Dear Savvy Senior: What computers can you recommend for seniors with limited computer skills? I am interested in getting one, but at 76, I need one that’s designed simplistically for me. — Inexperienced Senior
Dear Inexperienced: There are actually several companies that make and sell computers designed specifically for seniors who have little or no computer experience. Here are some top options to check out.
If you’re primarily interested in a home desktop computer, the Telikin (telikin.com, 800-230-3881), which has been on the market for more than two years, is an excellent option.
Ready to go right out of the box, this all-in-one touch-screen computer provides a big button menu that displays all your favorite functions on the screen at all times. By simply touching the menu option of your choice with your finger, you can get instant access to the Web, email, games, video chat, photo sharing, news, weather and more.
Available in two sizes — the 18-inch LCD touch-screen with a 320-gigabyte hard drive that costs $699, and the 20-inch LCD touch-screen with 500-gigabytes for $999 — all Telikin computers come with built-in speakers, a Web camera, microphone, wired keyboard and mouse. They even offer “tech buddy” software that your loved ones can download on their computers, so they can access your Telikin remotely to help you when need be.
Running on Linux software instead of the standard Windows or Mac OS, the Telikin is also virus-resistant, comes with a 60-day trial period, a one-year warranty and free tech support.
It’s also worth noting that Telikin has a partnership with firstSTREET — a senior product direct marketing company – that is also selling the 20-inch Telikin for $999, but have rebranded it as the “WOW! Computer for Seniors.”
Another option to consider is the MyGait Elite Computer (mygait.com, 866-469-4248), which costs $899 plus a $20 monthly service fee. This mouse-operated PC has a 20-inch high-resolution monitor, a large-letter color-coded keyboard, one-click functionality for all pages, a simple zoom feature that lets you magnify your email or Web page up to 200 percent, and an ergonomic trackball mouse that’s easy on the hand and wrist.
It also comes with a built in Web camera, DVD/CD player, unlimited storage space, dozens of games and a unique customer service package that guarantees protection against viruses and spam, provides ongoing computer updates, and offers a help line if you ever get stuck or need assistance.
If you’re interested in something mobile, there are several new senior-specific tablets on the market you should look into like the Claris Companion (clariscompanion.com, 866-284-4939), which combines a computer, digital picture frame, mobile phone and passive monitoring device into one package.
It has a 10-inch touch-screen with huge text and buttons, amplified sound and comes in a thick bamboo frame that’s easy to hold on to, plus a stand that props it up.
It also provides simplified access to email, text messaging, the Web, video chat and photos. Along with exercise videos, medication and other reminders, it gives family members the ability to easily monitor you if you need an extra hand. It even let’s you or our loved ones personalize the tablet to handle your specific needs and abilities.
The Claris Companion offers a variety of pricing packages that start at $100 with a two-year contract, plus a $59 monthly subscription fee.
Another option to consider is the In-Touch Senior Tablet (seniortouchpad.com), which is also a 10-inch tablet that provides simple one-touch, big-button access to the Web, email, text messaging, your calendar, video chat, medication reminders and more. The Senior Tablet costs $400.
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.