Saturday, July 14, 2012

Finally, a (Handy) Computer for Seniors

Coming out this month is a new wonder from Google, the Nexus 7.   
This 7” eReader/tablet addresses many senior wants and needs. The same size and shape as the Kindle Fire, the Nexus adds a newer major operating system update with slick and fast touch controls.     The device now includes mike, Bluetooth for external headphones, GPS, and a host of new easily installed applications called apps.
Google introduced the “Android” system for smartphones and gave it to the public free.     Amazon then used it last fall for the Kindle Fire and its proprietary library of books and apps.  Meanwhile Android has been broadly improved.  Since then there have been two subsequent new generations of this device, introduced by others.
Amazon’s vision was to get its device the right size.   The right size is that of a typical book, as proved over 400 years.   On this website, a few years ago, I wrote:   “The future senior computer would be a tried and true shape: a book.     .The size and shape of a book has proved itself practical over centuries.”    However, the Fire was limited as mainly an eBook reader.     Google then set out to make the most of its lookalike device’s potential as a computer.   That potential is vast.
The result is the Google Nexus, a wonder indeed, a block buster, especially for seniors.
(I will have a posting about making the most of your Kindle Fire, also an exhaustive posting on the basic apps you need to get full use out of it and its successors---I could not find one on the internet.)
What is the most important need of seniors?  The answer is “keeping connected”: email, reading, phoning, and much more.
These functions are greatly aided by voice input, reading text out loud, enlarged print, and something new from Google called Now, which anticipates your needs your concerns and needs with reminders.
The small electronic book-computer easily goes along with you.   More than that, it does not tie you to a desk.  It works nicely in a chair or in bed, or traveling.
It is right for waiting, sitting with someone, riding in a car or  bus, wherever you need it.   You do need to go to it and accommodate yourself to it.    It accommodates to you.
All this finally in the right size.
Keeping connected also means to the radio, audio books, and recorded TV.     All these require apps, almost all free.   On this device most can be installed with a few taps.
Radio and TV programs and other media are usually available when you want them, as well as music, such as to accompany exercise.
There are, movies, too, along with TV.   Separate apps help find scheduled programs..   Some send video to TV with a separate box.   TIVO now is about to introduce a box to send your TV it.
The Google books library is exhaustive and a delight to use.   Additionally, this device will run the Calibre Manager app to find books most easily, as described in my posting on how to find books..
The Android operating system grew up from smartphones, which need to be quickly and easily used and reliable.
Gone are viruses and virus updates.  Also gone are the complexities of Windows.   Here the user is  in control.
Gone are the cables, the cryptic error massages, the interruptions of computers of the past and up to recently.
Android is a lightweight system which even runs fast on my old obsolete EEE PC, one of the first notebooks.  I have never had an error with it.
Android was developed from Bell Labs’ Unix, proved over the years.
When you get your Nexus, make sure you get a case which protects but does not interfere with it.
You do need WiFi.  Here at Willow Valley we have WiFi in the public places.
If you do much writing you may need an external keyboard and a case which props it up,, or just use your old computer for writing.
Apple will have its version out this fall, based on the iPad.  The iPad, of course, is bigger and less portable, but very appealing and capable.
The Nexus costs just $200.