Sending videos to the old folks at home
July 13, 2015 9:49 AM   Subscribe

What device or electronic setup would enable an elderly, non-tech-savvy person to straightforwardly view photos and videos with a minimum of fuss? Difficulty: no wifi, no 4G, no DVD player, no ongoing tech-support access, nursing-home setting with mild theft issues.

This is for someone who has mail delivery but no online access at all, so I was ideally hoping I could find a setup that'd allow simple, reliable and non-buggy playback of video files pre-saved on some sort of pluggable media that could be mailed (SD cards? cheapie thumb drives?). You'd think that e-picture frames with video capability would be A Thing, but the few I've seen seem to get terrible reviews for reliability and user-friendliness. The user has played computer games in the past (c. Win 98 era) and could probably handle simple menu navigation or icon selection, but would absolutely not be up to recognizing or fixing any issues that might arise.

Complicating matters still farther, this would be used in a sometimes-unsupervised institutional setting where there have been occasional reports of theft, so it'd be best if this could be done with either secondhand or conspicuously-inexpensive new tech. (As a side-note, if anyone has ideas for deterring such theft, or for securing belongings in these settings, I'd love to hear them!) On the bright side, premium picture and sound quality aren't necessarily a priority, as long as everything can be viewed. Thanks in advance, Metafilter!
posted by Bardolph to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about an older laptop, set up to autoplay CDs? Bonus: familiarity.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I realise that you are mostly focused on videos, but for photographs I want
To share with my elderly grandpa I use the moonpig card service and use the large cards.
posted by pairofshades at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2015

Do they have access to a TV? There are very inexpensive DVD writer/players that can plug directly into the USB port on a newish TV (example).
posted by roll truck roll at 10:16 AM on July 13, 2015

Seconding a DVD player - most of the staff would be able to help. Sd cards and jumpdrives can be reused, but a DVD-R can't so the chances of theft go down. The person burning the DVDs should invest in some good software and test the DVDs on a different home player (not the drive that was used write) to make sure it works.
posted by soelo at 10:21 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am probably being Ms obvious of obviousville here but how about printing the still photos & mailing them? I do that with my legally blind mother, she finds photos easier as she can stick them under a magnifier & finds them easier to show of to her friends etc.

My husband will also make autoplay DVD's with slideshows for her she has to use her big TV to see them, but if your persons eyesight is fine a cheap all in one DVD player & screen/portable DVD player combo might work, they sell for around $50 each for a cheapo version.
posted by wwax at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would do the Shutterfly-type photo books every few months. (Can usually find good coupons for those by signing up for their email list and/or Groupon/Living Social-type services.) And then bring videos on DVD when I visit.

With my mother-in-law we currently do a electronic photo frame thing, too -- every six months or so we take the frame home with us, upload new photos then deliver the frame back the next time we visit. YMMV with regards to the theft issues and the frequency of your visits.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:43 AM on July 13, 2015

I'd get a cheap android tablet. You can customize it to remove everything extraneous, and use an SD or micro SD. A dvd player is another good idea - simple and easy.
posted by Aranquis at 12:31 PM on July 13, 2015

Some portable DVD players will also display photos.

For theft issues, you can buy a set of metal stamps at Harbor Freight for around $10. Heat them and stamp your relatives name on the most visible part of the case. This will decrease the resale value and make it easy to return to the right person if it gets lost or another resident has trouble remembering what does and does not belong to them.

You can stamp a nice message to the resident on there as well.
posted by yohko at 12:56 PM on July 13, 2015

If the resident tends to lose small items in bedcovers, gluing two feet of grosgrain ribbon to the device will help it be seen at laundry time. Theft is not the only way small things can disappear.
posted by yohko at 12:59 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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