By JIM MILLER
(SAVVY SENIOR) Video chatting is a great way to stay connected and keep tabs on an elder parent when you can’t be there. Various products on the market today offer simple video calling for seniors who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with technology. Here are three unique devices to consider.
If you’re interested in a device that requires no input, check out the ViewClix Smart Frame. This is a 15-inch digital picture frame with video calling capabilities designed specifically for seniors.
Ready to use right out of the box, this device lets family and friends make video calls and send photos (displayed as a slideshow) directly to a ViewClix Smart Frame anytime from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
To do this, simply download the free ViewClix app to devices.
All photos sent and video calls made to ViewClix are received automatically. But, it is worth noting this is a receiving device only. Someone with a ViewClix cannot initiate video calls.
This device is available at ViewClix.com or 800-304-4281 for $299 (Wi-Fi is required), or purchase their 4G Broadband model that works with T-Mobile if Wi-Fi is not available, for $299, plus a $20 monthly broadband fee.
Another nifty product that offers simple video calling, and much more, is the grandPad. This is an 8-inch touchscreen custom tablet designed for seniors, ages 75 and older. It comes with a stylus, charging stand, and Verizon 4G LTE built-in, so it works anywhere within the Verizon network—home Wi-Fi is not necessary.
This unique tablet provides a simplified menu of big colorful icons and large text to only essential features, giving clutter-free, one-touch access to make and receive video calls and phone calls, send voice emails, view photos and videos, listen to personalized music, check the weather, play games and more. But, to simplify usage and avoid confusion, it does not offer Web browsing.
GrandPad also has a “Help” button that offers 24/7 phone/tablet remote assistance to help with any facet of the tablet, and it provides damage and theft insurance, so if a tablet becomes broken or lost, it will be replaced at no additional cost. Available at grandPad.net or call 800-704-9412, a grandPad leases for $66 per month, or $49/month if you pay one year in advance.
For someone who doesn’t mind talking to a machine, the voice-activated Amazon Echo Show is another senior-friendly device for video chatting (Wi-Fi is required).
Available at Amazon.com for $230, the Echo Show has a 7-inch color touchscreen that enables a person to make and receive video calls from those who have their own device, or who have the free Amazon Alexa app installed on their smartphone or tablet.
Once contacts are set up, simply say, “Alexa, call Susan” to make a call. And when a call comes in, ask Alexa to answer or ignore the call.
There’s also a feature called “drop-in,” which could allow preselected relatives or friends to video in to the Echo Show device at any time without input.
The Echo Show also offers a bevy of other features to enjoy, like voice-activated access to news, weather, favorite music, and more. ISI
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 book, The Savvy Senior.