alexa, call Susan.” And when a call comes in, he would ask Alexa to answer or ignore the call. There’s also a feature called “drop-in,” which could allow you and other preselected relatives or friends to video in to your dad’s device at any time without his input.

The Echo Show also offers a bevy of other features your dad might enjoy like voice-activated access to news, weather, his favorite music and more.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

The Gazette does not endorse the contents of The Savvy Senior. Check with professionals about the contents of this column.

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