I need to find a tablet and a good mobile data plan for my road-trippin' grandmother.
So my grandfather asks me a few months back if I knew what a good tablet would be for my grandmother, who wants to have something to use on their regular road trips. My grandparents are relatively young and highly ambulatory, making regular sojourns between Michigan and Oklahoma, Oklahoma and Texas, and driving around from place to place within whatever state they're in at the time.
Here's basically what I need.
1) She's not the savviest tech user. The simpler, the better. Which also means it needs to be reliable.
2) She needs the tablet for checking Facebook/browsing the Internet, maybe playing some simple games, some reading, etc. You know. Standard grandma tablet stuff. She's not going to try to put Ubuntu on this thing, so she won't really care if it's open-source or not.
3) Because they move around so much, mobile data is vitally important. It needs to be reliable and ideally a decent speed.
4) They're both retired and as such something toward the cheaper end of the spectrum would be ideal.
Based on these criteria and after months of research, I've got a few ideas:
Kindle Fire HD - I'm a big Amazon fan, and while I haven't had the pleasure of fiddling with a Fire I know their stuff tends to be relatively easy to use. The Kindle Fire HD (w/ads) is $199, fitting the low-cost aspect. I don't think the ads would bother her, because they certainly don't bother me on my basic Kindle e-reader. I'm not sure about the thing's web browser or other capabilities, but I know for game and multimedia apps it should be pretty solid. I've heard it has some performance issues, though, and the fact that it is so thoroughly integrated into Amazon might cause some problems.
Nook HD+: My other grandmother has a Nook tablet and she loves it. It's reasonably inexpensive, and it looks relatively easy to use. But I'm a little leery of investing in the Barnes & Noble ecosystem, since I'm not convinced it'll be around in a few years and it doesn't support other online stores. I also don't know much about its web browsing capability.
Google Nexus 7: This is the one all the tech blogs say is the best, and the price point is right. It'd be my first choice except it runs Android and I have some reservations about setting her up with that. I don't have a lot of experience with it, and knowing that it has more moving parts than your average tablet OS I might not be able to help her as much with it.
iPad/iPad mini: If money weren't an object I'd just tell her to get one of these and be done with it. But it is.
Now as far as the data plans, I'm at a bit of a loss. I don't really want to get them set up with a contract, but I also want to make sure they get a good deal on a quality network. NetZero
is currently offering half off their mobile broadband devices, and has pretty OK data plans. That would be pretty simple and she could just use any of the WiFi-only tablets with it. But I don't know if I can get better data plans elsewhere, nor do I know if the Netzero network is any good.
So I pose it to the most knowledgeable and good-looking online community in existence - what should I recommend? If you need additional information I'll be happy to provide it.