What Big E-Readers You Have - Recommendations for Grandma
May 25, 2011 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a great simple e-reader for an extremely a-technical elderly non-computer user.

I am looking to buy an e-reader for my grandmother. I know that I can change the font size but would still prefer a larger screen so that she does not tire out her grandma hands flipping pages every thirty seconds.

Priorities: Grandma-freakout-proof interface, no small keys, large screen size

Would be nice: High contrast, international support, built-in voice readback

Would be amazing: Built in pacemaker control

Much obliged. Please help me pay her back for the years of reading me books.
posted by eytanb to Technology (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My 85-year-old grandfather loves gadgets but is not at all computer-savvy or anything like that. He *LOVES* his Kindle.
posted by radioamy at 11:59 AM on May 25, 2011

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if there's really a non-techy e-reader. I mean, each one of them is going to have a menu you have to scroll through or other similar technologies she's most likely unfamiliar with. I think the goal here is to find the least techy one out there.

I can speak from experience when I say the Kindle is extremely easy to use. I've had a 2nd gen Kindle for two years. I have the regular Kindle (6" screen), not the DX (the larger, 9.7" screen). It has an on/off button, a small button keyboard and some buttons on both sides of the screen for HOME, NEXT PAGE, PREV PAGE, etc. To navigate the page on the screen, you push the tiny little joystick-like button up, down, right, left. To choose something you press down on the button. I'm thinking of my grandma (extremely non techy, never used a computer) when I say this -- I think I could teach her how to use this within 30 minutes.

I think the main learning curve would be searching for and purchasing books. If she wants to search for a particular book or author she will need to use the small button keyboard to type words. I think this would be my greatest challenge in teaching my own grandma. They freak out easily, don't I know it.

One more note - make sure the reader has its own connection to the internet (3G for the Kindle), because I'm pretty sure your granny doesn't have Wi-Fi in her home.
posted by Falwless at 12:00 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, there's the new touchscreen Nook with its touchscreen interface and the fact that it only has 5 buttons unlike the Kindle, but it's not slated for release until June 10. Also, it's WiFi only - no 3G connection.
posted by Telpethoron at 12:05 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

You want a Kindle 3G. The Kindle's keys seem small, the touchscreen on my Nook was worse. (and the important buttons are more than large enough) Upside to the 3G model is you will never have to worry about setting up wifi.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 12:18 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree on Kindle ... it seems that older people who are non-technical prefer the button interface to touch screen, and I have heard many stories of elderly people who have never used computers loving their Kindle. You could do all the ordering for her, even if you are not nearby physically, and actually send books from your computer to her Kindle, all she has to do is turn on the wireless (get the 3G Kindle) and let them download.

Also, Kindle has a text-to-speech feature, that can be set on a few different speeds. If you turn it on and turn the volume way down, then you don't have to listen to it but it will automatically turn the pages.
posted by batikrose at 12:50 PM on May 25, 2011

Nthing the Kindle recommendation. It meets all your requirements. And Grandma will freak out in a wholly positive way when she finds out she can read the paper on it. (I can't get over my own ability to read the NYT on it. It's a daily miracle.)
posted by bearwife at 1:01 PM on May 25, 2011

Or, and if she really loves books read aloud, I'd recommend a simple Ipod loaded with some wonderful books from audible.com. The Kindle's voice over for text is fine, but it is nothing compared with the experience of listening to a talented narrator reading a good book.
posted by bearwife at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2011

I'm wondering if a better option might be to check out Playaways from your public library? They're a big hit with our older technophobe patrons. They come pre-loaded with audiobooks.

I deal with technophobes every day, and the learning curve can be pretty steep and frustrating for them.
posted by sugarbomb at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2011

I just started using an iPad. When I use it in landscape more the type is quite comfortable. The ability to use it as a digital picture frame might be a plus. I hear from lots of people that the kindle has the best screen res.
posted by theora55 at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2011

Kindle, hands-down. Kindle DX if you want to spring for it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 2:05 PM on May 25, 2011

I'm going to nth the Kindle suggestion; the Nook interface was rage-inducing for me when I tried spending a few minutes with it (I've been using computers for over 15 years), and while the Kindle isn't perfect, it's straightforward enough I could use it within a minute. I have no doubt I'd have gotten used to the Nook if I wasn't so immediately irritated by it, and I have friends with Nooks who did just that, but I definitely would not recommend it if you're looking for something intuitive and easy to navigate for someone who isn't used to computers and devices.

Also, I'd advise against a backlit Nook; it's hard on some people's eyes and makes it difficult to read in some lightings, and you'd probably especially want to avoid those problems with an older person. With a Kindle you just need the same light you always need to read.

The Kindle does have rather small keys but I'm not sure you're going to find an e-reader with ones much bigger. It does voice playback, as others have mentioned, has the same contrast as a print book, and has adjustable font sizes.

If you want a bigger screen, go with a Kindle DX.
posted by Nattie at 2:05 PM on May 25, 2011

My mom has very impaired vision. She had a Kindle for a short time, but was unable to read with it even at the largest font size. I recently set her up with an iPad and the Kindle app. She set the font large, the background black, and the text white. The difference in readability for her is dramatic.

I disagree that the Kindle is easy to use for someone who isn't familiar with electronics. The touch interface on the iPad has been much easier for her to operate compared to the Kindle's joystick + menu approach.
posted by the jam at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2011

I just got my 86-year old non-techy father a 3rd generation Kindle (Wi-Fi & Wispernet). He is just interested in reading books and the iPad would annoy him. The Kindle is very easy for him to use and he finds the eInk very easy to read. I have a Kindle, an iPad, and an Android tablet. I prefer to read on the Kindle.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 5:55 PM on May 25, 2011

The Kindle DX would be great for screen size -- I think the regular screen feels kind of small, esp if you want to make the type size as big as large-print books, or larger. Not sure about device size and comfort, though -- if your grandmother has arthritis or anything like that, smaller might be more comfortable.

I love the suggestion that you could facilitate buying her books. Online ordering is so easy! And battery life on most readers is pretty good, even if she leaves the wifi on all the time.

I own both a Kindle and a b&w Nook, and have a Sony Reader at work. I'm a librarian who answers lots of ebook questions, and while every reader has a learning curve, I think they're much more alike than they are different. I know patrons who really prefer the ease of a touch-screen -- those little buttons on the Kindle are hard for a lot of people to use, and the touch-screen keyboard on the Nook makes them run the other way. Other folks seem to like the Kindle and Nook interfaces. Target, Wal-Mart, and even CVS all have live ebooks for people to try out, so I guess I'm saying you should try a couple of them if you can before deciding.

What a great gift! I'm sure she'll love it. :^)
posted by hms71 at 6:10 PM on May 25, 2011

My visually-impaired friend loves her ipad as an ereader, particularly because it can go to very large fonts, is backlit and can switch to white on black. They are also very easy to use.
posted by jb at 11:05 PM on May 25, 2011

For those who disliked the Nook above, have you had a chance to look at the new one?
posted by pharm at 6:17 AM on May 26, 2011

« Older Music inspired by the Beatles   |   Spanish language Irish drinking song? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.