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Product Focus: Samsung YP-S2-ZB 1GB Flash MP3 Player

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Senior Friendly Features

Cool Factor

9

Senior Friendly Features

Weight :

7 oz - 7.9 oz

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The Samsung YP-S2 is a small, lightweight personal music player that is shaped a little like a pebble, designed to even be worn around the neck. It’s small, about 1-2/3 inches in diameter and a little over a half-inch thick. It can play most compressed formats, including MP3, WMA, and OGG files, for up to 13 hours on a charge. The LED along the bottom edge flashes various colors and patterns based on the playback mode chosen. It holds up to 1GB of music, which can be quite a lot of songs depending on the size of the files.

The controls are simple and on one side of the player, including play/pause, volume and playback options. It comes with earbud headphones and a USB cable, and software that allows you to dial in graphic equalizer controls if you want to really fine-tune the sound.

Senior-Friendly Features: Easy to hear  Easy to use  Sound Quality  Durability  Price 

Other Features: The flip-out boom brings the main microphone closer to your mouth, dual microphones work together to cancel outside noise well. Users comparing this to the previous models of this series from Motorola report that this headset has better volume which some seniors may really appreciate. The 12-hour talk time is fantastic, and for around 40 bucks, it’s a good deal for a bluetooth headset. Audible voice prompts tell you when you connect, which phone is ringing and battery level.

For more information or to purchase a Motorola H730 bluetooth headset, visit Amazon.com.

Lojack for Seniors?

by NELLIE DAY on FEBRUARY 17, 2011 · 1 COMMENT

Lojack’s SafetyNet bracelet for seniors

Lojack, the company best known for auto recovery systems, has created a senior recovery system of sorts for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive disorders. Dubbed the SafetyNet bracelet, this tracking software is embedded in a band that can be worn around a senior’s wrist or ankle.

Caregivers who want to equip a loved one with this bracelet must enroll the senior in the Lojack SafetyNet program. Once enrolled, the senior is assigned a radio frequency and a digital verification number. They are also given the SafetyNet bracelet, which looks like a hospital wristband, to wear at all times.

The caregiver will then enter information about the senior into a secure database that is accessible by qualified law enforcement personnel. This information includes a physical description of the senior, along with any medical conditions they may have. You can even include notes about the best ways to interact with this person, should they be confused, scared or agitated when they are located.

If a senior goes missing, the caretaker will alert local authorities, who have access to the SafetyNet database and can pull up their notes. The search and rescue team, which receives specific training and certification for the SafetyNet program, can utilize the senior’s specially assigned radio frequency signal to locate the individual.

Lojack states that its tracking system should work anywhere, regardless of whether a loved one has entered a wooded area, garage facility or office building. In other words, the radio frequency is extremely strong and precise. The SafetyNet bracelet is also waterproof and durable, so it should work even if a senior falls or gets caught in inclement weather.

The program does have some downsides, however. Caregivers must test the bracelet’s battery daily to ensure it’s working properly, and the battery and wristband must be changed monthly. While these don’t sound like huge tasks, many caregivers are already bogged down with more than they can handle. Testing, changing and replacing these parts frequently could become tedious for some.

There is also the issue of coverage. Since law enforcement and search and rescue officials must undergo training to participate in the SafetyNet program, not every agency in the country is participating yet. You must fill out a questionnaire, which will no doubt be used to sell you the SafetyNet program, just to see if there is a participating agency in your area.

Finally, the SafetyNet program is not covered by most private insurance companies, according to Lojack. It’s also not covered by Medicare, though it is covered by Medicaid in a few states if you fill out a waiver form. Lojack notes that it hopes to one day get full, nationwide coverage for Medicare and Medicaid participants.

This device clearly has some benefits to caregivers and seniors. However, at its current stage, there are also a few downsides. Plus, there’s no telling whether a senior, even one with cognitive disabilities, will voluntarily leave the bracelet on. We’ll continue to follow this program for you, and will provide any updates as more information becomes available.

In case you haven’t heard, Borders, the nation’s second largest bookstore chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday. Borders also announced it would be closing about 200 of its stores.

This has apparently left some Kobo owners nervous. Kobo Inc., the Canadian-based retailer that makes this e-reader and runs Borders’ ebookstore, says not to worry, however.

Unlike Barnes & Noble and Amazon, the ereader associated with Borders is not actually made or owned by Borders. This means the Kobo e-reader and the books stored on it will not be affected by Borders’ bankruptcy announcement.

Kobo Inc. even posted a blog yesterday to keep everyone’s fears at bay. Though the entry is fairly long and self-serving, we’ve included the pertinent parts below.

Kobo is an independent, financially secure company that provides a Global eReading Service… Your ebook library is perfectly safe. The Borders ebook experience is powered by Kobo, an entirely separate company from Borders. Kobo is financially secure and will continue to maintain your ebook library no matter what happens… Kobo will continue to provide ebook services to Borders customers through Borders.com and Borders apps and desktop software. You shouldn’t notice any difference in terms of service or selection… Borders will continue to offer phone and email customer service for devices purchased at their stores and Borders.com… As Borders is a minority investor and a minority of global revenues we see more upside in our future than downside from today’s news.

 

The ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore 1500mAh External Battery Pack with Universal USB Charging is a good choice for boomers with a lot of battery-powered portable devices that run out of juice often. Or just a green way to keep devices charged. It’s very useful, having an internal battery that can be consistently charged by the sun, or via USB or AC adapter. The solar charging part won’t charge your phone in an hour or two, but if the internal battery is charged, you can recharge your phone or other device.

There’s a flexible LED flashlight on the side, a power indicator to show how much charge the battery has, and has standard USB output to use any OEM USB cord you have for your device.

For more information or to buy the ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore, visitAmazon.com.

Partial list of compatibility:

Motorola Droid X / Droid 2 / Droid / Milestone / Backflip / CLIQ / CLIQ XT / Defy / Charm

HTC HD7 / EVO 4G / Shift 4g / Thunderbolt / 7 Pro / Droid Incredible / Droid Eris / Aria / Hero / HD2 / Nexus One / Tilt 2 / Touch Pro / Desire / Imagio / Trophy / Mozart / Surround / G2 / Dream / Legend / Wildfire / G1

Samsung Captivate / Fascinate / Vibrant / Epic 4G / Mesmerize / Focus / Alias / Memoir / Omnia II , 7 / Nexus S / Intercept / Behold II / Transform / moment / Galaxy S pro / i9000 / Focus / Solstice / Continuum

Blackberry Torch / Storm / Storm 2 / Bold 1 ,2 / Tour / Curve / Curve 2 / Pearl 3G

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G / MyTouch 3G / G2 / G1

Nokia N900 / N8 / Nuron / N97

LG: Quantum / Ally VS740 / Banter AX265 / Chocolate 3 / Dare / Optimus / Rumor2

Amazon Kindle 1 / 2 / DX

Barnes and Noble Nook / Nook Color (OEM Cable required for Nook Color)

Apple iPod Classic / Touch / Shuffle / Nano , iPhone 3G ,3GS ,4G(OEM USB Cable required)

The new Monopoly Live – with its new tower

Monopoly has been reinvented. Yes, the classic 1934 real estate game has undergone a “redevelopment” of sorts that includes an electronic tower that sees all and knows all. The tower is so smart, in fact, that it has eliminated the need for dice, paper money, Chance and Community Chest cards, physical bankers and even counting – the tower will make sure you land on the appropriate space.

Hasbro premiered Monopoly’s newest iteration, called Monopoly Live, at the Toy Fair expo in New York. So far, critics are mixed on whether this tower is a welcomed addition or not. For seniors and younger children, the tower may very well be appreciated. Those who suffer from forgetfulness or who aren’t especially good with numbers won’t have to tackle banker duties anymore.

The tower also observes the pace of the game. If it senses the game has become too drawn out, it will initiate a random horse race or property auction. The quickened game play and official rule overseer (aka the tower) can make things more convenient. Plus, the addition of an electronic component may appeal to grandchildren.

The downside to this latest addition, of course, is that it takes the thinking and, to a large extent, the creativity out of Monopoly. Many families have cultivated their own sets of Monopoly rules over the years, but the tower will have none of it. The lack of dice and Chance and Community Chest cards also give the game a sense of banality. With nearly all activity filtered through the tower, it kind of seems like the tower controls every roll and negotiation.

Monopoly Live isn’t yet available to buy, but it should hit shelves this fall for the relatively reasonable price of $50. Until then, who’s to say whether Monopoly needed a 21st century facelift or not?

Click below for a demonstration of Monopoly Live.

As we mentioned last week, cybercriminals have gotten smarter and more brazen as they try to attack our Internet-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. MSNBC recently sat down with officials from Lookout, an anti-virus company that specializes in smartphones, to warn the public about the six biggest offenders in smartphone malware.

Below is the list.

1.      Geinimi Trojan

Affects “cutesy” game apps, like Monkey Jump 2, which are available in non-Android sanctioned app stores. Can download any and all information stored on your smartphone.

2.      SMS Android Trojan

Is often hidden in Android-based movie player apps. Can send premium text messages that will cost you big time.

3.      3D Anti-terrorists

Looks like a game, which can be accessed from your smartphone browser or downloaded as a Windows Mobile app. Can make international calls from your phone number. MSNBC noted that because there wasn’t an official Windows Mobile app store it was easier for cybercriminals to fool these app downloaders.

4.      TapSnake

Similar looking to the classic game Snake. Can track your location via the smartphone’s GPS function. It would then download a premium GPS app that could steal additional data.

5.      Red Bunny Trojan

Disguised as a mobile browser, the Red Bunny diverts your searches to certain ad pages. Lookout believes Red Bunny Trojan may be part of a pay-per-click scam.

6.      Ikee Worm

This worm affects jailbroken iPhones. Many people who jailbreak their iPhones do so to avoid paying for premium apps. However, this opens them up to a variety of viruses, malware and worms, like Ikee. The worm will start infecting the initial user’s phone before moving on to contacts listed in that phone.

While it’s difficult to avoid every ill-intentioned app or program out there, you can reduce your risk of infection by only purchasing apps from official app stores. And don’t jailbreak your iPhone. That can be bad.

Senior Friendly Features: Easy To Operate Front Panel  Large-buttoned Remote 

Other Perks: If you have a collection of DVDs or CDs from around the world, the Panasonic DVD-S38 plays discs from any region, even in PAL format. Of course, it plays NTSC. This is a good choice if you like finding cool movies from other countries that normally won’t play on a Region 1 player (U.S. region-only) or if you need a universal player for anywhere in the world. It doesn’t have HDMI connectivity, only component, composite and digital audio (coaxial) out, which should work ok for most HDTV sets, but check yours first.

The Panasonic DVD-S38 is available on Amazon.com.

Read our Senior-friendly Guide to DVD Players.

Anyone who’s needed bifocals can tell you how annoying reading can be. That’s why a company called PixelOptics has set out to change this. It created a pair of battery-powered eyeglasses that can turn your normal prescription into reading glasses.

The New York Times notes that this is done through “built-in accelerometers, devices that sense the downward bend of a head, as though to look at a page, that can switch on the reading power automatically.” Readers simply tap on the side of their frames and the reading function is switched on. Tap it again, and it’s switched off.

This electronic integration should eliminate the headache-inducing blur that occurs when a reader glances downward. While these glasses may be trend of the future, they’re probably not going to be extremely popular right now. They cost upwards of $1,200, and their batteries must be changed every two to three days.

Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Durable Design 

Other Features: The X100 is very much a professional or advanced amateur camera. It’s no point-and-shoot, it’s a pretty amazing hybrid, you have your choice of using the viewfinder in traditional rangefinder mode or switch it to electronic viewfinder mode. The camera is gorgeous, looking like a classic Leica rangefinder camera. The camera’s 23mm lens is equivalent to a slightly wide 35mm lens on a 35mm camera, and a nice, fast f/2 maximum aperture. The sensor is very large, APS-C sized (the same size in most consumer DSLR cameras), offering a very clear picture and outstanding low-light performance.

The LCD on the back isn’t huge, at 2.8 inches diagonally, but it’s clean, accurate, and the buttons around are laid out nicely. Looking at the back, you are surprised not to see a winding lever, and with the LCD off it almost looks like the old slot to put in the film box top so you remembered what film you were shooting at the time. Ahhh, nostalgia!

The camera even has a built-in ND filter (up to 3 stops). Wow, I wish my professional DSLR bodies had that option! A 12.3 megapixel sensor of this big size can offer an exceptional picture. There are plenty of intelligent automatic features, plus full manual, and 720p HD video. There’s even a motion panoramic mode to make 120- to 180-degree panoramas. There are built-in film simulation options to capture images and process them to look like they were shot on famed Fuji emulsions Velvia, Provia and Astia as well as several monochrome looks. Images captured in RAW format can be processed later as well.

The dials on the top allow setting controls manually just like you remember on a manual film camera. This camera is stunning. I don’t know about you, but I want one.

For more information or to purchase a Fujifilm FinePix X100, visitAmazon.com.

Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

Senior Friendly Features: Adjustable  Large Screen  Hard Drive Space  RAM  Warranty  Display 

Other Features: – If you’re not looking for a tablet or a portable computer, just an easy-to-use PC for your desktop at home, the HP Touchsmart 610 all-in-one may fit the bill. The entire computer is behind the screen, no extra wires, and the keyboard is wireless. You can actually touch the screen to do a lot of your work, and the screen tilts way back to allow easy use for almost anyone. It has a built-in 1.3 megapixel camera for video calls (e.g. skype) and Beats Audio speakers come standard, as does a Blu-ray drive. It can be configured with up to a whopping 16 GB RAM and a terabyte of storage.

Senior-Friendly Features: Simple Interface  Lightweight  Large LCD Screen  Easy to Use Buttons 

If you want a good, basic mobile phone these days, you don’t always have a lot of great choices. If you don’t spend much time texting or need a 20-megapixel camera or access to 300,000 apps to play Angry Birds or upload stuff to your Facebook page, then you’re not me. Er, you’re probably trying to find a simple phone that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a smartphone. The LG GS170 is a fairly simple flip phone that easily fits in a pocket or around your neck, has a clock on the outside so you don’t have to open it if you just want to see the time. Also allows you to see who is calling before you answer.

The fact that it is a flip phone is helpful to anyone with a hearing aid, as the flip phone design puts the electronic transmitter further from your ear to help cut down on interference and allows you to position the phone better when using a hearing aid.

It does have advanced features, like texting, camera, email, etc. if you want. There’s a simple phone book, it has a speakerphone setting, calendar, alarm clock, and more.

This phone is currently available through T-Mobile for around $9.95 with contract.

If you watched the Grammy Awards, you probably got a glimpse of one. HP is entering the tablet world with the WebOS powered Touchpad. If you already have a Palm Pre, you’ll be familiar with the WebOS interface, on the Touchpad it’s just on a larger screen. And if you have a Palm Pre, the two can share things like website URLs just by tapping the two devices together. It offers a similar large tablet size as many of the new Android and other offerings, at 9.7 inches diagonally measured across the screen. Options are 16- and 32 GB of onboard storage, Bluetooth and WiFi as well as GPS in the 3G model. It will play back HD video on the 1024×768 pixel screen.

It has a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video calls. There’s no mention of additional storage available via SD or MicroSD. It does offer wireless recharging, the first tablet we know of that does so. When they’re available, the initial price should be $599.

It’s Valentine’s Day, the day when we’re supposed to profess our love for significant others. If we’re being honest though, Valentine’s Day culture dictates that this holidays is about more than just non-platonic love. It’s about acknowledging everyone in your life whom you love, like or can stand for more than five minutes. Why else would the stores sell Valentines in packs of 12?

If you’re a grandparent, chances are you have a few little (or not so little) ones who you’d like to exchange “I love yous” with today. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet put a Valentine’s Day card in the mail, however. Because ElderGadget’s thought of a few other ways you can say those three magical words before the day’s over.

5. Skype

Parents and grandparents the world over laud the convenience and joy that Skype creates. It’s an ideal platform if you’ve got a grandchild in college or an adult child away on business. Plus, this video conferencing tool can be used on virtually any electronic that has a front-facing camera. This includes smartphones, tablets, desktop computers (which use webcams) and laptops.

4. Voice Notes

We realize that you may not get to talk to your loved ones in person if there’s quite a bit of physical distance between you two. If you’re separated by eight hours or more, a voice note could be the best way to express your Valentine’s Day feelings. Yes, it’s a lot like a voicemail, but you can get creative by singing a song or sharing a story without worrying that you’ll be cut off after a minute or two. Many of the voice note programs also let you send these memos through email, which tends to get checked more often than voicemails.

3. Art, Painting and Drawing Apps

So maybe you didn’t have time to put a physical V-Day card in the mail, but that doesn’t mean your loved ones can’t receive a Valentine from you. There are dozens of drawing, painting and general art apps that can create sincere, homemade Valentines. The great thing is that you can make your Valentine as basic or complex as you like. For the non-artistic types, you can simply trace the words “I love you” or “Happy Valentine’s Day” on the screen with your finger or stylus before emailing it off. Some programs even let you integrate sound effects, photos or animation into your artwork, making your Valentine’s Day possibilities endless!

2. Online Charities

There are a number of trusted sites that can help you donate to worthy causes. This Valentine’s Day, why not make an online donation to one of your children’s or grandchildren’s favorite charities as a gift? JustGive.org lists 1.5 million charities to choose from. A $10 donation in a loved one’s name is a great way to show your love, affection and gratitude to the people in your life. Plus, it’s cheaper than most high-quality boxes of candy, lasts longer than flowers and doesn’t require additional shipping and handling costs.

1. Face to Face

Not everyone has the luxury of living close to family and friends. However, if you do – and you’re physically able to make the effort – think about setting aside some time this afternoon to stop by and say hi. Even if your loved ones have plans for the night, think of how touched they’ll be to come home and find a hand-written letter from you on their front door or in their mailbox.


LG announced yesterday that it has created the first 3D smartphone that does not require those bulky 3D glasses. Called the LG Optimus 3D, this phone can shoot, record and play back images in 3D.

Users can also watch content in 3D through LG’s new partnership with YouTube. This recently reach agreement includes a 3D channel where Optimus 3D owners can upload and download videos.

Many critics have so far argued that there isn’t enough 3D content compatible with this device to warrant its purchase. However, who’s to say what the future may hold? YouTube is an online powerhouse, after all, and 3D cameras, camcorders, television shows and movies seem to be just gaining their steam.

Click below for a (somewhat cheesy) demonstration of the new LG Optimus 3D.

If Obama gets his way, 98% of Americans will have access to 4G by 2016

While the major telecommunications companies are hard at work developing their 4G networks, Pres. Obama has said the efforts of these private companies may not be enough. In both his State of the Union address and a speech he gave recently at Northern Michigan University, Obama outlined how important it was to build America’s wireless infrastructure.

He argued that while the highways and railroads may have shaped the infrastructure of centuries’ past, it is the electronic highways that will give America and Americans the advantage in the future.

Dubbed the “Plan to Win the Future through the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative,” Obama wants the public and private sectors to work together to bring 4G to nearly everyone, including rural America.

This, he argued, would allow small and mom-and-pop businesses to gain an online presence. It would provide those who live far from large cities the opportunities to attend online classes. It could make online medical records accessible to seniors who have retired in sparsely populated communities.

According to information released by the White House, the President’s 4G plan would nearly double the wireless broadband available. The 4G network would also be more than 10 times as fast as current wireless services.

Obama wants to invest about $27.8 billion into this idea, which would include “basic research,” building the 4G wireless network so that it reaches 98 percent of all Americans, and creating a high-speed wireless network for emergency and public service agencies.

This week we’ve looked at three plasma televisions in the 50-inch range.

The Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV, the Samsung PN50C8000 50-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTVand the LG INFINIA 50PK750 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV.

 

 

 

 

All have similar specs, with the LG being the only one without 3D capabilities. The Panasonic can play back 3D content, and the Samsung can not only play it back, it can convert standard 2D video to 3D. Both of the latter require optional 3D active shutter glasses (sold separately).

 

PICTURE QUALITY:

Plasmas natively have excellent picture quality, with high contrast ranges and little to no motion artifacts. This becomes increasingly important with 3D content, as motion artifacts, any ghosting or judder can make watching 3D difficult. The Panasonic scores highest for it’s fast motion performance. The LG tips the scales at a good 3,000,000:1 contrast ratio, followed by the Panasonic at 5,000,000:1, then the Samsung at a very contrasty 7,000,000:1. Panasonic offers THX certification, while the Samsung has the widest options for picture control, which a videophile may really want to wade through, but others may not want to.

The Panasonic’s active shutter glasses actually shut both eyes between frames to mask any unwanted interframe image problems. That’s an added plus for 3D viewing. The one thing the Panasonic can’t handle is native 24 frame-per-second video.

In overall picture quality, the Samsung gets it.

INTERNET CONNECTIVITY:

All three sets offer some form of internet connectivity. These days, many new HDTVs have that at least as an option. Panasonic offers theirs through a portal they call VIERA Cast. They offer a limited number of the most popular options, e.g. YouTube and Picasa Web Albums, Pandora Internet Radio, Netflix, FOX Sports, Twitter and Skype. Samsung adds BLOCKBUSTER, Facebook and Flickr, and LG adds VuDu. Though LG seems to have more options, the Samsung and Panasonic both offer an optional webcam for Skype video chatting.

Samsung gets the edge here.

PRICE:

With recent price drops, the LG becomes the least expensive, only by about $10 on Amazon. The Samsung is far and above the most expensive set.

OTHER FEATURES:

The LG does offer two compelling extra features, intelligent light sensing (adjusts the brightness depending on the ambient light in your room) and an audio feature they call “Clear Voice II”, which enhances and amplifies audio in the vocal range to make dialogue easier to hear. If you’ve ever sat through a show where people mumble, you’ll get why this is a great feature.

LG wins this one.

COOL FACTOR:

If you want the bragging rights in your neighborhood, I’m afraid you’re going to have to pay for them. The Samsung offers 2D-3D conversion, and with the brushed metal touches, thinner-than-Kate-Moss profile and glass outer bezel (which makes it look like it matches literally any room) it looks as beautiful as it performs.

 

 

THE WINNER:

If  you’re on a budget, your criteria may be different here. The Samsung’s ultra-flat panel, glass outer bezel edge, and ability to convert 2D to 3D make it a clear winner here.

 

Read our Senior’s Guide to Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs

 

 

 

 

This week we’ve looked at four of the current top digital point-and-shoot cameras under $200:

The Canon SD1300 ISSony Cybershot DSC-W370Nikon Coolpix S4000 and the Casio Exilim EX-G1.

 

They all have very similar features, but each one has its own special strengths. Of course, you’re wondering which one to buy, right? Well, there’s no simple answer, some of it will depend on your particular needs. Herein we’re going to spell out the best features of each and pick the one we like best.

We offer guides for what we’re looking for in a particular product, especially those features that might make a camera more senior-friendly. You can check out our Elder-friendly Guide to Digital Camerasfor more information.

LARGE LCD SCREEN:

The Casio sports a 2.5″ LCD, the Canon has a 2.7″ screen, and both the Sony and Nikon have 3″ LCDs. All are bright, clear, and relatively good in any light including bright sun. The Nikon’s is a touch screen, and looks almost bigger because the rest of the camera is so small. For this, Nikon gets the win by an edge.

EASY TO FEEL/SEE CONTROLS:

The Nikon’s buttons are almost all accessed via a touch screen, which also cleans up the camera. It’s Achilles heel is the on-off button, that is tiny and the most difficult of all of the cameras to easily use. Sony’s are minimalist and fairly large, offering a very easy to use toggle for switching between camera and video. Sony incorporates a couple of control wheels, but an overall clean design with large enough controls for easy handling. The Casio has a ton of tiny buttons. They’re well placed, but small and great for highly dexterous hands and really good eyesight. Unless you need tactile feedback on every button you press, the Nikon wins here.

SIMPLICITY:

Nikon’s menus are intuitive and easy to navigate via the touch screen. Casio has a lot of small buttons to achieve what could be accessed in a menu. Canon and Sony’s cameras are similar, easy to use, but Sony adds something extra. Turn the wheel to the “Easy” setting and something great happens. The menu options are greatly simplified and all the text and symbols on the LCD get larger and easier to read. You still have the great intelligent auto features that all the cameras in this class offer, but without so many confusing options. I’m a professional photographer, and there are times that my point-and-shoot has been set in such a way that I couldn’t get the camera to work right without going through several pages of menus to figure out why it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. By that time, the moment I wanted to capture had passed.

If you’re at least of the Baby Boomer era, remember that old 110 or 126 camera that had a button to press and a winding lever, and maybe a flash on/off switch? Well, this doesn’t make it that simple, but darn close. For that feature, we really have to give it to Sony.

DURABLE DESIGN:

Do you drop cameras? Cell Phones? Lots of stuff? Me, too! I’m pretty coordinated, and you should still see all the dings and scratches on my devices. Gravity is not lost on me, nor my devices. I like ‘em sturdy, don’t you?

All the cameras in this class are fairly robust, they feel pretty solid in your hand without feeling overly bulky. They all have a place to attach a lanyard/wrist strap. But a wrist strap won’t help you when your camera is on a table and someone accidentally bumps it off onto the floor. I’d guestimate that most of these would handle a fall onto a wooden floor once from a table, carpeting even better. Maybe you’re not clumsy, but your friend that you hang out with all the time is. Yeah, your friend. Here’s where you might really like the Casio. It’s not only fairly grippable with the ergonomic shape, but it’s made to handle a 7-foot drop onto concrete. Repeatedly. Might be just the thing for our readers who are butterfingered ex-NBA players.

It’s also dust- and water resistant up to 3 meters (that’s a little over 3 yards in imperial measurement) for over an hour. Drop it in a puddle from your car? No problem.

For durability, it’s the Casio, hands down.

VIDEO:

All four cameras shoot at least standard definition video. Sony shoots SD video at 640×480, the Casio shoots that and wide SD at 848×480. The Nikon and Sony shoot the low end of the HD spectrum at 720p (1080×720).

COOL FACTOR:

Nikon has “Cool” right in the Coolpix name. Canon is also a great camera maker, both have legendary optics. The Casio is space-age looking and all but bulletproof. But with the highest resolution (14.1 megapixels), clean design and Carl Zeiss optics, we really want the Sony.

 

THE WINNER:

Each person has his or her own criteria and needs for a camera, and we do recommend handling different cameras to see if they make sense to you when in your hand. Modern cameras are very sophisticated, yet fairly user-friendly.

That’s great, but which one is the best digital camera to buy?

Glad you asked.

In this class, they’re all close. I think the “Easy” setting on the Sony makes it amazingly great camera. I’d probably leave this camera in that mode 99% of the time. If you’re buying a point-and-shoot camera and want something that’s very user-friendly and has everything, it’s the Sony Cybershot W370.

 

 

 

Tony Donaldson is a professional photographer with 20+ years’ experience and is a writer for eldergadget and prophotocoalition.

 

AT&T has clearly been thinking about how to maintain its competitive iPhone edge, now that Verizon is an Apple carrier. Its newest strategy sounds like a great deal, initially. The telecommunications company recently announced it would offer many of its mobile users unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling across all carriers, including Verizon and Sprint.

This would mean that AT&T customers could call any mobile phone on any other network for free, without eating into their minutes. Now naturally, there are some caveats. This feature is only available to customers who have signed up for unlimited messaging plans and who pay $39.99 or more for those plans.

Many people, ourselves included, will think this includes them. However, the only way to know for sure whether you qualify is to log in to your AT&T account and review your “Features.” This process sounds simple, but it can be confusing. AT&T provides step-by-step instructions on the support page for anyone who needs a little assistance.

If you happen to qualify for this new feature – and we haven’t met anyone yet who does – you then have to opt-in by checking the box for “AT&T Messaging Unlimited with Mobile to any Mobile Calling.”

We highly recommend you review your account if you’re an AT&T customer to see if you qualify for this feature. Let us know whether you qualify and whether you think the introduction of any mobile-to-mobile feature was a smart countermove by AT&T.

The numbers don’t lie: the 65-and-older population will double in the next 40 years; 80 million American Baby Boomers will enter their 60s and 70s over the next two decades; one in four citizens in Japan will be 65 or older by 2015.

These stats were gathered by The Atlantic, which recently ran a storysurmising that the next tech revolution will focus on seniors. With numbers like these, there’s little wonder why.

Aside from their impending population boom, another reason The Atlantic cites for the sudden interest in senior technology is all that retirement money. The online article argues that the elderly spend a larger share of their income, and that many are happy to jump into the technology realm as long as gadgets serve a purpose without patronizing. The Atlantic explains:

That’s why you see multinational companies like Intel chasing “wellness enhancement” technology that will appeal to seniors without insulting their intelligence. Phones with comically large digits? Not a hit. More popular are simple products that assist the elderly without visually telegraphing the message, “You are old and I am designed to condescendingly remind you of your age.” A smart pillbox that reminds seniors to take vitamins, computers with word games, and mobile robots to facilitate video chats with loved ones thousands of miles away: These are the kind of technologies that are taking off.

We couldn’t agree more.

McAfee recently released its latest findings on cybercriminals, and the news ain’t good. While spam levels have dropped dramatically, cell phone malware rose by 46 percent between 2009 and 2010. The study noted that this is most likely due to the large range of devices that now connect to the Internet.

Just a decade ago the only Internet-enabled platform vulnerable to cybercriminals was the home desktop computer. Today, however, our worlds are wired through smartphones, tablets, laptops and even Internet-enabled televisions.

All of these devices have led to the discovery of 20 million pieces of malware in 2010, according to McAfee. That translated into 55,000 new malware threats everyday.

The security computer company cited PDF and Adobe, the creator of Flash, as favorites among cybercriminal rings. Microsoft’s software was a also a popular target in 2009 and 2010, according to the study.

While no Internet-enabled device is criminal-proof, McAfee noted that Google’s Android operating system was hit particularly hard by trojan horse viruses that buried themselves in its games and apps. Hackers, particularly those who are politically motivated, are also on the rise, according to the study.

Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

Other Features: The LG INFINIA 50PK750 has a 240Hz refresh rate, is THX Certified, and offers internet connectivity to download and play videos and slide shows on demand from VuDu, Netflix, YouTube, Picasa, Netcast, and more. This is one of the least expensive plasma sets in its class, and though the blacks aren’t as deep as some of the pricier sets, seniors will love the crisp clarity of the LG’s plasma picture. An intelligent sensor adjusts the picture to changing indoor lighting conditions, great for rooms that have a lot of sunlight or when watching shows around dawn or dusk. Clear Voice enhances and optimizes sounds in the human voice range to make dialog very clear and easy to hear and understand.

A pair of USB ports allow external hard drives to be connected to allow for storage and playback of video, MP3s, and more. The stereo speakers are rated at 20 watts and offer Dolby Digital Decoding. Four HDMI inputs allow for connection to all your home theatre components.

  • THX Certified Display
  • NetCast Entertainment Access (Wi-Fi Ready)
  • Wireless 1080p Ready
  • 600Hz Max Sub Field Driving

For more information or to purchase a Samsung PN50C80005, visitAmazon.com.

Read our Senior’s Guide to Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

The Casio EX-G1 digital point-and-shoot camera looks different from other cameras. The right-hand side is at an angle, it has built-in indentations for easy handling. But that’s not the biggest difference, it’s not just ergonomics. This camera is tough. It’s designed to be shock-proof enough to handle a 7-foot drop. On to concrete. More than once. If you’re like me, that’s a great feature. I’ve broken a lot of cameras (and phones, and other devices) by dropping them. I’m not seven feet tall, but those drops take their toll.

It’s also waterproof, able to handle being fully submerged up to 3 meters for an hour. Drop your camera in a puddle or gutter in a rain storm, or in a stream on a hike? No problem. Dust also doesn’t phase this camera, it’s great for those trips to the desert. If you’re a skier or just like to take pictures outside in the winter, it’s good down to at least 14 degrees fahrenheit.

It has a 12 megapixel sensor, a 4x zoom that starts at a not-very-wide 38mm, shoots standard definition movies with sound, and has a 2.5″ LCD that has a thicker protective cover than most to keep out the elements.

There are quite a few small buttons, great if you have really small, nimble fingers. It is small, easy to hold, and for sure sturdy. The unusual shape actually adds to the handling ability and ergonomics. It’s available in red or black.

  • Ruggedized against shock, dirt, snow, low temperatures, water, and humidity
  • Multi-coated lens is water-repellent and prevents light reflection
  • 12.1-megapixel resolution; 3x optical zoom
  • Advanced Dynamic Photo function; BEST SHOT function
  • Interval shooting function automatically takes still photos or movies at fixed intervals
  • Capture images and video to microSD, microSD /HC memory cards(not included)
  • The Casio EX-G1 can be purchased from Bel Air Camera.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    There are a litany of reasons why we like the Kindle and its many iterations of the Kindle app. There aren’t many complaints we have with this device, except for one, which seems to be common among many Kindle enthusiasts.

    That complaint is page numbers. The ebooks that display on tablets, smartphones and the Kindle ereader do not include page numbers. Instead, your place within a book is marked by a “Location,” which makes no sense.

    For example, I currently reside at Location 1918-1930 in The Survivor’s Club. I love that  Kindle app for iPad tells me that I’m 37 percent finished with the book but just what, exactly, does 1918-1930 mean? What if I were part of a book club and wanted to discuss a certain passage? What if I were taking a class and told to turn to Page 58?

    Page numbers were clearly invented for a reason, and we’re glad Amazon is now recognizing that. Officials recently announced on Kindle’s official blog that real page numbers are being integrated into its ebooks. These numbers will match the paper books exactly, making the transition from paperback to ebook a seamless one.

    Amazon officials note that “real page numbers” have already been added to the Kindle’s top 100 best-selling books, as well as “thousands more of the most popular books.” This feature is only available on Kindle 3G devices right now, but updates for Kindle apps should become available in the coming months.

    There were other features touted on the Kindle blog as well.  Public Notes will allow users to see and share book notes and highlights with others. Before You Go is will activate at the end of a book, letting you rate it, share your thoughts via social media and receive personalized recommendations.

    Many people hold onto their old smartphones once they qualify for an upgrade. Some may have thoughts of making a few bucks on the old phone, but when faced with the prospects of finding a buyer and actually securing the money, not many pursue this option. Instead, phones often end up in desk drawers where they’ll inevitably collect dust.

    This may change, however, now that TheNextWeb.com has paired with eBay to determine just how much some of the most popular smartphones are going for on the auction website. A phone that you thought might have only garnered you a few dollars may, in fact, net you more than $200 if you’re holding onto a BlackBerry Bold 9000 or $360 if you own an old HTC EVO.

    TNW determined these figures by reviewing eBay’s smartphone sales between September and December of 2010. If you own an iPhone, one of eBay’s hottest smartphones, you could garner around $215 for an iPhone 3G or $667, which was the average selling price of an iPhone 4.

    Kind of makes you think twice about throwing your phone in that old desk drawer, doesn’t it?

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Features: The Samsung PN50C8000 (rolls right off the toungue, doesn’t it?) is the 50-inch version of the C8000 line from Samsung. It has an elegant brushed metal gray cabinet that measures a svelte 1.5 inches thick. It has optional internet connectivity with a high speed USB port and connects to YouTube, Blockbuster, Facebook, Flickr and more. It features Samsung’s Cinema Smooth processing, Motion Judder Canceller for a smooth, movie-like experience. It also converts 2D to 3D, so your TV shows, sports, games and movies can be enjoyed in 3D. 3D glasses are active shutter and optional for an extra $349 (includes two pair and a Blu-Ray movie) or $120 (1 pair of glasses).

    • Touch of Color design has glass bezel to make it match any room
    • 1080p Full HD resolution
    • 3D Experience, BD Wise
    • Crystal Full HD Engine with Cinema Smooth
    • Exceeds ENERGY STAR® standard
    • Very thin, needs no external transceiver

    For more information or to purchase a Samsung PN50C80005, visitAmazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

    The Nikon Coolpix S4000 fits nicely into this week’s reviews of relatively inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras. It is one of the smallest cameras in its class, at .8 inches thick, 2.2 inches tall and a mere 4.65 ounces. Inside that it packs 12 megapixels, a 4x Nikkor zoom that starts at 28mm (equivalent), a 3-inch LCD touch screen that takes up nearly the entire back of the camera, Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (aka VR, their name for image stabilization) and HD video.

    The touch screen has a good anti-glare coating, works pretty well in bright sunlight, even better in shade or indoors, and resists fingerprints.

    The tiny size is great for seniors who don’t want to lug around a heavy camera, but it is small enough to be hard to hold manipulate some of the buttons if your fingers aren’t nimble enough. The on/off button is miniscule and requires some good dexterity to turn it on. The touch screen works well and takes the place of many buttons, not only cleaning up the design of the camera, but also providing an intuitive way to control the camera. It works very well in even the most basic setting, figuring out the scene and setting the camera for the best picture. There is no way to set full manual aperture and shutter speed.

    It has advanced features, like face detection (for up to 12 faces at a time) to set exposure and focus optimally, and even a smile timer, to automatically catch people who smile too quickly for even a sports photographer to capture. Red Eye reduction shoots two pictures with flash, and combines them before saving as one. A tiny bit less annoying than the multiple flashes before the real picture that often make someone blink.

    Sensitivity up to ISO 3200 allows higher shutter speeds in low light to still handle action when needed. Picture quality isn’t stellar at 3200, but having a crunchy picture is usually better than no picture at all. At lower ISOs, the picture quality is as you’d expect from a Nikon Coolpix, very good.

    The video it shoots is 720p HD at 24 frames per second. It looks fairly movie-like at that frame rate. There is no HDMI out, so if you want to watch the videos, it has to be either on the back of the camera or you first have to transfer them to your computer.

  • 12.0 megapixels for stunning prints as large as 16 x 20 inches
  • Bright 3.0-inch touch-panel LCD; Sensitive Response Touch Panel; Touch Shutter and Autofocus
  • 4x wide-angle Zoom-NIKKOR glass lens
  • 720p HD movie recording at 24 fps
  • 4-way VR Image Stabilization System; Smart Portrait System
  • Available in Silver, Black, Plum, Pink, or Red
  • The Nikon Coolpix S4000 can be purchased from Bel Air Camera.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    The Catholic Church has officially approved an app. How’s that for the powers of technology? The app is called “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” and it allows iPhone users to create profiles, reviews the church’s sacraments and Commandments, and examine their lives and behaviors.

    While the church and the app developer, Little iApps, say this is no substitute for regularly engaging in the act of Reconciliation, it can open the door for one’s internal dialogue as they refresh their knowledge and evaluate their actions. Users can navigate through the app’s three main features, including Examination, Confession and Prayer.

    The app even provides a list of sins under the Examination category. They are labeled as “Responsibilities to God” and “Responsibilities to Others.”

    The app costs $1.99 and has already been downloaded about 2,000 times, according to one of its developers.

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Features: The Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 is a 50 inch plasma 3D HDTV with some advanced features. It uses active shutter glasses that close both eyes between frames for less visual crosstalk when watching 3D content, and shows each eye at 60 frames per second for very smooth motion. The screen is THX certified and offers up to 80 percent more colors to allow for vivid, natural colors. It has internet connectivity for content from YouTube, Picasa, Pandora, Netflix, twitter and even audio and video conferencing via Skype (requires an optional communication camera TY-CC10). There’s a USB connection for keyboard, an SD card slot for slide shows, and options aplenty for connecting to your home theater.

    • THX Certified 49.9-inch plasma HDTV panel with full 1080p HD resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
    • Full HD 3D sends a separate 1920 x 1080 full-HD image to each eye, for sharp, crisp 3D images
    • Infinite Black Panel includes new filter technology for deep blacks and vivid images with minimal reflection
    • Enjoy VIERA Cast Internet TV services such as Netflix and Skype with wired (included) or wireless LAN connection
    • 3 HDMI, 2 composite with audio, 2 component with audio, 1 analog audio, and 1 PC input; USB and LAN ports

    For more information or to purchase a Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

    There were many entertaining commercial during the Super Bowl, but the one that caught our attention the most had to be Best Buy. Not only did it have star power, as it featured Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber, but it also introduced a new buy-back program that could give shoppers some extra cash when they’re ready to upgrade their gadgets.

    The program is called “Buy Back,” and it works like this: when you purchase a new electronic, such as a cell phone, laptop, TV, tablet or netbook, you also have the option of enrolling in the “Buy Back Program,” which costs $69.99. Once you’re ready to upgrade that electronic you can take it back to any Best Buy within a two-year period (four years, for TVs) and receive up to 50 percent of the gadget’s value in the form of a Best Buy gift card. All items must be accompanied by their original packaging and accessories.

    One of the benefits of the “Buy Back Program,” according to Best Buy, is its transparency. The size of the gift card is based solely on the date the item is returned to the store. Therefore, there’s no wondering about how much you’ll get for that 16-month-old cell phone. By visiting Best Buy’s website, you can see that Best Buy will give you 30 percent of the phone’s original purchase price.

    Click below to see Best Buy’s Super Bowl commercial.

    The Sony Cybershot DSC-W370 has a very impressive set of features for a relatively inexpensive point-and-shoot, including one feature seniors will love. Actually, not just seniors, likely everyone.

    First, the main features. It is small and lightweight, at just over 6 ounces. It has a 3 inch LCD on the back, almost the entire back of the camera. The 14 megapixel sensor will yield really high resolution images capable of large prints. The image-stabilized 7x zoom is one of the widest ranges in its class, though it isn’t very wide at the equivalent of 34mm. Camera snobs will appreciate that the lens is designed for Sony by Carl Zeiss optics.

    You can shoot up to 360-degree panoramas very simply using the Sweep Panorama Mode. Set in this mode, you simply sweep horizontally or vertically and the camera does all the work. The HD Movie Mode shoots 720p HD video. iAuto, Sony’s way of saying “intelligent automatic”, automatically detects 8 different scene types and sets the camera to get the best image.

    If you shoot people, especially in couples or groups, there’s a feature that shoots two images in rapid succession and keeps only the one where nobody blinked. Face detection locks in on faces and focuses based on that. It also detects movement and will automatically increase shutter speeds to help freeze the action, even in lower light. This camera can even do a slide show of your images with music, either pre-loaded or you can load your own from your computer.

    You’d think that with all these features, it would be a complicated camera to use. It’s pretty intuitive even with all this. But read on…

    Here’s the feature we love. A setting on the back marked “Easy”. What it does is it takes away most of the choices, simplifies the menus, and makes all indications and words on the LCD large and really easy to see. Whether you want a really simple camera all the time or are just trying to grab a quick shot, turn the wheel to the “easy” setting and you’re ready to shoot. If you want more options, they’re always there.

  • 14.1-megapixel resolution; 7x (34mm) optical zoom lens with 3.0-inch LCD
  • Capture breathtaking images in Sweep Panorama Mode
  • Optical SteadyShot image stabilization reduces blur; iAuto detects 8 scenes and optimizes camera settings
  • Capture your videos in HD Movie mode (720p)
  • Accepts Memory Stick Duo/Memory Stick PRO Duo/Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo (not included)
  • For more information or to purchase a Sony W370 camera, visitAmazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Most laptops, netbooks, tablets, and phones have webcams built in these days. But not everyone buys the newest gadget. Many of us have older computers, e.g. desktops that are a few years old, and a CRT or LCD monitor without an integrated webcam. Some say we’re “frugal”.
    If you want to be able to have video chats with friends and loved ones via Skype, Yahoo Instant Messenger or any other IM program, you need a webcam.
    Logitech’s C910 webcam has more features than many new devices, like stereo audio and a really high quality Carl Zeiss lens to make the most of the 720p video chatting capabilities and 1080p video recording capabilities. The stereo microphone offers noise cancellation. Recording directly to the computer allows you to get full 1080p for videos for YouTube, etc.
    It works with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, with a machine minimum of 512 MB RAM and a 1 GHz processor. It plugs into a USB 1.1 or higher port, USB 2 is recommended. The included software makes setup easy, and there are even cool effects you can add to the video on the fly.
    • Full HD 1080p video recording and smooth HD 720p video calling with Logitech Fluid CrystalTM Technology; 1-click video uploading to Facebook and YouTube
    • Fluid HD 720p video calling with Logitech More HD Technology
    • 5 MP HD sensor, precision Carl Zeiss lens, autofocus and intelligent auto light correction for crystal clear video and brilliant 10 MP photos
    • Dual built-in noise-cancelling mics let friends hear you in rich, clear HD-quality stereo
    • Works with Logitech VidTM HD, SkypeTM, Yahoo® Messenger, Microsoft LiveTM Messenger

    For more information or to purchase the Logitech C910, visitAmazon.com.

    The Canon Powershot SD1300 IS is one of Canon’s digital ELPH line of cameras. It features a 12 megapixel sensor, 4x zoom, standard definition video and Canon’s legendary image stabilization.

    The menus for photos are simple, very easy to see despite the relatively small 2.7 inch LCD on the back. The buttons are large, clearly marked, and camera is fairly intuitive. The large slider button on the upper righthand side for switching between still photos and video is a nice touch.

    It’s small and lightweight, at about 5 ounces. There’s a built-in flash and the sensor is engineered to work well in low light conditions. The “Smart Auto” feature automatically selects between 18 different settings. The 4x optical zoom starts at the equivalent of 28mm wide.

    The camera takes SD cards, including SDHC and SDXC (all are optional and not included). SD cards are currently the most common in the market. You can get them in capacities of 32GB, allowing you to shoot a ton of pictures or standard definition video. Startup time is very short, under one second. Battery life isn’t stellar, but for most people, if you remember to charge the battery regularly it will be fine.

    The camera is available in your choice of silver, pink, green, blue or brown. I don’t know about you, but having a brown one would almost assure you that nobody else at the party would mistake your camera for theirs.

    • 28mm wide-angle lens; 4x optical zoom and Optical Image Stabilizer
    • Smart AUTO mode intelligently selects from 18 predefined settings
    • 12.1-megapixel resolution allows you to print large size images with clarity and detail
    • Clear 2.7-inch PureColor System LCD
    • Shoot in Low Light mode for dimly-lit situations

    The Canon Powershot SD1300 IS can be purchased from Bel Air Camera.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Rejoice, Super Bowl fans, the NFL’s most anticipated game has jumped on the iPad bandwagon. And it’s chalked full of useful information, entertaining clips and fun timelines that let you track the Packers’ and the Steelers’ journeys to Super Bowl XLV.

    The app functions mostly like a digital magazine, although there are plenty of multimedia clips that feature key plays from Super Bowls’ past. Fans can also get a 360-degree view of the Lombardi Trophy or download the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl programs.

    Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of the Super Bowl itself. There is also an app for those merely interested in the ads. It’s called AdBowl, and it lets you view all the Super Bowl ads at your leisure. You can also cast your ballot for the best ad or read ad-centric tweets.

    For Mel Sampat, founder of Cupidtino, it all started with an iPad. He had just received this revolutionary device last spring and was trying to get his girlfriend, a PC user, to get as excited about it as he was. But she didn’t care, according to the Silicon Valley Mercury News. To her, it was “just a toy.”

    That got Sampat thinking that if he ever found himself single again the first question he’d want to know on a first date was what apps the girl had on her phone. Then he thought he couldn’t be the only one who thought this way.

    So Sampat started Cupidtino, an online dating website for Apple fan boys and girls. In case the name is tripping you up, it’s a combination of Cupid, that oh-so-famous matchmaker, and Cupertino, the city that houses Apple’s headquarters. Apparently Sampat was onto something here. Just one day after he launched the site, it had 6,000 users signed up, according to the Mercury News.

    One person interviewed by the paper said he loved the premise because he knew he could discuss his Mac for an hour with his online dating matches without fearing that his tech talk would alienate them. Users can even incorporate their love for Apple and its products into their profiles by answering questions like “I became a Mac when…”

    While the site’s popularity is still growing, it is off to a good start. If you feel that you just can’t find love with a PC user, you may want to give Cupidtino a try.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Sound Quality

    Other Features: The Sony Ericsson Vivaz phone has quad-band GSM and UMTS/HSPA radio, 8.1 megapixel camera with 720p video recording, 3,2-inch 360 x 640 TFT nHD resistive touch-screen display, Bluetooth, aGPS, micro-SD card slot, and come in Galaxy Blue and Venus Ruby. The device will be priced at $79.99 after a $50 mail-in-rebate in AT&T company-owned retail stores. Seniors will love the ability to share photos and videos via preloaded links to YouTube and Picasa.

    * AT&T Wi-Fi Hotspots – With Vivaz™ and a qualifying AT&T data plan, you have unlimited access to AT&T’s entire nationwide Wi-Fi network at no additional cost. Perfect for uploading your latest HD video masterpiece while taking a load off your feet.
    * 3.2″ nHD screen – Customers can view photos and videos in vivid nHD detail.
    * Multitask Effortlessly – Have multiple applications running simultaneously and easily switch between them, including the ability to multitask while uploading HD video via Wi-Fi.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Smartphones.

    The Notion Ink Adam tablet is a beautiful and much anticipated Android-based tablet. The device has been “in the works” from the India-based company for some time, with production delays. It is finally shipping and is one of the very first to offer NVIDIA’s Tegra 250 dual-core processor. It has a high resolution 10.1 inch display and Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi and optional 3G connectivity.

    The design of the Adam is striking, it has a rounded side that’s easy to grip, a dark edge to match the screen bezel. The screen has an anti-glare, anti-scratch coating that still leaves it crisp and clean, and with the e-ink technology, ebooks are very easy to read. There’s a sensor that tells the Adam if bright light is hitting it and it compensates by getting brighter and more contrasty, making it great in almost any lighting situation.

    It has physical connections galore. In addition to the DC charging jack,it has a MicroSD card slot, Mini USB, 2 USB 2.0 host ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an HDMI port for displaying HD videos on an HDTV. All ports and buttons are elegantly placed and easy to find. The external stereo speakers is great for music, movies or games. There’s a built-in microphone for video chats.

    The 3.2 megapixel camera has a unique feature seniors will love, it swivels! This means that you can find a very comfortable way to frame yourself in video chats. It also cuts the need for a camera on both sides of the tablet, it swivels just over 180 degrees.

    The Adam is engineered for high efficiency/low power consumption, boasting 18 hours of playback on HD movies or well over 100 hours of audio playback. It will ship with Android 2.2, probably 2.3 soon. It uses a proprietary app market, called Genesis, so you’re limited to the number of apps available on the device. This seems to be the Achilles heel of the device, we’re not big fans of limited/proprietary app choices (the ones that limit you to less apps than other devices running the same OS).

    All in all, this is a solid performer with a nice big screen and a lot of great features. The WiFi only version retails for $375, where the 3G version with Pixel Qi, which features backlit LCD and e-ink display technology, will run $549.

    If you think Bluetooth is a rare dental condition and an app is what you eat before the meal, you might not be a candidate for today’s high-tech, un-intelligible smart phones. Instead, you might be happier with a cell phone designed with the senior user in mind.

    Those phones typically don’t have Web-surfing capability, GPS maps and video games but instead have large buttons, oversized digital readouts and hearing-aid compatibility, along with a relatively simple calling plan.

    Though senior-friendly phones aren’t new, their lower prices and variety are. A recent price skirmish among wireless companies means seniors can get an easy-to-use cell phone and cheap service to go with it, said Mac Haddow, senior fellow on public policy for the Alliance for Generational Equity.

    Telecommunications analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics called senior citizens “the last untapped segment” of wireless customers.

    Though about 90 percent of Americans 18 to 49 own cell phones, only 57 percent of seniors 65 and older have them, according to the Pew Research Center. And fewer than one-fourth of wireless phones are purchased by adults 55 and older, according to numbers by market research firm NPD Group.

    Heightened interest recently among wireless phone companies to sell to seniors has meant more offerings and lower prices, Entner said.

    Seniors can get a simple cell phone for about $15, with service as low as about $7 a month, according to an analysis by Alliance for Generational Equity’s Senior Advocate Health & Safety Project. The group said it conducted the analysis because price is often cited as a reason an estimated 13 million to 19 million U.S. seniors don’t own cell phones, said David Herman, spokesman for the Alliance for Generational Equity.

    “We’re in an environment where a lot of senior citizens are having to decide between rent and medicine or medicine and food, and dollars are critical,” Herman said. “The less expensive we can make this, the more people we’re going to have that will use a service they desperately need.”

    Elizabeth Marshall, 82, of Cazanovia, N.Y., gushes about her new rose-colored Motorola phone. “It’s very attractive,” she said.

    She said she got the phone free from Consumer Cellular and pays $10 a month for phone service with no free minutes. She pays a rate of 25 cents per minute.

    “I’m on Social Security, and funds are tight,” Marshall said. “I didn’t want to go and get a high-priced thing.”

    Marshall, who has a slight hearing problem, said she likes that she can turn up the ring and the volume on the earpiece.

    “Seniors as a group have either embraced technology or are kind of scared of it,” Herman said. “Larger keyboard, the (oversized) readouts, compatibility with hearing aids — these are the critical factors. It’s not whether they can text their buddy on Facebook.”

    As for calling plans, the group looked at only prepaid plans, which refers to a pay-as-you-go system. That’s opposed to being committed to a contract plan and their pricey bucket of calling minutes that many seniors might not use, Haddow said.

    “We just couldn’t find one that looked good,” he said of contract plans.

    Prepaid plans have no penalties if users decide to exit the plan early, and prices include all fees and taxes that are tacked on to the monthly bills of contract plans.

    It appears the Super Bowl is one perfectly timed event when it comes to LCD TV purchases. That’s because stores must clear last year’s models before the new models debut in late February, and most are happy to use the Super Bowl as an added marketing ploy. I mean, whodoesn’t want to watch the big game on a brand-new high-definition, flat screen TV?

    While many stores start offering last year’s models at 10 percent off in late January, this year consumers can expect to see prices slashed by 20 percent to 40 percent, according to DisplaySearch, a global market research firm. This is because the demand for LCD TVs has dropped significantly over the past few years.

    These models were extremely popular when they first became household mainstays around 2006. The industry enjoyed steady sales for about three years before the market became saturated, at which point most homes that wanted an LCD TV had already purchased one.

    Experts note that even holiday sales, which are typically manufacturers’ bread and butter, have been slow over the past two seasons.  The debut of 3DTVs and smart TVs may also be hurting the LCD market, experts note, as consumers wait to see how these lines evolve and which models take off.

    Fortunately, what’s bad for the electronics companies is good for the consumer. This may be the perfect time to buy if you’re looking to upgrade one of your televisions – just make sure delivery and set up can be completed by Sunday!

    There’s no question that Facebook is a social media phenomenon. Whether you visit a movie theater, turn on Saturday Night Live, flip through a business magazine or jump online, chances are good that you’re going to run into multiple Facebook references.

    This social media site is so popular, in fact, that it’s the most downloaded free app for the iPhone, according to Mashable. Despite its intense saturation, there is still one tech group that has been left out in the dark when it comes to accessing Facebook.

    That’s the feature phone user. A feature phone is, for all intents and purposes, just a phone. Many are Internet-enabled, but aren’t equipped with fancy operating systems or lightning-fast downloading capabilities. In essence, they lack most of the features that make a smartphone, well, “smart.”

    Being a nuts-and-bolts phone, most feature phones don’t have access to the vast array of apps that Blackberry, iPhone or Android users do. This means no Angry Birds, no Pandora and no Facebook – up until now.

    Facebook recently teamed with Snaptu, a mobile app platform that can run on almost any Internet-enabled phone, to bring Facebook to the nearly 79% of mobile phone owners who still use a feature phone.

    Facebook officials say the new app can be downloaded to more than 2,500 different feature phones throughout the world, including LG, Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones. The app should make Facebook easier to navigate, update and sync with your phone’s contacts.

    This new app provides one more way seniors can stay in touch with their friends and family. While some seniors opt for the advanced smartphones, a great deal still like feature phones because of their lower prices or minimal functions. Feature phones can be a great “gateway” phone for seniors, and the addition of the Facebook app can give them a little glimpse into the app worlds that come with smartphones.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Sound Quality

    Other Features: The HTC Evo Shift offers a slide-out keyboard, 5 megapixel still camera and 720p HD video, Android 2.2, a fast 4G internet connection (where available), HTC’s own overlay interface, FM radio, a 2GB MicroSD card (expandable to 32GB), Bluetooth 2.1 and WiFi connectivity. Since it’s on Sprint, NASCAR fans can instantly connect with the information they want directly from NASCAR. Makes us wonder of the turn-by-turn directions might offer more left turns than right. Just kidding about that last part.

    • Android 2.2-powered phone with 4G wireless connectivity, 3.6-inch touchscreen display, and slide-out QWERTY keyboard
    • Sprint TV and Amazon MP3 Store enabled; GPS turn-by-turn directions via Sprint Navigation=
    • Wi-Fi networking (with optional hotspot capability); 5-MP camera with HD video capture; microSD expansion to 32 GB;
    • Up to 4 hours of talk time; released in January, 2011; Bluetooth stereo music
    • What’s in the Box: handset, rechargeable battery, charger, 2 GB microSD card, wired stereo headset, USB cable, quick start guide

    For more information or to purchase an HTC Evo Shift smartphone, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Smartphones.

    The ebook revolution is officially upon us. Amazon recently announced that Kindle ebooks outsold paperback books during the fourth quarter of 2010. Kindle ebooks had been outselling hardcover books since this past July.

    Amazon says that, in 2010, for every 100 paperbacks it sold, 115 Kindle ebooks were sold. The CEO also noted that Amazon sold three times as many Kindle ebooks as hardcover books last year. What’s even more interesting about these figures is that Amazon did not count free ebooks among its Kindle “sales.”

    We for one, couldn’t be happier with this news. We haven’t picked up a paperback book since unwrapping our Kindle DX this past May and, in fact, we just purchased another ebook through the iPad’s Kindle app about an hour ago. Okay, we admit it, we’re hooked!

    Easy to see, hear, use and understand, Ranch Rush by MSN is a mesmerizing game that puts the player “back in business.” This fast action game will keep your mind working and playing at the same time. And the instructions are both thorough and easy to understand. It is colorful and has challenges at many levels, some easy and some hard. For grandparents and grandchildren alike. This multi-generational experience is truly a gift for grandma and grandpa alike. Hours of fun await all. Enjoy.

    Google has repurposed its Google Street View technology to an indoor venue – or, rather, 17 of them. The Internet corporation recently created Google Art Project, which takes Internet surfers inside 17 art museums around the world.

    Similar to Street View, Google Art Project fans can navigate through corridors and around exhibits. There are also tabs that let users view close-up angles of their favorite works of art. Avid aficionados can even zoom in on the artworks’ brush strokes, thanks to the high-powered lenses. The project’s director noted on Google’s blog that the cameras used produce images that are “1,000 times more detailed than your average digital camera [could produce].”

    We tried visited GoogleArtProject.com, the project’s home, to test out a few museums for ourselves. First, we should say that Google partnered with some world-class institutions. Among the museums participating in the project are New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, France’s Palace of Versailles and London’s Tate Britain.

    Navigating through the actual museum spaces is a bit tricky, just as it is on Google Street View if you’re not used to the way the camera responds to certain clicks. It’s also difficult to get a front-facing view of the artwork when navigating a gallery’s floor.

    Not to worry, though, Google Art Project provides two separate tabs for each museum. The “View Artwork” tab can be utilized when you want to see the artwork up close, and the “Explore the Museum” tab lets you work your way through the actual floor space.

    GoogleArtProject.com is completely free, so even save yourself admission to some of the world’s greatest art museums!

    Watch a preview of Google Art Project below, or visit the website to try out the museums first hand.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Durable Design 

    Other Features: Panasonic’s Lumix TS-2 is shockproof, waterproof to 33 feet, freeze-proof to -10 degrees celcius, and dustproof. If you’re hard on cameras or your active lifestyle requires a camera to go skiing or swimming/snorkeling, take a look at the TS2. It has a 14.1 megapixel sensor, a 4.6x optical zoom, and what Panasonic calls Power OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) for handheld shots down to 1/2 second or 8 cups of coffee (just kidding about the latter). It also shoots HD movies and has an LED light to help light up dark scenes, even underwater. It’s available in a variety of colors.

    • Waterproof to 33 feet
    • Advanced Tough Design
    • AVCHD Lite HD Movie Recording
    • It features almost double the recording time in HD quality compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format.
    • A convenient auto function also automatically turns on the LED when the ambient light becomes dim.

    For more information or to purchase a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Superpad’s Flytouch tablet runs the Android OS, features a 1 GHz processor and has a big 10.2″ touch screen. It has 2 USB ports, 2 MicroSD slots, Mini HDMI out, and a DC jack. All this for just over $250. The build quality isn’t stellar, but you get what you pay for.

    • Display: 10.2″ TFT Touch Screen (1024 x 600 resolution)
    • OS: Android 2.1 Processor: FlyTouch ARM11 1Ghz RAM: 256MB DDR2
    • WiFi Enabled
    • Internal Hard Drive: 2GB Flash with 2 TF slots for expansion (supports MicroSD 32GB max)
    • Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x MicroSD Slots, Mini HDMI, DC Jack, 3.5mm Headphone/Line-Out, RJ45 Ethernet

    For more information or to purchase a Superpad tablet, visitAmazon.com.

    There have been some recent arguments that moderately using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may promote anti-social behaviors, since you get used to communicating with a computer instead of a real person. A study out of the University of Texas, Austin, would like to refute this theory.

    The study, entitled “Got Facebook? Investigating What’s Social About Social Media,” says that using Facebook can actually make a person more sociable. How, you ask? The study’s answer is below.

    Our findings suggest that Facebook is not supplanting face-to-face interactions between friends, family and colleagues. In fact, we believe there is sufficient evidence that social media afford opportunities for new expressions of friendship, intimacy, and community.

    No matter if it is a wall post, a comment, or a photo, young people’s engagement with Facebook is driven, primarily, by a desire to stay connected to and involved in the lives of friends who live close by, far away, or have just entered in to their lives.

    The 900 college students and recent grads who participated in the study also noted that staying in touch with far-off friends and family members were two of the biggest priorities and perks of Facebook. One of the study’s authors told the Los Angeles Times that this kind of social interaction wouldn’t even have been possible a few years ago. “It would have been unimaginable for young people to have their family members as part of their network,” he said.

    While the study mostly included college students, their Facebook activity seems, at least, to be representative of the ways in which the larger audience uses this social networking site. Therefore, it’s probably logical to conclude that Facebook could make seniors who are active on its site more sociable, too.

    The airbag-equipped ski vest that Dainese is currently developing

    We normally wouldn’t write about ski equipment, but this is no ordinary snow accessory. An Italian company called Dainese has created a wearable airbag that could reduce the number of injuries that ski racers experience.

    Dainese is working with the International Ski Federation and a group of skiers to develop the appropriate algorithm that would inflate the airbag system. In laymen’s terms, the company is trying to figure out how much inertia is necessary to deploy the airbag so that it prevents a great deal of major injuries, but isn’t going off every time a skier takes a small tumble.

    Dainese plans to conclude its study of skiers and inertia by 2013, at which time it will likely finalize the airbag-friendly gear. Wearable airbags have already been successfully developed for motorcycle racers.

    This type of built-in technology could be extremely important and useful to the senior population. Those who live alone, have an unsteady gait or poor eyesight could benefit exponentially from wearing lightweight vests or jackets that included an airbag. This could also be a great accessory when traveling outdoors or in snowy conditions.

    Though Dainese doesn’t currently have any plans to venture into the senior-friendly realm, its invention could have a long-lasting impact on it anyway. Just think of how many injuries could be prevented if seniors were wearing vests with built-in airbags!

    Blackberry’s new Presenter is a cool device for road warriors who like to travel light. The small, 1.6 ounce device connects to any TV or projector and can show any Powerpoint presentation directly from a Blackberry smartphone (*of recent, supported phones) with full controls. Whether you want to be able to show your work presentation anywhere, any time, or you have a Powerpoint presentation of your last summer vacation to share with friends, this thing makes it easy to carry, no laptop required.

    For more information or to purchase a Blackberry Presenter, visitAmazon.com.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Bluetooth: 

    Other Features: The GT540 is a small phone with a small screen. It offers a unique design, with different colors and responding textures on the back. The concave top and bottom make it easier to grip. Side buttons are unobtrusive, but some users may find them hard to, well, find. Even unlocked, this is an inexpensive Android phone with a 3 megapixel camera on the back.

    • GSM 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS 900/2100, HSDPA 7.2
    • Touch Screen: 320 x 480, 3.0″, HVGA, 262K, TFT
    • Wi-Fi, Browser, Speaker Phone, External Memory (MicroSD up to 32GB (not included)), MP3, Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP, Video Recording, 3.5 Audio Jack, Document viewer, Organizer
    • Talk Time: Up to 5 h 30 min (2G) / Up to 7 h 20 min (3G). Stand-by Time: Up to 500 h (2G) / Up to 500 h (3G)

    For more information or to purchase an LG Optimus GT540smartphone, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly guide to smartphones.

    If you own an Apple laptop or know someone who does, you’ve seen the breakaway, magnetic connector for the power plug that plugs into the computer. It’s called MagSafe. That was inspired by similar cords used on deep fryers and similar hot appliances, so a passerby would pull the cord out of the appliance, not pull it (and it’s hot contents) off of the counter. It’s saved many a laptop.

    Stanley, the company known for it’s home improvement tools, now offers the “Safety Socket”, to allow any plug to now have that kind of safety. Now instead of pulling a cord off of a wall or worse, pulling a plugged in device off of a desk or counter, often injuring the person and damaging the device. They’re just now making their way into retailers, at about $20 each.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Durable Design 

    Other Features: The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX100V offers a huge touchscreen on the back, it covers the entire back of the camera, offering easy composition and focus, as well as a great way to view your images. Those images are shot on a very high resolution sensor, at 16.2 megapixels it’s one of the highest resolutions you can get in a camera that fits in your pocket. It shoots still photos in 2D or 3D, even 3D panoramic images using their “iSweep” panorama technology, where you literally sweep the camera across or up and down and it does all the work. It shoots full resolution pictures at up to 10 frames per second, capturing action almost as well as a professional DSLR.

    It shoots an impressive 60 frames per second in 1080p HD video, for great clarity when viewing on an HDTV and offering a chance to easily slow down the footage for highlight reels, etc.

    It has a few features, like “Background Defocus”, where it takes two images and combines them automatically to make your subject stand out from the background like they would in a larger camera, “Natural Flash”, where it shoots an image with and an image without the built-in flash and combines them. There are several settings like this, pretty amazing stuff. The camera can even warn you if someone blinked in the shot. “Smile Detection” takes this a step further, automatically shooting when it detects a smile. Great for shooting kids who move fast or don’t smile easily.

    I don’t know anyone over the age of 30 who doesn’t have wrinkles and blemishes. There’s a “Soft Skin” setting that helps smooth those out, in camera, so those 16 megapixels aren’t so hard on your, er, character. Nice to see this feature making its way into many cameras now.

    It’s available in black, silver and red.

    The TX100V isn’t a simple point-and-shoot, it’s a point-and-shoot for those who want the latest and greatest camera, with every feature imaginable, and aren’t afraid to pay for it.

    • 3.5-inch OLED Touch screen for easy focus selection and photo viewing
    • 1080/60p: preserve video moments in stunning clarity
    • 16.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor for stunning low-light performance
    • 3D still image and 3D Sweep Panorama: change the way you view your world
    • iSweep Panorama for one shot panoramic landscapes

    For more information or to purchase a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX100V, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Amplicom’s TCL 200 alarm clock

    Yesterday we told you about a post that appeared on the New York Times’ Gadgetwise blog about a particular manufacturer that made products for the hard of hearing that were targeted at, among others, the senior population.

    To make a long story short, the blogger said the line of cordless phones and alarm clocks was good, but that the supplemental instruction manuals were difficult to follow. He surmised that a device aimed at making things easier on the ears shouldn’t make things harder on the brain, in the form of confusing and difficult to follow instructions.

    We agreed with the blogger. We also noted that it pointed out a larger trend we’ve unfortunately seen a lot of lately: manufacturers creating useful products for seniors, but packaging them with impossible-to-follow instructions, thereby rendering the product useless.

    The company that caught the flak for this trend was Amplicom, and apparently our commentary was not lost on it. We received an email this morning from the president of Amplicom USA LLC, the American arm of this Germany-based company.

    He reached out to us to acknowledge and clear up some of the confusion surrounding the company’s products. Below is his response:

    In response to your recent post regarding our product review from the New York Times – Gadgetwise, we appreciate the constructive criticism regarding the instruction manuals. We are taking action immediately to provide our consumers with simpler and easier setup instructions. We are also in the process of providing more resources for product setup on our website, http://www.amplicomusa.com. In the meantime, if anyone has any questions or needs help setting up their product they can call our customer care line at 1-866-267-5426, Monday-Friday 9:30am-6:00pm EST.

    We commend Michael Abramowitz for contacting us and attempting to provide a temporary solution to this problem. We also implore you to take him up on his offer if you have purchased a product from the Amplicom line.

    In turn, we hope Mr. Abramowitz will notify us when revised versions of these instruction manuals are made available, so that we can pass this information onto you. In the meantime, however, we’d like to thank Amplicom for its contributions to the hard-of-hearing marketplace – which includes many seniors – and for acknowledging its shortcomings.

    As you may know, Amazon recently announced that it was adding a lending feature to its Kindle, which would allow readers to electronically “lend” their titles to friends for a period of time. The idea has been well received by Kindle aficionados, making one company take notice.

    It’s called EBookFling, and this site plans to take the idea of a little friendly lending to a whole ‘nother level. Instead of having to choose a title from your friends’ meager Kindle or Nook selections, EBookFling has created a platform where you can borrow a book from any Kindle or Nook user who registers on its site.

    Once registered, participants simply list the titles they’ve already read on their ereaders. Other members can search through these titles and, once a desired ebook is located, EBookFling will send an email to its owner that contains lending instructions.

    Every time you lend a book you receive a credit, which can be used to borrow someone else’s ebook. No word yet on how the initial lending period will work, since EBookFling hasn’t gotten off the ground quite yet. It’s currently registering subscribers, who can only submit their titles right now. According to officials, EBookFling is still about a month away from going live.

    One group that may stand in the way of its official launch is book publishers. These companies will inevitably be none too pleased with the idea of Kindle and Nook owners having free (though temporary) access to their ebooks. This could mean a significant drop in ebook sales.

    The LA Times also pointed out that cooperation from the publishing industry is essential for EBookFling to survive. This is because publishers have the final say on whether Amazon or Barnes & Noble can enable the lending feature on their titles.

    If EBookFling is successful, however, it could open up a slew of literary gems to a whole bunch of seniors, which we’re all for!

    Amplicom’s TCL 200 alarm clock

    All too often, we tech bloggers review a gadget-at-hand without bothering to analyze the device’s corresponding directions. This isn’t due to neglect or laziness, per se, but mostly because we want to see if a device is intuitive enough for a senior to assemble, install or use without any literary help.

    Well, a crafty blogger over at the New York Times’ Gadgetwise recently put the directions of one German manufacturer, which makes gadgets for the hard of hearing, under the spotlight. The company’s called Amplicom, and it has created a line of amplified cordless phones and alarm clocks that are designed with the elderly in mind.

    Gadgetwise liked the devices, but found the instruction manuals to be very…confusing at times. From the example it gave, we have to agree.

    Below is an excerpt from the Amplicom TCL200 alarm clock’s instruction manual, courtesy of the New York Times:

    There are two alarm period settings available. You can set one of three alarm periods for each setting (Monday to Friday, Monday to Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday). The alarm you set is repeated only on the days set for the selected alarm period.

    See what we/they mean by confusing? The point of this post is not to pick on Amplicom for its overly complicated rhetoric. Rather, it’s to highlight a great point that Gadgetwise focused on, the fact that plenty of devices can be useful to seniors, but their potential may never be realized if the instructions are too difficult to follow.

    So we implore you, manufacturers, to please spend as much time designing your instruction manuals and packaging as you do on your product’s senior-family function.

    Click here to read Gadgetwise’s full take on Amplicom’s instruction manuals.

    Parking at a mall – especially one in Los Angeles County – can be trying for anyone. First, you have the traffic, then you have the parking wars and, once you’re done with your shopping, you have to wage your own personal battle with your brain to remember where you won said parking war.

    It’s not very pretty – especially in Los Angeles County – which is why one mall is attempting to alleviate at least some of the stress associated with these visits. Santa Monica Place recently installed M3 Camera Vision, a system of high-resolution cameras from Park Assist that captures an image of your license plate when you park. It also installed a number of kiosks at the entrances to the parking garage that allow shoppers to type in their license plate numbers and locate their vehicles.

    First, the good news: seniors who have a hard time remembering where they parked will no longer have to stress about whether their car is on C4 or B3, as the kiosk can answer that for them. The bad news, however, is that you must know at least the first few digits of your license plate. This means that some seniors who have difficulties remembering where they parked, but also have difficulties recalling other minor details, like their license plate numbers, will be out of luck.

    Another major concern is the invasion of privacy. Numerous experts have pointed out that this type of system leaves many holes in security. For example, any jilted ex-lover, process server or even repo man could punch in the license plate number of their intended target and wait for them at their vehicles.

    What do you think, is the added convenience of quickly and easily locating your car worth the potential invasion of privacy?

    Senior Friendly Features: Ease of use , Easy to see , Easy to understand , Easy to hear 

    Other perks: Not everyone wants a full 6- or 8-speaker home theater set, some of us don’t have the room for it. Harmon Kardon takes this to heart and sets up a simple setup for a more full sound experience with only two speakers. The front soundbar plugs into your television and offers stereo sound that projects out to fill your room with all the mid- and high-range sound, and the subwoofer is wireless. You plug it into an outlet, even in a hidden corner, and you don’t even have to run wires to it.

    • Soundbar Includes two-way, dual-driver left and right soundbar speaker modules, each with two 3″ (75mm) midrange drivers and a 3/4″ (19mm)-dome tweeter, video-shielded
    • Wireless, 100-watt, powered subwoofer with a 10″ (250mm) driver in a ported enclosure
    • Soundbar amplifier power: 25W x 2 into 8 ohms, 20Hz – 20kHz, at <0.07% THD, with both channels driven simultaneously
    • 3-D Virtual Speaker surround mode that creates a complete surround-sound experience without any extra speakers or wires
    • Programmable soundbar that can obey your TV remote?s volume, power and source commands, enabling a single remote to control your whole home theatre system

    For more information or to purchase a Harmon Kardon SB16, visitAmazon.com.

    Since early 2009, Chinese citizens have been without access to various foreign websites, Facebook included. But the overly protective country could be loosening its clutches, as Bloomberg reports that China Mobile Ltd. Chariman Wang Jianzhou has discussed “the possibility of cooperation” with Facebook.  Wang recently spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and gave no further details on any opening in the Chinese firewall. Last month, the Chinese executive met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he visited the country. Zuckerberg’s trip was widely reported, and there was much speculation as to his motivation, but Zuckerberg has expressed sincere interest in breaking through China’s walled-off Web, asking “how can you connect the whole world if you leave out 1.6 billion people?” Well, maybe he can now – if he’s alright with some truly heavy-handed censorship from the Chinese government. Similar to the censorship Google encountered, and was not willing to agree to, Facebook is likely to be introduced only if it can accept the country’s extreme authority. But maybe it’s worth it: It was recently reported that China has 457 million internet users and shows no signs of slowing down, and that’s difficult for a globally dominant company like Facebook to ignore.

    China blocked Facebook and a host of other websites in 2009 following rioting. Rumbles of the situation becoming “the next Tiananmen” only encouraged the Chinese government to rid itself of outside influence. Within days, Facebook users in the country were met with a network error when trying to login. Li Zhi, the Communist Party’s Urumqi police chief reported at the time that the bans were meant to “quench the riots quickly and prevent violence from spreading to other places.”

    But Facebook treading beyond China’s great firewall doesn’t necessarily signal the country is relaxing its reigns – it quite possibly just means that Mark Zuckerberg is more willing to sell his soul to the highest bidder (even the communist kind).

    Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Durable Design 

    Other Features: The Fujifilm FinePix HS20 features a very high resolution, 16 megapixel sensor with an electronic viewfinder and an articulated LCD (makes high, low, and around-the-corner pictures much easier to frame). The viewfinder senses when your eye isn’t near the viewfinder and switches on the LCD on the back.

    It can shoot in raw or jpeg formats, making this a very versatile enthusiast camera. The SLR-type form factor and a multitude of controls make it a complex, yet powerful camera for when you don’t want to take a full digital SLR with all the lenses. The zoom lens offers a whopping 30x optical range, from 24 to 720mm equivalent.

    There are more different scene modes than you may ever find useful, including interesting ones for “Dog” and “Cat” in addition to less obscure settings like “Portrait” or “Night”. It offers so many controls, you may never take the same picture twice. There’s a “film simulation bracketing” mode, making your pictures look like they were shot on Provia, Velvia and Astia emulsions, if you remember shooting these films. There’s also bracketing for exposure and dynamic range.

    It can shoot sports or birds well, with the super-long 720mm, dual-axis image stabilization and up to 11 frames per second (drops the resolution to 8 megapixels, still plenty for page-sized prints). For panoramas, it offers a motion sweep for up to 360 degree horizontal or vertical panoramic images. It also shoots 1080p video.

    Not a camera for the technophobe, this one is for serious photographers that like almost everything in one camera. Kitchen sink not included.

    • 16-megapixel EXR-CMOS sensor; 30x wide-angle optical zoom lens
    • EXR processor and EXR-CMOS sensor deliver amazing pictures in fast-shooting and low-light situations
    • Capture up to 11 frames/second at 8-megapixel resolution
    • Full 1080p HD movie capture; mini-HDMI output
    • Capture images and video to SD/SDHC memory cards (not included)

    The Fujifilm FinePix HS20 is available on Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Senior Friendly Features: Comfort:  Sound Quality  Portability  Durability  Appearance  Easy to Use 

    Other Features: Expensive, but for those who want to enjoy every nuance of their music, this uncompromising set of earbuds offers an excellent listening experience. Quality down to where the wires attach, where they have special connectors to relieve strain.

    Monster Miles Davis Tribute Jazz In-Ear Headphones can be found onAmazon.com.

    Price Range: High

    • Technologically advanced driver for powerful full range sound
    • Special shaped housing
    • 24K gold contacts
    • Comes with Monster Supertip Eartips
    • Limited edition.
    • Audiophile-level components and performance in a lightweight, portable package
    • Superior full-range response with smooth, detailed midrange
    • Advanced driver and acoustic housings reproduce the “live experience”
    • SuperTip eartips for unprecedented performance and noise isolation
    • Each Tribute is a limited, numbered edition
    • Three luxurious and stylish cases to protect your investment
    • Includes special 2-CD Legacy Edition of Miles Davis’ classic 1959 recording, Kind Of Blue
    • Compatible with all portable media players
    • Industry leading Lifetime Warranty includes full one-time replacement
    Screen shot of new “Fire Department” app

    The San Ramon (California) Fire Department announced today that it was relaunching an app that’s been very close to its heart. It’s called, appropriately enough, the “Fire Department” app – and it aims to saves lives. The Fire Department app hopes to do this by alerting citizens who know how to perform CPR of nearby emergencies that have occurred in a public place.

    Allow ElderGadget to explain: Once you download the Fire Department app, it will ask if you would be willing to provide CPR or administer an automated external defibrillator shock  if an emergency should occur in your immediate vicinity. If you say yes, you will receive a push notification the next time 911 receives a call in your area. The Fire Department app can do this because it utilizes your phone’s GPS capabilities to identify how close you are to the emergency site. The app can also inform you if an automated external defibrillator is nearby.

    The app is currently only available to those who live in or near this San Francisco suburb, though San Ramon hopes other fire departments will adopt it in the future. Willing volunteers will only receive push notifications if the emergency occurs in a public place.

    According to the San Ramon Fire Department, response officials have only about a 10-minute window to reach a person experiencing a cardiac emergency before all hope is lost.  The department’s goal is to arrive within seven minutes, which the fire prevention chief says can be too close for comfort in some instances.

    Anywhere Abs, the latest “application” for Kindle

    As you may already know, the Kindle has many benefits. It’s lightweight, reasonably priced and sports e-ink technology, which makes it easy on the eyes. The one downside many Kindle critics have pointed out, however, is that the e-reader does not have access to a vast app store like the iPad and other tablets do.

    This, they argue, makes the Kindle a one-dimensional device, whereas with a tablet you could read an e-book and perform about a million other functions. Well, we’re not sure if the Kindle will be sporting a 100,000-app-plus store in the near future, but this e-reader has been attracting a lot of developer interest lately.

    For starters, there are now a few interactive workout titles available through the Kindle Bookstore. These include Anywhere Abs and the Best & Effective 26 Killer Core/Abs Exercises. Many game developers have also jumped on the Kindle bandwagon. Popular gaming titles include Match Genius, Choice of the Dragon, Scrabble, Monopoly, Solitaire, Slingo, Sudoku and even the New York Times’ Crossword Puzzles.

    Most of these “applications” boast pricetags that are similar to their App Store counterparts, starting at 99 cents and moving up to $5.99 or so. These new offerings, combined with the Kindle’s built-in Wifi and anti-glare display, could make it an attractive, cheaper alternative to tablets.

    What do you think? Is the Kindle on its way to becoming a tablet competitor?

    By Todd A. Peterson –

    Several years ago, I had to tell my mom and dad the reason they weren’t getting a picture while trying to watch a video was because they needed to turn the television on.

    Recently, a co-worker at a law firm where was working was having major trouble scanning a document to her computer.  I told her the reason she wasn’t able to scan the document was because she needed to turn on the scanner.

    While technology has changed, our inability to adapt to it hasn’t. While trying to troubleshoot the newest gadget, sometimes we forget the obvious. Just ask my friend Jason.

    He works for a computer repair center  in Honolulu and receives dozens of calls each day about how to get notebook computers or tablets to work. Many callers would be able to solve their issue if they used an ounce of common sense, he believes.

    So here are some basic tips to consider first before you pick up a phone to call your children for technical  support about your electronic gadgets.

    Read the manual – The manual usually has the answer you’re looking for. Manuals can be intimidating and hard to read, and often they are filled with small print and technical jargon of the kind that might make a theoretical physicist like Stephen Hawking proud. Yet in nine out of 10 situations, the answer is right there. That doesn’t mean you have to read the whole thing, as an index can point you to your problem. Most manuals include a summary, or a section right at the front that says “start here”  a short starter’s guide, that is concise and easier to read. It usually will take you less time to find the answer in the manual than to wait on hold for hours on a tech support hotline.

    Consult the Internet – If you’ve encountered a specific problem with your gadget, chances are someone else has too. They’ve also likely figured out the solution and posted the answer on the Internet. Just Googling your problem might help you find possible solutions.

    Reboot your gadget – The one thing that nearly all gadgets can’t do well is operate non-stop for long periods. Every time you start up a program or application, it uses system memory that’s not fully recovered until you completely shut off the device. So re-booting your gadget or computer — in other words, turning it completely off and then back on — can put your device in a fresh state. It’s not something you have do every time you run a new application, but you should do it every once in a while and especially after you install a new program or app.

    The ViewSonic VPAD7 ViewPad 7 7-Inch Android Tablet is a true power user’s tablet. With a high resolution screen that is bright and has high contrast, 600 MHz processor and WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, this tablet offers a lot of great features. It runs the full Android OS, including ALL of the apps, with front- and rear-facing cameras for pictures, videos, and video chatting.

    Product Features

    • ViewPad 7, 7″ Android 2.2 tablet with 802.11 b/g WLAN and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, High resolution 800×480, brightness 350 cd/m2 contract 500:1
    • Qualcomm MSM7227, 600MHz, 512MB DDR, 512MB NAND
    • Capacitive multi-touch with G-Sensor, E-compass & Ambient light sensor
    • Android Google Mobile Service (GMS) apps and Android Market over 100,000 apps, YouTube, Gmail, Voice search, GPS/A-GPS, Calendar, Documentation-To-Go & more
    • Auto focus COMS 3MP camera in the rear & 0.3MP front camera, E-reader format support ? TXT, HTML, EPUB & PDF
    • Modem: Wireless cellular modem
    • Size (LWH): 0.45 inches, 7.06 inches, 4.33 inches
    • Weight: 13.28 ounces
    • Rated Charge (normal use): 6 hours

    For more information or to purchase a ViewSonic VPAD7 ViewPad 7 7-Inch Android Tablet, visit Amazon.com.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Sound Quality

    Other Features: The new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc features all the connectivity you’d expect from an Android Smartphone, including WiFi, Bluetooth, aGPS, plus FM radio, an image-stabilized sensor for high resolution pictures and HD video.

    • Huge 4.2 “, diagonal screen with 854×480 pixels

    • Sony Mobile Bravia Engine

    • Android OS, including Adobe Flash 10.1

    • 8.1 Megapixel Camera

    • HD Movies

    • Super slim at 8.7mm

    • HDMI connector

    • Midnight Blue or Misty Silver

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Smartphones.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Durable Design 

    Other Features: The Samsung ST600 has a 3.5″ viewfinder on the back that takes up the entire back of the camera. A front-mounted LCD viewfinder is perfect for those who love making self-portraits, especially the arms-length ones.

    • 3.5″ LCD with touch screen and clear menus

    • Front LCD for very accurate self-portraits

    • 27mm (equivalent) wide angle with 5x optical zoom gives a large range

    • 14.2 megapixel CCD sensor captures detail that will allow for very large prints

    • Smart Auto analyzes the scene and makes decisions on how to best capture the image

    • Small size (4.1″x2.4″x.8″ and only 5.2 ounces) makes it easy to carry anywhere

    The Samsung ST600 is available on Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Notes – Very good contrast ratio, wide viewing angle, good size for a smaller room and plenty of inputs. Good price for the size and quality of picture.

  • 37-inch LCD HDTV with 720p HD resolution; IPS panel for excellent viewing from almost any angle
  • 18,000:1 contrast ratio; 24P Playback function for superb imagery from 24-frame movies on DVD
  • VIERA Image Viewer for JPEG image slideshows directly from an SD memory card
  • Inputs: 2 HDMI, 1 component, 2 composite, 1 PC, 1 digital audio output
  • Includes removable stand; measures 36 x 24.4 x 11.3 inches with stand
  • Display technology: LCD
  • Display Size: 37 inches
  • Image Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Weight 47 lbs.
  • For more information or to purchase a Panasonic TC-L37C22 37-Inch 720p LCD HDTV, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

    The IRS is jumping on the app bandwagon by creating an iPhone- and Android-compatible application that lets taxpayers check the status of their refunds. The app, called IRS2Go, is the first such offering from the IRS, which noted that it’s trying to fight its reputation as a not-so-tech-savvy government agency.

    In addition to checking your refund status, users can also sign up for daily tax tips. Those who file online can begin tracking their refund checks in as little as 72 hours. Those who file via snail mail may have to wait up to four weeks, however.

    Users should note that IRS2Go does not let you file your tax return through the app. Fortunately, those with simple returns can use Intuit’sSnapTax app.

    Big Names Sing iPad Praises

    by NELLIE DAY on JANUARY 24, 2011 · 0 COMMENTS

    The video below, courtesy of TechCrunch, could almost surely be an iPad commercial. It features celebrity endorsements, as well as a cornucopia of reasons why Apple and its iPad have revolutionized the tech industry.

    While the video is not, in fact, the iPad’s next commercial, it is fascinating to see so many big names tout the device’s wide-ranging appeal. The likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and even DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to speak about the iPad and Apple’s many successes as an acceptance speech of sorts when Apple was recently honored at TechCrunch’s “Crunchies” awards for its many innovations.

    Plenty of bloggers have pointed out that Apple has been less than gracious over the years when it comes to the Crunchies. Apparently the company is thoroughly recognized by the Crunchies every year, and every year Apple fails to send anyone to accept the awards. According to TechCrunch, this empty acceptance speech spot has typically been filled by “humor,” but with Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs announcing that he will be taking another medical leave the tech blog didn’t feel like poking fun this year.

    So instead, we get some glowing reviews of the iPad and Apple, courtesy of some A-list techies.

     

     

    BY:  Todd A. Peterson –

    This is one of those technology and legal stories that is hard to believe in this day and age. If you are in Illinois, you better be careful where you point your cameraphone or voice recorder. Chris Drew, a Chicago artist, and Tiawanda Moore, a former stripper, are facing up to 15 years in prison for eavesdropping, according to a story in the Chicago News Cooperative. Drew used an Olympus recorder to commit his crime and Moore used her Blackberry.

    Moore is scheduled to go on trial early next month for recording Internal Affairs investigators when she filed a sexual harassment complaint. Moore claims the investigators tried to get her to drop her complaint, so she took out her Blackberry and started a recording which resulted in her arrest. Drew goes on trial in April for recording his conversation with Chicago police officers, without their permission, when he was arrested for selling art without a permit. It’s just a misdemeanor to sell art with no permit, but the recorder is causing much bigger problems.

    Both are being charged under the rarely enforced Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which makes it illegal to audio-record either private or public conversations without the consent of all parties to the conversation. Illinois is one of 12 states with “two-party consent” laws on the books.  Most states and the federal government have one party consent, which means as long as one of the parties involved in the conversation is ok with it being recorded then all is well.

    A challenge to the Illinois law failed earlier this month when a US District Judge ruled there is no “right to audio record,” claiming it would be “an unprecedented expansion of the First Amendment.” That’s saying there is freedom of speech, but even in public, there isn’t freedom to record. That may come as a shock to millions of iPhone, and Smartphone users.

    Here’s the kicker, which got both Drew and Moore in deeper trouble, according to the story. Audio recording a civilian in Illinois is a felony with up to 3 years in prison the first time you do it and up to 5 years if you do it again. But the penalties are much more harsh if you record certain government officials.

    Audio-recording a law-enforcement officer, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general or judge in the performance of his or her duties is a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  This sort of thing smacks of a system of “ Built in corruption” and should be eliminated.

    Most states have an exception for civilians recording police conversations in public. But not Illinois.

    There is an exception in Illinois that allows law-enforcement officers to legally record civilians in private or public. But, not the other way around.

    Nowadays, nearly everyone is carrying around a camera and phone capable of making audio recordings. As Adam Schwartz, an ACLU lawyer who has challenged the law pointed out, when “something fishy seems to be going on, the perfectly natural and healthy and good thing is for them to pull that device out and make a recording.” You might think twice about making that recording if you are in Illinois. Unless of course you are a corrupt government official.

    For a more detailed look at this issue nationally, see this article from reason.com.

    Panasonic must have been pretty busy in 2010, because its offerings at CES this year were quite ample.

    This year marks the 10-year anniversary for Panasonic’s Lumix lineup of digital cameras. The company celebrated by introducing us to eight new compact models that, on the surface, can be quite difficult to distinguish between. Upon further examination, however, they can be broken down into four pairings.

    First, there are the S1 and S3, billed as a duo of affordable, easy-to-use, entry-level models. The main difference is that the S1 boasts 12.1 megapixels, while the S3 tops out at 14.1 megapixels. Both feature 2.7-inch LCD displays, 720p HD video recording and optical image stabilization, which are impressive specs at $110 and $120, respectively. The S1 comes in blue, black, gold, silver and pink. The S3 will be available in blue, black, red and violet.

    Next, we have the FH5 and FH2. Once again, these two are distinguished mostly by the maximum resolution of their sensors. The FH5 contains 16.1 megapixels, while the FH2 boasts 14.1. Both are approximately 20% slimmer than their previous counterparts, feature 2.7-inch LCDs, 720p HD recording and optical image stabilization. They also contain Panasonic’s new retractable 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with 4x zoom. Intelligent auto (IA) mode has also been incorporated into these models for “the ultimate ease of operation and the reduction of misshots.” The FH5 will come in black, gold, silver and violet. The FH2 will come in blue, black, pink and red.

    Moving on, we focus in on the FH25 and FH27, two 16.1 megapixel models with one big difference: the FH27 boasts a three-inch touchscreen LCD display that features focus, shutter and zoom controls among others, which free up space on the camera’s surface. Apart from that, both can capture 720p HD video, feature optical image stabilization, 8x optical zoom 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC lenses in a slim body. They’ve also been equipped with the aforementioned intelligent auto mode. The FH27 will come in black, silver and red. FH25 colors include black, red, silver, violet and blue.

    Finally we come to the FP5 and FP7, two ultra-slim, ultra-compact cameras featuring touchscreen displays. The FP7 sports a 16.1-megapixel sensor and 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen display, larger than the 14.1-megapixel FP5′s three-inch screen. As with all previously mentioned duos, these models will record 720p HD video and feature optical image stabilization. The FP7 features the unique, if not odd, “Beauty Retouch Function,” which makes it possible to virtually apply makeup, clear skin texture and whiten teeth all at the touch of a finger. The FP7 comes in red, black and blue. The FP5 is available in blue, black, pink and silver.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide To Digital Cameras.

    The next generation of the Kodak PlaySport video camera is among the many cool new gadgets we’ve seen at CES 2011.

    This year Kodak has added two new powerful, high-definition cameras to its award-winning lineup of pocket camcorders – the Kodak PlayFull and an update to its rugged PlaySport model, which was first introduced at last year’s CES.

    Mobile technologies designed to capture and interact with the world around you at a moment’s notice are an emerging theme. Kodak even boasts that the new PlaySport Zx5 is a video camera made for the fast-paced, moment-to-moment age of social networking.

    The PlaySport Zx5 records in full 1080p high-definition, captures 5 megapixel still shots, and in addition to its previous model’s waterproof capability at depths of up to 10 feet, the new PlaySport model is now dustproof and shockproof. It promises to come through the water, mud, sand, and inevitable bumps and bruises whether you’re out on a hiking trail or navigating a crowded birthday party.

    Sharing your adventures is now easier, too. You can take videos, stills, or extract single frames from your videos. Using the Kodak Share Button, you can easily e-mail your photos or upload them to popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr.

    Though it may be quite small, interested seniors will most assuredly appreciate the 2-inch LCD display’s improved Glare Shield feature, which will make the screen easier to see, especially in bright, sunny conditions.

    The Kodak PlaySport Zx5 is expected to available March 28 in black, red, green, white and aqua. It is currently being priced at $179.95.

    by : Todd A. Peterson –

    Providing аח independent аחԁ supposedly unbiased third party review οf companies аחԁ employees wһο serve senior citizens іח tһеіr homes, SeniorChecked һаѕ bееח released bу Silver Nation, LLC. The service started іח tһе Washington, DC market, soon to expand to all major US Markets, tο combat tһе rise іח elder abuse, financial exploitation аחԁ crimes against seniors.

    According tο tһе U.S. Office οf Consumer Affairs, fraud аחԁ financial exploitation takes іח аbουt $ 100 billion a year. Bу vetting аחԁ verifying businesses, tһе Web-based SeniorChecked wаѕ designed tο take tһе guesswork out οf selecting a trustworthy service provider fοr vulnerable seniors.

    Upon completion οf initial business recruitment efforts, tһе SeniorChecked directory οf businesses wіƖƖ bе available tο consumers free-οf-charge іח tһе Washington, DC metro area and then will be rolled out in all major city areas within the following six month period via tһе SeniorChecked Web site (http://www.seniorchecked.com) аחԁ toll-free telephone support center.

    Companies voluntarily submit applications tο bе SeniorChecked аחԁ аrе required tο һаνе employees wіtһ senior contact undergo thorough local аחԁ national background checks. Companies аrе reviewed іח four areas: Licensing, Insurance/Crime bond, Financial, аחԁ Criminal/Lawsuits.

    “Tһе reality іѕ, חοt еνеrу company tһаt submits іtѕ application wіƖƖ pass tһе stringent standards οf SeniorChecked,” boasts John E. Hansan, on the company website. John E. Hansan Ph.D., a published gerontologist аחԁ co-founder οf Silver Nation says, “Wе set tһе bar high bесаυѕе tһе senior citizens οf ουr country deserve tһе protection tһіѕ product provides. Tһе companies wһο step up аחԁ ɡеt SeniorChecked recognize tһе value οf tһіѕ product.”

    Iח addition tο tһе online directory provided tο seniors аחԁ tһеіr families, tһе individual employee wһο comes tο tһе home саח bе verified through tһе Web site οr toll free support center. Tһіѕ two-step process οf “finding аחԁ verifying” provides added assurance tο family members tο know tһе person coming іח tο һеƖр tһеіr parents һаѕ bееח thoroughly background checked.

    Pricing fοr аח individual company tο bе SeniorChecked ranges frοm $ 150 tο $ 195 a year depending οח tһе type οf business. Tһе background check fee іѕ $ 45 fοr service company employees.

    Dr. Hansan writes, “mοѕt background checks οחƖу review data іח tһе state іח wһісһ tһе employee currently resides іח. SeniorChecked involves a local аחԁ national screening οf 30 different databases аחԁ wіƖƖ ɡο back up tο seven years. Tһіѕ іѕ vital tο protecting ουr senior citizens аחԁ wе аrе proud tο offer tһе mοѕt comprehensive review available.”

    Tһе SeniorChecked application іѕ completed online οח tһе SeniorChecked Website http://www.seniorchecked.com. Customer Support Specialists аrе available bу toll-free phone (866) 675-7226 tο аחѕwеr qυеѕtіοחѕ frοm businesses аחԁ consumers.

    Silver Nation, LLC іѕ dedicated tο developing technology solutions tο serve аחԁ protect senior citizens аחԁ аѕѕіѕt tһеm іח living independently, safely аחԁ without fеаr. A privately held company tһаt believes “silver” іѕ tһе חеw “green,” Silver Nation іѕ based іח Bethesda, Maryland, Close to several of the most useful sources of background information available to the public and private sector.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Buttons  Easy-to-see Display  Easy To Use  Durable 

    Other features: There’s a high-intensity flashlight built in. There is a digital FM tuner so users can listen to the radio. The included headset allows for radio listening and hands-free talking. A large SOS button on the back can sound an alert and instantly call up to 5 programmed numbers and keep calling until there’s a response, along with a text message of “Emergency, please answer my call”.

    For more information or to purchase a Snapfon, visit Amazon.com.

    By: Todd A. Peterson – 

    Apple doesn’t want to let you inside your iPhone, even if all you want to do is change a battery.

    That’s what repair company iFixit claims, at least. The company recently discovered that Apple has quietly switched the screws in the latest shipments of the iPhone 4 from a basic Phillips head to a tamper-resistant screw that you can’t remove with any screwdriver you’d buy at any store.

    The screw in question is called a “Pentalobe” , a five-point head with a round shape resembling a daisy.  “They chose this ‘Pentalobe’ fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive,” said Kyle Wiens, iFixit’s CEO. “The iPhone 4 originally shipped with Phillips screws, but Apple has transitioned completely to this new security screw. Shame on them.” It’s not unusual for manufacturers to use obscure screws and strict software security on their products to prevent people from tampering with their devices.

    Sometimes tamper-resistance is designed for protecting company profits. In the case of software, Sony, for example, baked extra-strict security into the PlayStation 3’s operating system, which hackers recently infiltrated to install pirated software on the console. In a lawsuit, Sony asked a court to remove all traces of the PS3 hack from the internet, claiming it violated copyright law and would eat into PS3 game sales.

    And when it comes to odd screws keeping you out of hardware, it’s most likely to get you to buy new stuff sooner. On Apple products, obscure screws began showing up on the mid-2009 MacBook Pro to prevent you from removing and replacing the battery, according to iFixit, and it’s been a recurring trend ever since. In this context, Apple would rather you buy a brand-new MacBook Pro when its battery dies than simply purchase a new battery, Wiens suggests.

    Wiens added that if you own an iPhone 4 that came with Phillips screws and you take it to an Apple store for repair, Apple employees will replace the screws with the Pentalobular screws to prevent you from getting inside.

    “This move is a part of Apple’s strategic plan to increase the rate of obsolescence of their hardware,” Wiens said.

    If your iPhone is tainted with those funky  screws, you’re in luck: iFixit is selling the Pentalobular screwdriver for $10.  They plan to flood the market with the drivers, so people will have an alternative to taking their device to Apple.

    Illustration courtesy of iFixit

    Research In Motion is jumping into the tablet ring with their own tablet running their own OS. The Blackberry Playbook will be one of the few tablets not running Android, instead using the familiar Blackberry OS with all the Blackberry fans’ favorite features and apps. The Blackberry Playbook will come standard with 4G, the Blackberry OS installed supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTML 5 for very rich internet experience. It also plays nicely with Blackberry’s Enterprise Server, giving Blackberry users the great email features and experience the Blackberry is known for.

    The Playbook sports dual processors, front- and rear-facing cameras, full 1080p video support with HDMI output, micro USB port and more. Wifi, 3G and 4G options, Bluetooth 2.1 for any kind of wireless connectivity you may want. It will play well with your Blackberry phone, as well, syncing calendars, contacts, email and more.

    Battery life is expected to be between 6 and 10 hours. The Playbook is expected to be available in late Q1 2011.

    To close out 2010 and usher in a new year that will no doubt be full of crazy app trends, Apple recently counted down its most popular apps ever for the iPhone and iPad. In looking at the top apps that customers most eagerly download for free or for a small fee, some interesting trends emerge.

    We’ll flesh out those trends below.

    Top Free iPhone Apps

    • Facebook
    • Pandora
    • Google Mobile App
    • Shazam
    • Movies by Flixster
    • The Weather Channel
    • Google Earth
    • Bump
    • Skype
    • Paper Toss

    When it comes to free apps, connecting with others and exercising one’s choice in entertainment options seem to be priorities. Another apparent priority? Obtaining information quickly and easily, as evidenced by Google Mobile, Google Earth and the Weather Channel.

    Top Paid iPhone Apps

    • Doodle Jump
    • Tap Tap Revenge 3
    • Pocket God
    • Angry Birds
    • Tap Tap Revenge 2.6
    • Bejeweled 2 + Blitz
    • Traffic Rush
    • Tap Tap Revenge Classic
    • AppBox Pro Alarm
    • Flight Control

    For those who pay for iPhone apps, competition and fun must be on the top of their lists. This would explain why all but one of the top 10 paid apps is a game. The fact that iPhone users are more willing to pay for a gaming app than any other type of app may suggest that, as a whole, we believe these games add value to our phones. Maybe their clever characters or increasingly hard levels are addicting. Maybe they’re just so easy and tempting to pull out when you have a  moment to spare. Or maybe many people consider these games more entertaining than, say, surfing the web or reading a book on an e-reader app.

    Top Free iPad Apps

    • Pandora
    • Google Mobile App
    • Movies by Flixster
    • Google Earth
    • Yelp
    • Fandango Movies
    • Remote
    • iBooks
    • Bible
    • Solitaire

    Entertainment and media are the categories that once again reign supreme for app-lovers when it comes to the iPad. This list, however, is a bit more diversified. It includes radio, movie and e-reader apps, along with an app that can turn your iPad into an iTunes or Apple TV remote control.

    Top Paid iPad Apps

    • SoundHound
    • StickWars
    • FlightTrack
    • Backbreaker Football
    • Calorie Tracker
    • BlocksClassic
    • iFart Mobile
    • GoodReader for iPad
    • Cro-Mag Rally
    • Ambiance

    Games are also the top apps iPad users are willing to shell out money for. However, a few outcasts also made the top cut. These include a noise ambience app, an e-reader app, an app that can help you manage your weight…and an app that makes fart noises. Your grandchildren’s generation is doomed, seniors.

    The new Nintendo 3DS, courtesy of Nintendo

    Nintendo had a huge hit with its DS line, a series of handheld gaming devices that included the Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DS Lite and the Nintendo DSi LL. The main differences between the three consoles were their sizes.

    The gaming giant’s newest iteration of the DS series, however, boasts a significant difference that sets it apart from the pack. It’s called the Nintendo 3DS – and it can show 3D graphics on its 3.53-inch widescreen LCD display.

    Coming off of CES, it’s evident that glasses-free 3D is definitely the new trend, and Nintendo has made its mark with the Nintendo 3DS, which was unveiled yesterday. In addition to 3D gaming, Nintendo says the 3DS can also take 3D photos. The device contains two display screens, three cameras and a slider feature that lets gamers turn the 3D function on or off.

    Early reviews of the system are mixed. Some are lauding the 3D effects that accompany many of Nintendo’s fighting games, while others note that its 3D capabilities compel you to physically move around even though the 3D function works best when standing still.

    So far, none of ElderGadget’s favorite Nintendo DS games are available on the new 3DS system, which begins selling on March 27 for the extremely reasonable price of $250. That doesn’t mean 3D versions won’t be released, however, once the drop date approaches.

    ElderGadget’s also been vocal about its support of Nintendo’s largest DS model, the DSi LL. This is mostly due to the DSi LL’s amplified size. The bigger stylus, screen and graphics make it more senior-friendly for those with poor eyesight or limited dexterity. We’ll let you know how the 3DS fares next to the DSi LL once we get our hands on it.

    The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is more than a point-and-shoot, but not an SLR. It’s an enthusiast camera, offering as much or as little automation as you want. It looks like a rangefinder of years past, and much like the most famous of those, carries the Leica name (at least on the lens).

    It has a 10.1 megapixel CCD sensor for very high resolution pictures. At the wide end of the Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens it is the equivalent of a 24mm lens (wide for this class), with a very wide f/2.0 maximum aperture (great for low light). It zooms 3.8x, to around 90mm equivalent. It’s image stabilized for sharper, more stable pictures even in low light or after your third cup of coffee. The big 3-inch LCD on the back makes composition very easy, and it will shoot HD video as well, with Dolby-enhanced stereo sound.

    The hot shoe on top will not only take accessory flash, there is an optional electronic viewfinder that allows you to use it more like an SLR if you prefer, it rests on the hot shoe and plugs into a special port on the back of the camera. There is also an accessory lens that mounts on the front that gives you the equivalent of a VERY wide 20mm lens.

    There’s even a useful pop-up flash for those times when you don’t want to carry around extra accessories.

    We played with one of these things briefly at CES, it handles very well, feels good in your hand and just looks great. Controls are easy and the camera is responsive. Image quality looked superb. It weighs 9.6 ounces, a touch over a half a pound, so you know it’s there. Leica lenses always make us drool, and add in Dolby sound and the overall performance and though it’s not cheap, this is a lot of camera for the money.

    For more information or to buy a Panasonic Lumix LX5 camera, visitAmazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide To Digital Cameras.

    E-readers are ideal reading devices when you’re on the move because they’re thin, lightweight and easy to transport. The only problem is you can become so distracted by a riveting book or article that you lose all sense of reality, thereby tripping on a raised curb or smacking into a utility pole.

    Even if you haven’t had a hugely embarrassing fall, chances are you’ve probably caused another pedestrian to alter his route to avoid a collision as you stare at your smartphone.

    Well, an app called MegaReader has married e-reading with augmented reality to create a program that lets you see where you’re going as you read. MegaReader calls this function a “Head’s Up Display,” which allows your Galaxy S or iPhone to display an e-book against a backdrop of reality.

    While the Head’s Up Display feature is too new to say whether it’s actually saving lives – or, at the very least, dignities – the premise is definitely a unique one. Could we become better multitaskers if we never had to take our eyes off the road while reading? Who knows, but for seniors who are easily distracted, this app could make accidents a little less likely.

    Click below for a demonstration of MegaReader’s new Head’s Up Display function.

    Starbucks announced today that customers can now pay for their coffee by showing their smartphones. Blackberry and iPhone owners can download an app that can be linked to their Starbucks Card accounts via a barcode. Once the coffee’s ordered, patrons need only access the app, which will pull up the barcode to be scanned by the barista.

    This app came at just the right time for Starbucks. Its “brand loyalty chief” recently noted that one in five Starbucks purchases is made with a Starbucks Card. The company initially launched the mobile payment system a year ago, beginning with 1,000 Starbucks located within Target stores. The pilot program was successful, and eventually expanded to free-standing Starbucks on both coasts.

    Starbucks Cards must still be purchased from physical locations, but the app will allow iPhone and Blackberry users to check their balances, load money onto the card and review past transactions. Android users, don’t fret, Starbucks is hard at work developing an app for your operating system!

    Large LCD Screen  Simple Interface Ergonomically Friendly Controls  Lightweight  Color Viewfinder 

    Other features: Kodak introduced the Playful camera, a pocket-sized camcorder that shoots full 1080p video and has a built-in switchblade-style USB connector for really easy transfer of videos to a computer. The controls are simple and easy to see. It offers easy ways to upload video to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It offers fun effects, from face tracking to 70s film looks to sepia or black & white.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Camcorders.

    Motorola’s new Xoom is one of the new dual-core (two separate processors on one chip, for multi-processing and overall faster performance) tablets that will debut on Verizon’s network early this year running the newly designed Android 3.0. Android’s new operating system, version 3.0, is codenamed “Honeycomb” and is designed exclusively for tablets.

    The Xoom features both front- and rear-facing cameras, a 10.1 inch 1280×800 display at 150 pixels per inch, with multi-touch “pinch to zoom” navigation, and will be able to play back HD movies at 1080p. The rear-facing camera can record 5 megapixel stills and 720p video. There’s an HDMI out port for viewing video on an HDTV. There’s a Micro-USB port for charging and computer connectivity and bluetooth 2.1.

    1 GB of on-board RAM and a 1GHz processor mean this thing has a lot of power. There is 32GB of built-in storage, and when the Xoom launches it will also offer an SD card slot for additional storage. The promised battery life is an industry-leading 10 hours of video playback, meaning anything else should go even longer.

    The rear-facing camera has a dual LED “flash” light, and the front-facing camera, perfect for video chatting, is 2 megapixels.

    The Xoom will launch in Q1 2011 with WiFi and 3G connectivity, and will be upgradeable to 4G LTE in Q2.

    BY:  Todd A. Peterson –

    Young kids are learning how to play video games and work smartphones before they can bike or even tie their shoelaces, according to a new study.

    Though I’m fairly sure I learned to play Super Mario Bros. before I learned to ride a bike without training wheels, it appears my childhood was ahead of the curve. According to a study by AVG, young children are more into technology than some basic life skills. In a poll of 2,200 mothers with Internet access and children between 2 and 5 years old, more children knew how to play video games (58 percent) than knew how to ride a bike (43 percent). If riding a bike seems too hard, how about this: more kids know how to play with a smartphone app (19 percent) than tie their own shoelaces (9 percent) or make breakfast.

    The study showed that more young children can open a Web Browser (25 percent) than swim unaided (20 percent). There is no gender divide either: boys and girls ranked equally in their skills at playing computer games (58 percent boys, 59 percent girls) and making mobile phone calls (28 percent boys, 29 percent girls). The only divide came when comparing U.S. children to other countries. For example, 67 percent of U.S. kids age 2-5 can operate a computer mouse while more than 78 percent of young French children are capable of the same act. The same goes when comparing other activities like mobile phone calling and playing video games. Some countries have the U.S. handily beat, though no complete statistics were shared.

    It seems younger mothers may be putting a greater focus on technology.  The study shows that children with mothers age 35 or older tend to be better at most life skills like writing their own name. Young ones with mothers 34 or under tend to rank higher in tech skills.

    This study is a part of AVG’s efforts to show how important early tech education is for children. In October, the company released its first batch of information, showing that many babies have online Facebook and other profiles by the time they are six months old.

    If these findings are true, I blame the robots. To our readers who have kids: did your children learn tech skills faster than some important life skills? Do you put a bigger emphasis on learning technology?

    Gorilla Glass’ logo

    Touchscreens are one of the hottest trends today, but what happens if your screen cracks, shatters or falls off? Well, for starters, the device could be rendered useless. Corning Inc.’s Gorilla Glass is hoping to change that, however, with its lightweight, yet durable glass.

    According to Corning, Gorilla Glass is made of “environmentally friendly alkali-aluminosilicate thin-sheet glass.” We don’t know exactly what that means, but thankfully Corning also tells us what Gorilla Glass does. It’s a thin, damage-resistant, touchscreen-compatible surface that’s easy to clean and exceptionally clear.

    Gorilla Glass is most commonly used on smartphones, slates, tablets and televisions, all of which are expensive electronics that can be ruined by screen damage. So far, a number of well-known companies and devices are sporting Gorilla Glass finishes. They include Motorola, Samsung, Dell, LG, Acer and Sony.

    Creating a more durable touchscreen can be a great benefit to seniors, especially those who feel they are too heavy handed or clumsy for expensive smartphones or tablets. While Gorilla Glass may not be able to guarantee that your gadget will survive any fall or bump, it should provide a bit of a cushion for minor mishaps.

    Click below to see a Gorilla Glass demonstration at CES, courtesy of the LA Times.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Light weight  Screen Resolution  Battery Life  Durable Design 

    Other Features: The Samsung PC 7 runs Windows 7 Home Premium, making it a very full-featured Windows Netbook that can be used as a tablet. The screen slides up to reveal a full keyboard and trackpad. The battery is said to last up to 9 hours, rated as such because of the energy-saving features. It’s pretty heavy for a tablet, but the full keyboard makes it very useful as both.

    We all know we have to be cautious with our electronics. After all, they’re expensive, delicate devices. But a few experts have emerged to raise the red flag about our financial privacy on smartphones. They’re from groups like the Identity Theft Resource Center and TowerGroup, a financial services research firm, and they recently told CNN Money about the dangers of conducting transactions on your smartphone.

    Among their chief concerns were online banking, mobile payments and data storage apps that may lead thieves right to your critical information. For example, many online retailers allow you to store your credit card information in their apps. This makes the check-out process easier for you, but also for someone who’s just stumbled upon your phone. Some apps, like mFoundry, can also keep gift card bar codes on file, allowing a stranger to drain your accounts if they’ve got your phone.

    While seniors don’t need to abstain from using their smartphones for purchases or banking, they should be careful. Whether you have a problem misplacing items or not, you want to make it a habit to not just lock your phone, but also protect it with a hard-to-guess password.

    Experts say not to stop here, however. They also advise smartphone users to purchase anti-virus software, as well as a service that will wipe out your phone’s data should it go missing.

    The Identity Theft Resource Center further recommends that online bankers be extra diligent when logging into their accounts from the company’s website, instead of from an app. This is because it’s easy to slightly misspell a company’s URL while typing on such a tiny keypad or while multitasking. The problem with this, however, is that oftentimes professional thieves have created websites that look similar to those of the legitimate banks, making it easy for them to steal your account passwords once you “log in” to their sites.

    Click here for more tips on smartphone safety and security.

    Senior Friendly Features: Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls:  Simplicity:  Durable Design 

    Other Features: The Polaroid PIC-300L takes us back to a simpler time, with the excitement of seeing pictures instantly revolved around one brand, Polaroid. The PIC-300L may not roll off the tongue like the old “Fun Step” camera of decades past, but the big, easy-to-hold design is lightweight, the “film” cartridges are easy to insert and the portrait-format images (like an old square-ish Polaroid cut vertically in half) that pop out of the top make this camera just plain fun.

    For more information or to purchase a Polaroid PIC-300L, visit Amazon.com.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large LCD Screen:  Easy to Feel Controls:  Easy to See Controls: Simplicity:  Durable Design 

    Other Features: The Sharp Galapagos tablets are available in a small, 5.5″ size as well as an industry-leading 10.8-inch size. Currently it is running Linux and some proprietary Sharp software, but it may have Android by the time it reaches US sales outlets. The tablets, new Sharp smartphone under the Galapagos name, and some Sharp televisions will have the technology to “flick” content between devices. If you’re watching a movie on your tablet and walk in your front door, you’ll be able to literally flick the image on the screen to the television and continue watching.

    A new study suggests video game addiction increases mental issues in children.  Could this be just another tactic to take on gaming in general?


    According to a two-year study, video games can be bad for your mental health. Reuters is reporting that more than 3,000 school-age children were surveyed, and that one in ten could be classified as a video game addict. The study admits that these children were already prone to behavioral issues, but purports that video games intensified them.

    Douglas A. Gentile of the Iowa State University Media Research Lab worked on the study. “When children became addicted, their depression, anxiety, and social phobias got worse, and their grades dropped,” Gentile says. “When they stopped being addicted, their depression, anxiety, and social phobias got better.”

    The notion that video games are best in moderation is less than enlightening, but the amount of children the study determined that were “addicted” or “pathological” gamers has given new fuel to a debate in the medical community. There has recently been question over whether or not “pathological” or “addictive” video gaming should be recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. In 2005, the American Medical Association rejected formalizing video game addiction as a mental disorder. Gentile claims parents and healthcare providers have taken a backseat approach to this problem, and enough isn’t being done to combat it.

    Richard Taylor of the Entertainment Software Association believes this is simply a personal crusade against gaming. “We commend credibly, independent, and verifiable research about computer and video games. However, this research is just more of the same questionable findings by the same author [Gentile] in his campaign against video games,” Taylor told TG Daily. Gentile did indeed admit his study wasn’t without its flaws, and that the study participants were not randomly chosen.

    In an e-mail to Gamasutra, Gentile defends himself as a gamer, as well as the notion that games are “powerful, and that they can have many effects.” He claims his purpose is to create more awareness about their affects, so that “families can maximize the benefits while minimizing the harms.”

    In 2009, Gentile conducted a study that labeled eight percent of its participants pathological gamers and in 2003, researched gaming’s effects on academic performance.

    Canon’s S95 digital camera is essentially the Powershot G12, without the hotshoe on the top, the ability of the LCD to articulate, and the bulk. The 10.1 megapixel sensor is identical, even down to the ability to capture 720p HD video with stereo sound. The 3-inch LCD on the back is huge, at least as big as it can be on the camera. Big and bright.

    The S95 has amazing automatic features, controlling everything if you want it to. It can also be set on as much manual control as you want, allowing you to override the automatic controls and shoot with manual shutter speed, aperture, ISO and more. The built-in flash works well for dark situations or as a fill-in flash.  The S95′s f/2.0 (variable aperture) lens is actually faster than the one on the G12, giving it potentially better low-light performance. The modern sensor already has very low noise. There’s built-in Image Stabilization, Canon’s legendary IS. The 3.8x zoom starts at an equivalent 28mm.

    There’s a USB port for easy transfer of your images and an HDMI port so you can view your videos directly on your HDTV. Storage uses optional SD/HC/XC cards. The “Creative Control Ring” on the front, surrounding the lens bezel, allows familiar control of your images. The menus have been set up to be easy and intuitive for all the controls.

    For all these features, especially the manual controls, this is a pocket-sized camera that has everything. If you want a simple point-and-shoot camera that you can shoot in automatic only, this isn’t likely the camera for you. It’s overkill, like buying a Ferrari to go pick up your groceries at the local market.

    For more information, or to purchase the Canon Powershot S95, visitAmazon.com.

    Read our Senior Friendly Guide To Digital Cameras.


    If your tax-filing process is easy and fairly straightforward, then Intuit’s TurboTax SnapTax program could be the thing for you. SnapTax is a smartphone application that’s available to most iPhone and Android users, so long as their operating software is up to date.

    Users simply download the SnapTax app from either the App Store or SnapTax.com. You then snap a photo of your W-2 form and electronically fill out and file your federal 1040-EZ form, as well as your state tax return form. Though the app’s free to download, it will cost $14.99 to file your taxes electronically via SnapTax.

    The only problem, however, is that you must be filing a 1040-EZ form for SnapTax to work. Intuit notes that, along with income earners, those filing a 1099-INT, which calculates interest earned on investments, as well as those receiving unemployment, qualify for the 1040-EZ form.

    Intuit suggests using the SnapTax app with either the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 while running the 4.1 version of iOS. Android users should use version 2.1 of the Android operating system.

    Comedian Ronnie Corbett has a complaint, “My blackberry isn’t working!”

    When it comes to BBC comedy, no one is safe. Just ask Blackberry, Apple and, yes, even Xbox. This latest popular parody is courtesy of the show “The One Ronnie,” a sketch comedy show starring the 80-year-old British comedian Ronnie Corbett.

    In this skit, Corbett returns to a store to complain that his blackberry isn’t working. The main problem? It’s frozen. However, if you’re picturing a white Blackberry screen with that oh-so-annoying hourglass spinning round and round, you’re mistaken. Corbett’s actually there to return a real-life, frozen blackberry.

    And while he’s at it, he’s got a problem with his apple as well. It seems his dongle (tech-speak for a device that attaches to a computer or smartphone, though we suspect Corbett has other ideas of what a dongle is) won’t fit in it.

    What ensues is a nearly three-minute supermarket skit where real produce, such as blackberries and apples, parody their tech equivalents. Seniors will most surely get a kick out of seeing one of the great comics of their generation take on the tech world.

    One note: the orange is a reference to the telecommunications company Orange, which provides Internet and smartphone service throughout the United Kingdom.

    Are you one of those people who need a personal chauffer due to texting while driving? Or know someone who does?  You might have been among the people who groaned and griped when laws that attempted to eliminate automobile crashes as a result of distracted driving started being passed all over the country. Those rules are scattered and still controversial, and some studies claim to show they have been ineffective in reducing the number of crashes. But it’s hard to quantify what might have been. For some people, the threat of a ticket is enough to keep them from uploading a photo to Facebook while on their morning commute, or texting a friend instead of using their hands-free earpiece to talk on their mobile phones. So if a hands-free law helps prevent a crash or two, it might be tough to get too outraged about it.

    Most recently it was in the news that legislators are considering similar rules prohibiting the use of iPods and mobile phones while crossing the street (New York), banning texting while biking (California), or restricting a bicyclists’ use of a mobile phone and other electronic devices (Oregon). The actions come amid a rise in pedestrian accidents, says the New York Times, who quoted a woman who was opposed to the proposed new rules: “At some point, we need to take responsibility for our own stupidity,” she said. Well, that’s true. And most of us might think that way and be careful as a result. But how do we hold people accountable for causing an accident and harming others when they might point to the fact that they had a right to stick their earphones in both ears and wander the streets, oblivious to sirens and honking horns? Those who might be looking down playing Angry Birds instead of hearing the chirping of the birds? It’s possible that threats of fines, large or small, could help people at least examine their behavior. The legislators are undoubtedly getting an earful about their proposed legislation.  Some places in Europe have taken it a step farther and totally banned smoking, or drinking beverages while driving.  It seems that they seem to think that when you are driving, you should actually just be driving. “What a novel concept!”

    In related news, technological advances in cars are also getting the attention of those concerned about distracted driving. NPR reports that the transportation secretary, appropriately named Ray LaHood, was in Detroit Tuesday to talk with Ford’s CEO about, among other things, distracted driving. With the advent of “infotainment systems” in cars — see some of the many offerings as described by Larry Dignan at ZDNet — some are worried about whether we’re approaching our multitasking limits. For example, says the NPR report, the OnStar system by General Motors may soon let drivers update their Facebook pages from their cars. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of action the state governments may take, regarding the ever increasing gadgetry that’s built into our vehicles.

    In a week that’s fresh from CES, with all of the cool new goodies, gadgets and technologies we’ve seen, we have to have a top five list that reflects the things we’ve covered so far. Click on the name of the item to open our review of that item.

    Don’t be shy, if you think something else from last week should have been included, leave a comment. If you love the list, leave a comment. Let us know you’ve been here!

    Without further ado, here’s the list:

    1.Panasonic Viera Connect HDTV with NordicTrack Treadmill

    2.Polaroid GL20 Sunglasses

    3.Sony Bloggie 3D Video Camera

    4.HTC Droid Incredible Smartphone

    5.Coby Kyros Tablets

    Durable  Adjustable Nose Pads  Scratch-Resistant Coating  Photochromic Lenses Large LCD Screen [4.5] Easy to Feel Controls  Easy to See Controls  Simplicity  Viewfinder 

    Other Features: Lady Gaga herself designed these sunglasses, but you’d think that they were codesigned by Q from the James Bond films, with not only a hidden 5 megapixel camera inside, but a 1.5″ OLED in front of each eye for setting up the shot and reviewing. Those screens are see-through, and make it look like a very large screen in front of you for easy viewing. The shutter release is discreetly hidden in the temple. Images are stored on an SD card in a slot in the glasses, and images can be transferred to your computer via USB or even Bluetooth.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Digital Cameras.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Eyeglasses.


    By REUTERS NEWS

    Online Dating

    The number of seniors using the internet has risen to 17.5 million in November 2009, according to Nielsen data. (Shutterstock)

    NEW YORK – Jo Ann Montrose-Eichelberger, 55, never thought she would meet her second husband on an online dating site — especially not one for seniors.

    The stewardess who lives in California said she signed up “as a joke” in March 2009. She had been divorced for about 18 years and was content being single, but an ad for the site sparked her curiosity.

    At first she felt uncomfortable about even putting up her photograph.  “It felt like I was marketing myself. It was all new to me. At the time, I hadn’t even gone on Facebook,” she said.  The number of seniors — classified as anyone over 55 — using the targeted dating site is growing, according to Seniorpeoplemeet.com, which says they attract 1,000 new members a day.  “The norms are changing for seniors meeting online,” said Oakland University professor Terri Orbuch. “Now technology is becoming more central to our lives it is becoming more acceptable.”  The number of seniors using the internet has risen to 17.5 million in November 2009 from 11.3 million in November 2004, according to Nielsen data.

    Because she didn’t take the idea of online dating seriously, Montrose-Eichelberger said, she made her profile “brutally honest”.  People who needed anti-depressants to deal with life shouldn’t bother contacting her, she wrote on her profile.

    The first people who reached out to Montrose-Eichelberger were terrible, she said, as they were barely able to spell or string sentences together.  Which is why when she came across Brian Eichelberger, 57, she was taken by the fact he was a good writer and that he had held the same job, as a correctional officer, for two decades.

    “For the over-50s, attitudes, values and stability are much more important than for 20-somethings,” Orbuch said.  Seniors are more likely to have had a long-term, significant relationship in their past, Orbuch said, which affects the way they approach online dating.

    They’ll often know exactly what they are looking for, she added, and put a lot of value on spending time together.  Montrose-Eichelberger said that even when they are in different cities, she and her husband play online Scrabble together.  “We make it a date night no matter where we are,” she said.

    A poll conducted by the dating website found 54% of people would rather spend time with their partner than get flowers or jewelry on Valentine’s Day — an 80% increase in priority from when they were in their 20s or 30s Though big, romantic gestures do play their part.

    For their first date in the spring of 2009, Eichelberger, who lived in Fresno, California drove 2-1/2 hours to Malibu to take Montrose-Eichelberger out for lunch.  “I was surprised he would drive all that way just to have lunch with me,” she said. “I was also a bit nervous. I’d never used a dating site before. So I made him some cookies to show I appreciated the effort.”

    They married a year later.

    Large LCD Screen  Simple Interface Ergonomically Friendly Controls  Lightweight  Optical Image Stabilization  Color Viewfinder 

    Other features: This camera can shoot in HD both in 2D and 3D. The lenticular screen on the back allows you to see the 3D video without glasses. Some complain it’s a little small and dark. The interface is a few buttons and very easy to use, there’s a built-in USB connector for very easy transfer of videos to your computer and an HDMI outlet so you can view videos on an HDTV. It even shoots 5 megapixel still photos. This is currently the least expensive 3D consumer camcorder.

    For more information or to purchase the Sony Bloggie 3D when it’s available, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior-Friendly Guide to Camcorders.

    For more video visit EGTV.

    For more video visit EGTV.

    For more video visit EGTV.

    For more video visit EGTV.

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Notes – The VIZIO E320VA exceeds Energy Star 4.1 standards, making this TV one of the most efficient in its class. The dual speakers also produce clear and loud sounds.
    For more information or to purchase a Vizio E320VA 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Features of Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

    CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas features the absolute newest technologies, sometimes in prototype form and sometimes just as the products are being released. Sometimes they’re following a trend, sometimes starting one. Here are our top five new gadgets/technologies from CES this year:

    1. Sony Bloggie 3D

    Several companies, from Including JVC, Panasonic and Canon had consumer 3D video cameras. They were battling for full features and expected higher-end pricing. Then there was Sony with the newest Bloggie camera. The Bloggie 3D is a tiny camcorder from Sony. It has dual lenses, so it can record in 3D or full HD 2D, plus 5.1 megapixel still photos. 3D content can be shown directly on any 3D capable HDTV via an HDMI connection. There are several companies with consumer 3D video cameras, but the Bloggie is by far the smallest and lightest. It will be available in April, 2011.

    2. TCL Gesture Control


    First there were controls like the Nintendo Wii, which offered wireless controllers that sensed where they were in 3D space in the real world to allow you to control a video game. Then came Microsoft’s Kinect, allowing video game controls using your body. TCL showed a prototype of gesture-controlled televisions that simply uses your body to control your TV instead of using a multi-button remote. You certainly won’t lose THIS remote!

    3. Polaroid GL20 Sunglasses with built-in camera and viewing screens

    If you want a very stylish pair of sunglasses that also has a 5 megapixel camera built in, the Polaroid GL20 sunglasses are worth a look. Oh, did we mention they were designed by Lady Gaga herself? And that not only can you shoot photos with them, there is a 1.5″ OLED display inside each side that can show you the images. INSIDE the glasses! The images are stored on an SD card and there’s a discreet shutter release button on one side. It can transfer images to your computer via USB or bluetooth. You can look like a glamorous spy from a Bond film and even have one of the cool spy-like toys.

    4. Sharp Galapagos

    The ability to transfer content between devices isn’t new, but Sharp’s new Galapagos tablets and smartphone, available this year, offered a truly unique version with control unlike anything we’d seen. When in proximity of another one of their tablets, phones, or televisions, you could instantly transfer content. If you were watching a movie on one of their tablets (5.5″ or the largest one yet, at 10.8″) and walked into the room with your Sharp television, you could literally flick the movie over to your television and continue watching. This ability to seemlessly, easily and quickly share content between devices is where everything is headed.

    5. Blackberry Playbook

    Tablets are all the rage, and this year almost every company had one. Whereas the iPad kicked off the trend with one size, some companies had two or three sizes. Most run Android, many will run Android 3.0 when it comes out. Those who live and die with their Blackberry were left out. That is, until now. The Blackberry Playbook tablet, running all the Blackberry services and apps you’ve come to expect, debuted at CES, and it is stunning.

    How many different devices, appliances, and gadgets do you use in a day? And how many different ways of doing things have you had to learn? Each device has its own set of buttons, its own individually designed interface, and its own way of doing things. Even worse, you had to learn to use them all, one at a time. Makes you dread getting anything new, doesn’t it?

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have one type of interface to learn that would control most of the technology in your life? If this is your wish, it’s starting to come true. One of the most notable things about this year’s CES was all of the convergence of all different types of technologies. Devices and apps coming together, making them all easier to learn and use.

    The manufacturers are all starting to create devices that work in unison; making phones, tablets, televisions, computers and more talk to each other and share content. They all have different hardware, but the same interface. That interface, driven by familiar apps, makes it easy because you no longer have to learn a proprietary set of buttons or a whole new application to be able to use a device.

    Seniors who ask “Why would I want to use a tablet?”, when they’ve lived this long without one, might watch a lot of television. In using the new television technology, they’ll already know the interface so a tablet or smartphone becomes very simple and easy to use. They already understand it, there’s nothing new to learn. It’s about leveraging what you already know and understand and applying that to new technologies, not learning something from scratch every time.

    There are many devices now and that are coming in the near future that also use these devices for the interface. There are not only apps that serve as an easy-to-use remote control for your television and home theater, there are alarm clocks, blood pressure monitors and other appliances that can use, for example, an iPhone to control them and remember favorite settings, stats and information. If you already understand the iPhone/iPad’s iOS or the Android OS, using those devices is simple and easy.

    Even cooking can be made simpler, Fulton Innovations showed a cooktop that was simply a point on a formica countertop. A special pot with its own heating element is placed on that point, where it receives power. It knows, via a tablet, what is being cooked (from a recipe), so it heats the pan to the right temperature, then it can tell you when to add, for example, the pasta to boiling water, when to take it off, when to add sauce. Even automatically shut off. And this stuff isn’t way in the future, it’s coming this year.

    This is all geared toward making life easier and actually simpler. TCL took the device controller out and showed a prototype of gesture control, using just your hands and arms to navigate through menus on the screen to find programs and more. It takes what Microsoft’s Kinect is doing for gaming and applying it to controlling all of your devices.

    Toshiba demonstrated a television and Blu-ray player that were voice controlled. Ford showed off it’s newest version of “Sync” technology, with voice activated radio, controls for phone, even things like texting all by voice. Eventually this is where the technology is going. With the voice controls already on devices like the Android phones (both native and through third-party apps like Edwin that take advantage of the phones’ native voice recognition software), eventually we’ll be able to control the devices in our lives by simply talking to them, and they’ll talk back.

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Notes – The universal iPod docks allows you to attach your iPod or iPhone and play your favorite music or videos.
    For more information or to purchase a Panasonic TC-L32X2 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with iPod Dock, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Features of Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.


    BodyMedia, a fitness company, displayed its new fitness app and armband for Android-based phones at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The app acts as an all-in-one trainer that monitors eating, exercise and sleep.
    The new app and armband, which are not available to the public yet, is constantly reading your body and determines what you’re doing right and wrong throughout the day in regards to your lifestyle. For example the armband can tell you if you’ve consumed more calories than burned or if you haven’t done any exercise for the past few days. It will set goals and monitor progress with all the information you feed it.
    The pinpoint precision of the technology can give seniors valuable insight to their health. As we all know, staying on top of our health becomes more important as we age. Keeping track of calories, exercise and sleeping habits may encourage better lifestyle habits for seniors. In turn, the new technology may help seniors live healthier lives for a longer period of time.


    Seniors able to keep up with all the latest gadget crazes probably noticed a fair amount of old electronics piling up. With the release of the iPhone 4, your iPhone 3 may be tossed into that same pile. Not so fast! Your old iPhone still has some utility.
    While you may not use your old iPhone as a phone anymore, there are some apps you can download to use the smartphone for other purposes. There are apps that can turn it into a entertainment center remote. Your handheld iPhone can turn on your TV, DVD player and stereo system all with the touch of a few buttons. This eliminates the need for multiple remotes.
    The iPhone also makes an excellent webcam. With the proper connection and an inexpensive app, you can use your iPhone to start video chatting if your current computer doesn’t have a camera or if you’re old camera no longer works.
    Older technology isn’t useless just because something better and faster is available. A little imagination and resourcefulness can extend the lifespan of your electronics and maybe even save a little money.

    After finishing reading the latest bestsellers, many people are apt to loan their books to family or friends, perhaps in exchange for another title they’ve been wanting to read.

    That hasn’t been the case with e-books. Amongst the largest complaints in switching to the e-book format has been the lack of an ability to gift or loan out books that have been purchased.

    The initial absence of such a feature is understandable though, given how easily books could be pirated if they were not restricted through digital encryption. But as the e-book format takes off, more and more people are requesting a lending feature, prompting Amazon.com to respond by allowing e-books purchased through their Kindle store to be shared with other e-readers – for a limited time.

    Lending your Kindle books is free but there are a number of rules and restrictions you should become acquainted with before you start sending your library out to family and friends.

    First, not all Kindle books are available for lending. Lending capability is determined by the publisher or rights holder and will be noted on the title’s product detail page. For books you already own, this information can be found in the Your Orders section in Manage Your Kindle by clicking the “+” symbol next to the title.

    If a Kindle book is available for lending, it can be loaned for a period of 14 days, during which time, you, the lender, will be unable to read the title – just the same as if you had loaned an actual physical copy. This is similar to the way lending works on the Barnes & Noble Nook, as well.

    Right now lending is only available in the United States and there could be further restrictions for borrowing if you’re lending a title to someone in another country as there are different copyrights in play in different parts of the world.

    If you don’t know by now, you don’t need to purchase a Kindle to take advantage of Kindle books. All you need is the free Kindle app that can be downloaded for your PC, Mac, laptop, smartphone or other portable computing devices such as Apple’s iPod touch or iPad.

    Read more about lending Kindle books and the rules and regulations at Amazon.com.

     

    Senior Friendly Features: Lightweight  Large Screen  Plenty of RAM  Sufficient Hard Drive Space  Fast Hard Drive  Battery Life [rating5] Display  Battery Size  Thickness  Price 

    The Toshiba Mini NB255-N245 may have an overly long name, but its design is lightweight, sleek and sexy. It weighs 2.8 pounds, is 1.27-inches thick and sports a 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution LED display, a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455 processor, 160GB of hard drive space and 1GB of RAM. Of particular intreats to seniors, this Netbook features a full-size, island-style keyboard and large touchpad, which should make typing and scrolling easier and more comfortable. There is also a multi-memory card reader, integrated webcam and microphone, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and up to 8.3 hours of battery life. Unfortunately this Netbook has no Bluetooth support, and keep in mind that Netbooks do not have optical (CD/DVD) drives.

    For more information or to purchase the Toshiba Mini NB255-N245, visit Amazon.com.

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Notes – Special backlight controls allow this television to reach darkness levels other LCD HDTVs are not able to reach.
    For more information or to purchase a Toshiba 32C100U 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Features of Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

    Senior Friendly Features: Picture Quality  Burn In  Size  Viewing Angle  Fast Motion Blur  Light Reflection  Black Levels Altitude  Lifespan  Power Usage Price 

    Other Notes – This television’s AV Mode allows you to change the image quality based upon the program you are watching. There are settings for sports, movies and video games.
    For more information or to purchase a LG 32LD350 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV, visit Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior’s Guide to Features of Plasma, LCD and LED HDTVs.

    Senior Friendly Features: Lightweight  Large Screen  Plenty of RAM  Sufficient Hard Drive Space  Fast Hard Drive  Battery Life Display 

    This 14-inch laptop from Samsung packs a pretty powerful punch for its price range. Video and gaming should look great on the 1366 x 768 resolution LED display thanks to its 2.53 GHz Intel Core-i5-460M dual-core processor and 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics card. On the storage front there’s 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive space. Also included is a dual-layer DVD burner, an integrated 0.3 megapixel webcam, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and HDMI output for connecting to an external monitor or TV. On the downside, there’s no Bluetooth support, the touchpad is a tad small for its build and the display’s edge-to-edge glass increases the amount of glare, which may make reading more difficult for those with vision problems.

    For more information or to purchase the Samsung Q430 14-inch Laptop, visit Amazon.com.

    While they didn’t necessarily debut at CES, Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Office 2010 accessibility options were on full display at the show, where they were easily pulled up on any number of laptops. What sets Microsoft apart from other operating systems – at least in terms of accessibility – is how customizable its features are.

    Instead of providing one basic feature for people who have trouble seeing or hearing, Microsoft has done its research to tackle the most common problems people face. They then translated this data to determine what the most common problems these users would face when working on a computer.

    The result is a short survey that aims to identify and compensate for your exact problem. For example, the first part of the survey evaluates your visual needs. It provides four statements, such as “Images on TV are difficult to see (even when I’m wearing glasses)” and asks you to check all that apply.

    Next, it tackles your dexterity, as the system tries to determine whether you have difficulties grasping pens and pencils, or cannot use a keyboard. A hearing survey follows, during which time you can state whether you regularly have trouble following conversations, or cannot hear the computer over background noise. Speech and reasoning skills are also examined.

    Once the system has a feel for your precise needs it will suggest which accessibility options it thinks will work for you, such as a magnifier if you have trouble reading the computer screen.

    If you’re a senior who experiences these types of problems, you may want to consider a Windows 7- or Office 2010-based computer system.

    If you’ve been following the site, then you’ve probably heard of Google TV. It’s just one of many Internet-capable television platforms that strives to bring the web to the big screen. Well, at least the big screen inside your home.

    Google TV and platforms like it are being referred to as smart TVs, and though they may not have had the cache of tablets or 3D TVs at CES, they were still out in full force. The purpose of smart TVs is to access the Internet, and all of its apps and services, from your television remote. Essentially, your TV becomes a larger version of your tablet or smartphone, although calling capabilities are usually not included.

    You can obtain smart TV features in one of two ways. You can buy a television, such as the Sony Internet TV NSX-32GT1, which comes with an Internet connection program already built in, or you can purchase a set-top box, such as LG’s ST600 Smart TV Upgrader, which debuted at CES.

    Aside from Sony and LG, there were many other big names that waded into CES’ smart TV trend pool. Sharp, Haier, Reycom, Panasonic, Yahoo!, Logitech, Intel and Samsung all showcased their smart TV capabilities, though each company had different partnerships that limited or provided exclusive access to specific content, channels, apps and features.

    For example, Sharp’s smart TV-enabled set-top boxes feature Pandora and Facebook, allowing you to access your Internet radio or social media page from your remote control. Certain Sony sets like the Bravia can access Hulu, which provides tons of TV content for you to choose from. However, the Sony Internet TVs, which work with Google TV, cannot access Hulu.

    These little nuances make the smart TV business complicated. While it’s evident that many television and Internet companies are chomping at the bit to integrate Internet into our television screens, the limited access, complicated set ups and, oftentimes, blocked content probably still has a ways to go before consumers will embrace it.

    Plus, no one’s answering the question of whether we even wantInternet on our TVs. Isn’t that what tablets, laptops and smartphones are for?

    Panasonic’s VIERA Connect TVs, in conjunction with NordicTrack, unveiled a television at CES that lets you experience virtual trails straight from your living room. Utilizing Google Maps, you can choose any terrain-based path in the world to travel.

    One of the great features of this partnership is that the treadmill will actually adjust to the incline of the path you’re “traveling” on. This means things will get quite hilly if you’re running up San Francisco’s Lombard Street, while it may be flat as a pancake if you chose to run through Downtown LA. Just like in real life, cars and people will cross your path, though you don’t have to get out of their way.

    This is a great workout platform, particularly for seniors who can’t get outside to run very easily. Instead, they can take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Paris – or their old childhood neighborhood, for that matter.

    The VIERA Connect TVs also feature a number of health and fitness apps that can keep your lifestyle on track. These apps are used in conjunction with other accessories, such as the Withings Wi Scale, which lets you wirelessly measure and record your weight and body mass index. There’s also the BodyMedia FIT Armband, which keeps track of your vitals and the calories burned during your treadmill workout. Finally, the ICON iFit App lets you track your progress on the treadmill.

    Panasonic believes the VIERA Connect TVs, with apps, will be available sometime in 2011.

    Toshiba’s tablet, which has yet to be named.

    Of all the booths we visited on Day 2 of CES, one stood apart from the pack. That was Toshiba, and we’ll give you three reasons why.

    First, there’s the glasses-free 3D TV. We saw this technology debut (from a different company) last year at CES. While it was neat to see that 3D images could be achieved without the use of glasses, the picture had a long way to go. Toshiba’s 56- and 65-inch screens are much crisper and easier on the eyes than others we’ve seen. Toshiba’s models are currently only available in Japan, though the company hopes to bring them to the U.S. by the end of 2011. Right now, that would make them the first major TV manufacturer to make glasses-free 3D TVs available to American consumers.

    The next gadget Toshiba wowed us with also involved glasses-free 3D technology. It’s a 3D laptop that actually tracks your focal point. This ensures that the 3D picture quality remains sound regardless of where you’re looking on the screen. By consistently recognizing one’s gaze, the laptop can effectively eliminate dead space, which happens sometimes when you’re looking at a 3D image at an angle. If you’re curious about how it works you can always pull up the laptop’s camera perspective on the screen. You can see that it’s tracking your face, has located your eyes and will move with your movements. This type of laptop would be great for video games, watching movies, or sharing pictures or videos with friends.

    Departing from 3D, Toshiba has also created a virtual modern-day Clapper. It’s a TV that, when hooked to the appropriate box, does not require a remote. Instead, you clap twice, wait for a blue light to come on and say a command, such as “Channel 25” or “Volume Up.” This TV system can change the channel, adjust volume, pull up programming information or utilize HDMI functions. Naturally, many more features could be built into this remote-less TV system, but Toshiba’s off to a good start.

    We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Toshiba is also working on a tablet, which will run on Android’s Honeycomb operating system. Toshiba sources say the tablet is due out anytime, and that it is simply waiting for Google to formally introduce Honeycomb before premiering the tablet. Featurewise, the as-yet-unnamed tablet sports a screen that’s just slightly larger than the iPad’s, as well as two cameras. The front-facing camera, which can be used for video conferencing, is two megapixels, while the back-facing camera is five megapixels. Our Toshiba rep was also quick to point out that this new tablet has Flash.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Memory  Ample Apps  Lightweight  High Resolution Long Battery Life  Large Screen  Easy To Use  Ease of Typing  Processor 

    The Coby Kyros is an inexpensive 7-inch resistive touchscreen tablet that seems designed for more simpler tasks such as browsing the web or reading e-books. The Android 2.1-powered tablet is fairly sparse, sporting an 800MHz processor, 4GB of internal memory, an 800 x 480 display resolution and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. It is thusly priced appropriately below the majority of newer tablets at $174.99. It also features an SD card slot for up to 32GB of additional storage (which should appease those primarily interested in movies and music) as well as an HDMI output for connecting to your TV and a USB port for the addition of external mice or keyboards. E-books are supported in the ePub format and are read with the included Aldiko e-book reader. As another tablet without access to the Android Market, apps will be extremely limited via the AppsLib service, whose available apps only number in the hundreds.

    Update: There are three sizes of Kyros tablets; 7-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch.

    For more information or to purchase the Coby Kyros tablet, visitAmazon.com.

    Older generations are less likely to embrace new technology due to unfamiliarity. For example electronics such as tablets can be intimidating for someone whose most advance piece of equipment is a VCR. This doesn’t mean your elderly parents will never take a liking to e-mail. On the contrary, they might with the right motivation.

    Seniors are most likely to embrace technology that fulfills a need. In other words, if you’re trying to convince your 70-year-old dad to start using eReaders, give him a good reason that applies to him personally. Maybe your dad loves reading but can’t because of poor vision and arthritis in the hands. Specifically tell your dad that eReaders are light in weight, need little dexterity to operate and are easy to read. This speaks directly to your father’s issues and will be more effective that “eReaders make life easier.” You have to make the pitch personal.

    Other factors that should be taken into consideration include ease of use. Technology is a lot like swimming in that you would never throw a beginner in the deep end. The same applies for technology. There’s no incentive for a senior to embrace smartphones if they never owned a cell phone to begin with. Take baby steps and ease seniors into new technology instead of jumping right in.

    Finally, always remember that the happiness of your parents is paramount. Everyone, including seniors, will embrace technology if it makes them happy and improves their quality of life.

    http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/elder-tech-whats-important/?partner=rss&emc=rss

    The old items you have lying around the house may have little value to you but could change someone else’s life. Since we often think that charity donation usually involve time or money, it rarely occurs that we can donate old clothing and household items. The Livingston Patch wants to change this by raising awareness about old items that tend to create clutter around our house and that charities want.

    One type of item almost every house has is an old, unused cell phone. It has no value to you but Cell Phones for Soldiers, a non-profit organization, will take it to help soldiers make free phone calls to home.

    Another item collecting dust is your old computer. You can go through the hassle of disposing it the environmentally safe way or you can donate it to Goodwill Industries which, in turn, will recycle the parts and use the profits to fund their charitable work.

    These charities give you a chance to clear out some space in your home and to change someone else’s life in a positive way. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, so start paying attention to the unused items around your house.

    For a Livingston Patch’s full list of charities and items they will accept, visit:

    http://livingston.patch.com/articles/top-10-things-to-do-with-things-you-no-longer-need

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Sound Quality

    The LG Apex proves that users don’t have to bleed their bank accounts dry in order to purchase a smartphone worth having. The phone’s Android 2.1 operating system makes the phone up-to-date and easy to pick up and use. The QWERTY keyboard is both easy to use and fits in well with the sleek design. This phone is perfect for texting and emailing. However, the phone tends to run a bit sluggish when bogged down with too many tasks, so multi-taskers may want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, the LG Apex is a great phone with a great price for users of any level.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Memory  Ample Apps  Lightweight  High Resolution Long Battery Life  Large Screen  Easy To Use  Ease of Typing  Processor 

    The eLocity A7 is a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen tablet that was designed with movies and games in mind. It features the fast, 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 800 x 480 resolution, 4GB of internal memory and HDMI output for viewing 1080p content on an external HDTV. For the additional space required of movies and music, an SDHC card slot is available for up to 32GB, as well as a USB 2.0 port for flash memory devices of up to 64GB. There is also a 1.3 megapixel webcam, Bluetooth 2.1, and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. And the eLocity A7 supports Flash. But again, this is an Android 2.2 powered tablet without access to the Android Market. Instead there are over 75,000 apps at your disposal through the GetJar app store. However given that the 4GB of internal memory, the 7-inch, 800 x 480 display and the lack of 802.11n Wi-Fi specs could all be considered on the lower end of what’s available (and what’s to come at CES), the $375 price tag might be a little too high for some.

    For more information or to purchase the eLocity A7 tablet, visit Amazon.com.

    Samsung’s NX100 digital camera is one of the new Compact System Cameras, mirrorless, tiny digital camera bodies with interchangeable lenses.

    The form is that of a sort of small brick, much like a 35mm rangefinder camera, but even a little smaller. It is still thick. The screen on the back is large and clear, especially helpful since it’s the only way to view the image the lens sees. There are curves in the front and back on the right side to make gripping the camera easy. The overall build quality of the camera seems plasticky, there isn’t a lot of metal to it. That does help keep it lighter.

    There is no optical viewfinder. The lens on the front is not stabilized, but can be focused automatically or manually. There is a cool feature, when you switch to manual focus the viewfinder zooms in digitally to show you what’s in focus in the center, then a half-press of the shutter release button zooms back out to see the entire image.

    It has a top shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, helpful in bright situations with no stabilization. Low light performance is not as good as many current cameras with the same size (APS-C, 15x24mm). You can fully automate the controls or take as much manual control as you’d like.

    Most of the controls are on the back of the camera, with the mode ring and shutter release on top. Aperture and some other controls are handled through the secondary ring on the lens. All the controls are easy to reach, but some are in slightly non-traditional places so it takes some getting used to.

    The NX100 comes standard with a 20-50mm lens, roughly equivalent to a 30-75mm lens on a 35mm camera. Other lenses are available separately.

    For more information, or to purchase the Samsung NX100, visitAmazon.com.

    Read our Senior Friendly Guide To Digital Cameras.


    Senior Friendly Features: Large Memory  Ample Apps  Lightweight  High Resolution Long Battery Life  Large Screen  Easy To Use  Ease of Typing  Processor 

     

    The ViewSonic G-Tablet offers a large, 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution capacitive touchscreen display that produces exceptional high-definition video playback thanks in large part to its 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. The rest of the tablet’s hardware specs are impressive as well. It features 16GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot for up to 16GB of additional storage space, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, a 1.3 megapixel webcam, 8-10 hours of battery life, and a full size USB port that gives you the option of adding peripherals such as a physical keyboard or mouse. The ViewSonic G-Tablet runs a modified version of Android 2.2 (“Froyo”) but unfortunately lacks access to apps from the official Android Market. Apps are instead accessed through the Handango app store, which features over 190,000 apps to choose from. As with the Apple iPad, this tablet also lacks support for Flash content.

    For more information, or to purchase the ViewsSonic G tablet, visit Amazon.com.

    Technology Myth Busting

    by ELDERGADGET on JANUARY 4, 2011 · 0 COMMENTS

    We’ve all heard of (and sometimes believed in) technology myths that have not been put to the test. For example, a common misconception is that girls don’t play video games, but is this true? Common sense would say it isn’t.

    Well, CNET wanted to look further into these “theories,” so it recently published its list of the top 10 biggest technology myths. One common myth is that a computer can be damaged from repeatedly turning it off and on. As it turns out, this one is actually false. All computers need resting periods to cool down. Turning a computer off and on may actually be good for it, according to experts.

    One crazier myth that turned out to be true is the old keyboard in the dishwasher trick. You can actually put a dirty keyboard in a dishwasher (cold water only) to clean off liquid stains like coffee. It’s important to note that this only works for keyboards with wires, and not for wireless or battery-operated keyboards. Still, it’s quite amazing to know you can place an electronic in a dishwasher without damaging it.

    Another myth that is circulating is that Mac computers are immune to viruses. This myth is true to the extent that there just aren’t many viruses that target the Mac operating system. This is a result of market share, however. Almost all viruses can compromise Windows-run computers because significantly more people own these types of computers. As Mac continues to gain costumers you can expect the number of Mac viruses to grow as well.

    Click here for a complete list of CNET’s Top 10 Technology Myths.

    Screen shot of Alphaline Entertainment’s movie rental website

    In an attempt to give Netflix and Amazon a run for their money, Sears and Kmart (both subsidiaries of Sears Holdings) launched an online video rental service on Dec. 28.

    This video streaming service is provided through the Alphaline Entertainment website, and gives customers an opportunity to download movies on the day they’re released, as opposed to Netflix subscribers who have to wait 30 days for new releases. Instead of driving to the local video rental store, or paying for a monthly subscription to video mail services like Netflix, this rental program allows users to rent out a single movie without any other obligation. Pay a one-time fee of $2.99 or $3.99, and you’ll have your movie ready to watch right on your computer.

    Sears Holdings’ new video rental program gives seniors who don’t watch many movies a viable option. Even though monthly subscription programs like Netflix are inexpensive, the month-to-month membership and price may be too much for a senior who only wants to see a few new movies a year. Sears allows the apathetic movie watcher to pay by the rental.

    There are now a lot of tablets out there. How do you chose? For some, the diminutive Galaxy Tab is great, it’s like a large phone. Easy to take everywhere. But if you like bigger screens and like to see more of the web you’re surfing, larger type in the ebooks you’re reading, or larger birds in Angry Birds, you may want to check out the Archos 101. It is a big tablet, with a 10.1″ diagonal multi-touch screen. For being so big, it’s very slim and only weighs about a pound. It even has a really handy built-in multi-position kickstand on the back.

    The Archos 101 runs the Android OS, currently on version 2.2. It will run Adobe Flash content natively, bringing essentially ALL of the web to you. The graphics accelerator helps all of that run smoothly, even when you have a few apps running simultaneously. There are two flavors of the 101, a 16 GB and an 8 GB version. It’s a $100 difference in price for twice the storage, and having that extra 8 GB can really be helpful if you have a lot of apps, music or movies. You can also add up to 32 GB of extra storage with a Micro SD card. For whatever reason, Archos has their own proprietary App Market. For full access to the Android App Market and ALL of the Android apps, there is a workaround available online and an app or two that will help you install the regular Android App Market.

    The claimed battery life is 10 hours for web surfing and 7 hours for movie playback, on par with the iPad. It has a front-facing .3 megapixel webcam for video chatting. It is compatible with all flavors of WiFi, up to 802.11n, for quick speeds on those chats, browsing online, etc. There’s no built-in 3G option, but you can use bluetooth or USB to tether to your 3G phone for internet on-the-go. And as 4G rolls out, that option is great because you will likely upgrade to a 4G phone if you want it, anyway, then you don’t have an obsolete tablet with old technology.

    You can make it into a digital photo frame, playing photos from internal storage or via the web, including direct feeds from your Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa accounts.

    There are USB and HDMI ports, so if you have movies, you can even watch them on your HD television.

    For more information or to purchase the Archos 101 tablet, visitAmazon.com

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Sound Quality

    Sometimes, when looking for products of excellent quality, one simply has to be willing to pay for it. This is certainly the case with the Nokia N8. Armed with spectacular, 12 megapixel camera and video features this phone is one of the best multimedia smartphones on the market. The Symbian 3 operating system is also a wonderfully usable one that should be a joy to pick up. Currently, the only way to buy this GSM phone is fully unlocked (will work with any GSM carrier, e.g. AT&T, T-Mobile) and without a contract subsidy from a carrier, this phone is not cheap.

    For more information or to purchase a Nokia N8, visit Amazon.com.

    The HP Envy series laptop computers offer a lot of features in the middle price range. The Envy 14 is a small laptop with a 14.5″ (diagonal) screen. Its big brother offers a 17.3″ screen. The stylish metal chassis gives it a sturdy feel and a great look as well as a svelte size, at a hair over an inch thick closed.

    The standard setup offers a 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, with 4 GB RAM (Expandable to 8 GB), a 640 GB 7200RPM hard drive, a high definition LED display powered by an ATI Mobility Radeon 5650 graphics card with a whopping 1 GB of video RAM. This thing is built for performance, easily handling multiple applications.

    It has all the usual WiFi connections and a built-in camera and microphone for video chatting, along with a slot-loading DVD drive, a 2-in-one memory card reader, 3 USB 2.0 ports, and a microphone/headphone combo jack.

    It comes installed with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system.

    All this power comes at a price – namely in weight at 5.2 lbs, and battery life, at about 3-4 hours. There is an optional extended life battery that claims up to 8 additional hours, good for those long flights.

    For more information or to purchase the HP Envy 14, visitAmazon.com.

    In an attempt to keep pace with communication programs like Skype, Google unveiled free local phone calls and inexpensive international calls through Gmail’s Google Chat. This deal was supposed to go away after the year ended, but Google has decided to bestow a late Christmas gift upon the masses: it’s keeping these rates in place through 2011.

    There are several benefits to Google’s Internet phone calls for seniors. First, Gmail calls are free, as mentioned before. Seniors suffering from the poor economic climate or those on a fixed income will benefit the most from this pricing.

    Second, the Gmail interface is easier to use than physical phones. Seniors can use a computer mouse, touch pad or keyboard to enter phone numbers, as opposed to dialing on a small home phone or cell phone.

    There is also no need to hold a phone to your ear. The computer’s speakers will transmit the other person’s voice and pick up your own without the use of any external device. Simply dial the phone number, make sure the volume’s up and start talking.

    These benefits have not gone unnoticed by Gmail users. Google reported that 10 million calls were placed within a week of the service premiering. Seniors tired of using their home or cell phone should consider the benefits of Gmail phone calls while the program is still free.

    Cyber Monday is the Internet’s equivalent of Black Friday. It’s the Monday after Black Friday when retail websites offer one-day-only discounts and, much like Black Friday, consumers respond positively. Consumers’ response this year was so positive that overall spending surpassed $1 billion dollars, according to comScore.  This is a 16 percent increase from 2009.

    Amazon alone shipped nearly 13.7 million products around the globe at an estimated 158 items per second – a new record according to Amazon officials. These shipments went to 178 countries around the globe.

    These astonishing numbers were partially propelled by the strong sales of senior-friendly devices that you’ve seen on ElderGadget. The most popular electronics included the Kindle and the iPod Touch. Smartphones also sold well. The Samsung Captivate, Motorola Droid X and HTC Droid Incredible are the leading this pack.

    Amazon and other retail websites provide seniors with hassle-free ways of shopping for the holidays. Maybe next year you can be part of another record-breaking year for Cyber Monday.

    If you would like to be able to dictate emails, documents, even control your computer by your voice, Nuance has a couple of products that are excellent in this area. It takes just a few minutes to install the software and go through learning a few simple voice commands and samples to get you up and running. You can open documents, move your mouse, search your computer or email messages, all using just your voice. Perfect for anyone with issues with eyesight, arthritis, injury or just plain slow typing skills. It is highly accurate and even the editing and correction of mistakes can be handled by voice command.

    The program learns your voice easily, through a set of tools in the Vocabulary Training Feature and later in what they call a “Recognition Window”. You can tell your computer exactly what to do, like “Reply To This Message” or “Open Microsoft Word” or “Jump To Google” to work faster and smarter. Create voice commands that automate complex workflows on your computer.

    There are options for headphones, including wired and bluetooth. It will work with some third-party microphone/headsets, both wired and bluetooth. If you already have one, you can buy the version of the software without an included headset. Nuance has a list of approved devices on their site here. I’ve used the headset with a portable digital recorder in the car for later transcription, and though they don’t recommend that, it works very well.

    It’s a simple, powerful program that works as described with a minimum of time spent at the beginning learning it and training it to respond to your voice.

    For more information or to purchase Naturally Speaking for the PC, visit Amazon.com.

    For more information or to purchase Dragon Dictate for Mac, visitAmazon.com.

    If you’re getting serious about training or just want to track every possible aspect of your workouts, Garmin makes a few watches that have some incredibly cool features. The Forerunner series includes the 405, available in several colors as well as black, and features simple operation with a couple of buttons and a nice, large, contrasty LCD screen. Not only does it track your heart rate, speed, distance, and calories burned, you can check if you’re on pace (even racing against a virtual partner) and where you are in relation to other runners in a race.

    With optional equipment, you can also record cadence information on a bike.

    Connecting to your computer couldn’t be easier, it’s done wirelessly as soon as you get in range. You can even plan your workout and beam it from your computer to your watch. Something else that can be done wirelessly is sharing workouts with another Forerunner 405 user. You can literally just beam the information between watches.

    The watch comes with a heart rate monitor (chest) strap, USB Ant+ stick, two additional wrist straps, AC charger and charging clip, and a disc with the owner’s manual and other software.

    For more information or to purchase a Garmin Forerunner 405CX, visitAmazon.com.

    There is no shortage of tablet options these days, so each one has to differentiate itself. The Velocity Micro Cruz tablet is billing itself as a small Kindle in color, though it would appear to be a bit more than just that. It runs the Android 2.x, currently on 2.2 (Froyo), but will likely be upgradeable to version 2.3 (Gingerbread) and above. There is a Cruz app Market, so the full 200,000+ Android apps may not fully be compatible with the Cruz. The built-in apps include Dictionary, Astro, OfficeSuite, Notepad, Calendar, Alarm Clock and a few others. Many popular ones work with it, e.g. Facebook’s app:

    The screen is 800×600 pixels, not the highest resolution of any current tablet by any means, but that does mean that icons on the screen are large and easy to read and the touch screen should allow fairly precise input without you having to have the world’s greatest fine motor skills.

    It offers 802.11n (the current fastest version of WiFi), full browser support, access to the official Kindle app and store for access to over 700,00o books, and more. The built-in accelerometer switches easily from portrait to landscape mode. Support is provided for ePub, PDF, TXT, PDB, and HTML reader files.

    The tablet comes with an AC adapter, USB cord, carrying pouch, stand, user’s guide, and 4GB SD card.An extended life, user-replaceable lithium-ion battery is included, offering up to 10+ hours of life on a single charge (24+ hours on standby).

    For more information or to purchase the Velocity Micro T301 Cruz 7-inch Android Tablet, visit Amazon.com.

    McAfee, one of the leaders in the computer protection industry, says that cyber criminals are more likely to target smartphones and social networking websites in the near future. The reason is simple – these new technologies are being used more often by consumers and lack the same safeguards as older technologies.

    Part of the susceptibility to cyber criminality is the lack of public awareness. Most email users know to never open a suspicious-looking message, but Twitter users often click on links without a second thought as to where that link came from.

    Facebook users use geolocation services like Foursquare to tell everyone their current location without thinking about who, outside their circle of friends, may also be viewing this information.

    This doesn’t mean you need to stop using your smartphone or social networking websites. These technologies are perfectly safe so long as you use common sense. For example, seniors (and everyone else) should only click on links and emails from known sources.

    Social network posts should never contain information that can be used against you. That means never broadcasting that you’re going on a  week-long vacation, which lets everyone know your home will be vacant. A little common sense and forethought may be your best crime deterrent.

    To learn more about cyber criminals, click on our stories about the 12 most common Christmas cyber scams or seven common Internet crimes to watch out for.

    Skype has unveiled its new iPhone app, Skype 3.0, just in time for the New Year. Now iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and the latest version of the iPod Touch can all place video calls.

    Skype 3.0 doesn’t stop there. Video calls can now be made over Wi-Fi and the 3G network, which increases the reliability of the app. The features that made Skype popular in the first place are also available – video chat with other Skype users, instant messaging and text messaging. Phone calls to land lines can still be placed for low rates as well.

    The advancement of video calls and apps such as Skype 3.0 give seniors another opportunity to keep in touch with family and make a visual connection that is missing from many forms of communication. This visual connection will be important for seniors who live far away from their families or who no longer drive.

    Tablets to Dominate at CES

    by NELLIE DAY on DECEMBER 30, 2010 · 0 COMMENTS

    Last year, 3D TVs ruled the roost at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is held every January in Las Vegas. This year, tablets are predicted to be the gadget of choice, with a dozen or so companies trying to catch up to Apple and its iPad.

    Some of the biggest names garnering attention in the CES forums are Asus, Acer and Motorola, which will all utilize the Android Operating System. Asus is also said to be designing a 12-inch tablet that will run off the Windows 7 system.

    HP will debut its newest tablet, called the PalmPad, which will run off the Palm webOS. Rumor has it that Microsoft may have a few tablet-based announcements in store as well, while there seems to be no official word on whether Blackberry’s tablet, the Playbook, will make an appearance. The Playbook has already been showcased, but it isn’t on the market yet.

    These new tablets will be competing with the already released Samsung Galaxy Tab and, of course, the iPad, which will not be featured at CES.

    We’ll bring you all the tablet action you can handle next week as ElderGadget travels to Las Vegas to cover CES live!

    Do you hate using one remote for your TV, one for your home theater, one for your DVD/Blu-Ray player, and perhaps others? That coffee-table or couch arm covered with remotes is annoying, isn’t it? And invariably, you set one down somewhere else and can’t seem to find it right now, so you’re even more hampered in your relaxing time on the couch. Or your snacks are getting stale and the game is already on while you’re looking!

    A universal remote is perfect to tame these problems. But not just any one will do, some have so many buttons and are so hard to program that you’ll gladly go back to the original pile of remotes.

    Logitech’s Harmony One is a fully programmable, touch screen universal remote that allows you to control things with a combination of buttons and menus, making it less complicated to set up and use. There’s still a bit of setup, but overall, the menus make that work a lot more intuitive. The bright, 2.2″ full color touch screen LCD is easy to see and navigate.

    They claim it’s compatible with over 225,000 different devices (and as many as 15 at a time), so unless you still have a top-loading VHS player from the 80s, chances are good that this will control your stuff. Yep, even small store brands! Much of the setup can be done via your Mac or PC with an online interface. It can even learn your old remotes by simply pointing them at the Harmony One.

    You can even program in your favorite channels to instantly get to them. That’s a really cool feature in this age of 900+ channels.

    There are optional adapters for controlling your Playstation 3 or even expanding your IR if you have devices hidden in cabinets or on other sides of the room.

    There’s live support, a built-in help button, a dock for recharging batteries, too.

    For more information or to purchase the Harmony One Universal Remote Control, visit Amazon.com.

    By her own admission, Ruby Adkins wastes too much time on Facebook. The Spokane Washington resident logs on to the social networking site three or four times a day to chat with friends and family, share links to news stories, and post comments about TV shows and current events.

    None of which would be unusual except for the fact that Adkins is 74 years old.

    “Being divorced for many years I have a lonely life, and I get companionship that way,” said Adkins, a retired high school administrator whose Facebook page lists 104 friends, including all of her three children. In recent months, Adkins used her Facebook wall to comment on Tiger Woods’ golf game and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding dress, congratulate her granddaughter for graduating from high school, and write about her 55th high school class reunion.

    “It’s just a way to keep in touch,” Adkins said in a phone interview. “I keep track of everybody that way.”

    Adkins is among a growing number of seniors who are discovering social networking. While younger people still greatly outnumber their elders on sites like Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn, a new study shows older generations have begun to catch up.

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that people 74 and older represent the fastest growing demographic on the sites. Sixteen percent of Internet users in that age group now visit them, compared with four percent in 2008.

    “For people who want to have robust social lives, these are really compelling places,” said Pew Internet Center Director Lee Rainie. “We hear directly out of the mouths of senior citizens that they get enchanted when they log on to Facebook and fill in their profile, and all of a sudden, their suggestion page starts populating with folks from their past.”

    A connection for the isolated

    Of course, retirees are far outside the stereotypical image of social networkers. (Earlier this year, 88-year-old comedienne Betty White got a lot of laughs professing her ignorance of Facebook on “Saturday Night Live.”) But senior citizens’ embrace of the Web and social networking shouldn’t be surprising.

    Older people already are large consumers of media. They’re more likely than younger folks to read a daily newspaper and watch network television newscasts. And while seniors were relatively slow to discover the Internet, they tend to use it extensively once they become comfortable with it.

    The AARP site hosts more than 900 discussion groups — created by users themselves — where members post comments about news, politics, music, investments, relationships and other subjects.

    Many of the groups have what AARP would call a “mature” tinge. One exists solely to allow users to share cute photos of their grandchildren. Another is for fans of movies made before 1960. And more than a hundred concern health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, and cancer.

    “For older folks who are not feeling terribly well, social networking spaces are particularly useful to get emotional support and practical advice about how to cope with what they’re dealing with,” said Rainie, the Pew Center director.

    Rainie said most seniors — like the rest of the population — do their social networking on Facebook. In fact, it’s an open question whether a market exists for other platforms targeted specifically at older users.

    AARP said its website’s traffic increased significantly after the social networking section debuted in June. But several free-standing sites for seniors have failed, and eons.com — a networking site for “boomers” older than 46 — last month laid off most of its staff.

    Still reading the paper

    In addition to noting the increase in social networking among seniors, the Pew study also found a growing number of older people view news online — slightly more than half of Internet users 74 and up.

    Yet unlike younger generations, seniors also are likely to still read a daily newspaper and watch television news, even as they spend more time in front of their computers.

    “It’s still pretty new for the older demographic,” Rainie said of the Web, “and so they’re trying to figure out how to incorporate it into their media use. It tends to be complementary, supplementary, and additive rather than something that displaces something else.”

    In that respect, Ruby Adkins the Washington retiree is typical of her age group. While Facebook has been a regular part of her life for more than two years, she said she still spends about 30 minutes every day with her morning paper. (Almost two-thirds of seniors still read a daily newspaper, more than any other demographic.)

    “I’ve been reading the newspaper since I was six or seven years old,” Adkins said. “I like to see the pictures and read the comics. That’s the first thing I do in the day.”

    Adkins also is skeptical that social media will get much more popular among her contemporaries. Though Facebook already has thousands of elderly, she’s encountered resistance to technology among her fellow school district retirees. “Most of my classmates are afraid of Facebook or even a computer,” she wrote on her page the weekend of her high school reunion. “Shame on them. You’re never too old to learn something new.”

    Bose always strives for the best possible reproduction of sound. They’ve improved their in-ear headphones to make a second generation version with even better quality sound, more comfortable earpieces, and even more durable design. The speakers have been designed to give a clear, true, distortion-free sound at all volume levels.

    The silicone “Stay Hear” inserts come in a few different sizes in the package, along with original-style silicone inserts if you prefer those. The new “Stay Hear” versions have a little wing that presses snugly into the bowl of your ear to keep them in place. That’s a huge help for those of us that have trouble keeping conventional silicone inserts to stay in our ears, especially while exercising.

    The cables are black and white, giving them a different look than most all white or all black headphones, and they’re also easier to find if you set them down.

    Also included are a sleek, protective carrying case with room for a portable MP3 player. The plug fits most players, including iPod (all variations), it’s an analog 3.5mm plug (aka 1/8″ miniplug). The plug is angled to keep it out of your way and to fit into even recessed jacks.

    For more information or to purchase Bose IE2 Headphones, visit Amazon.com.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen  Easy User Interface  Easy Controls  Sound Quality

    The Kyocera Torino stresses user friendliness, which makes it easy for just about anyone to pick up the phone and start using it.One gripe that may bug some users is the sound quality; some have complained that the volume of the calls is a little too low. However, as far as messaging and e-mail go, the phone is tops. The keyboard is nice and wide and ready to use which should allow for simple fast usage.

    If you’re constantly using your smartphone this winter, your hands are probably constantly cold. Gloves and capacitive touch screens don’t mix. Or do they?

    Enter the Dots iPhone Gloves. Available in many colors, made from Merino Lambswool, they’ll keep your hands toasty and let you keep calling, texting, playing Angry Birds, whatever you like to do with your iPhone, iPod, Android Phone, iPad… Whatever touch-screen device you like, they are fully compatible with any touch screen device. They have small pads on the tips of the the index finger, middle finger and thumb to actuate the screen accurately.

    The lambswool is worked until it’s soft, so it’s very comfortable as well. They’re available in men’s and women’s sizes in Coal, Clay, Brick and Bark colors. The gloves are ambidextrous so you can always wear one and wear a warmer glove on the other hand. They are hand or machine washable.

    The price, MSRP of twenty bucks and actually selling for half of that will feel pretty comfortable on your wallet, and your fingers will love you for it.

    For more information or to purchase Dots Texting Gloves, visitAmazon.com.

    Pew Research Report Center recently conducted a study that shows people over the age of 65 are the fastest growing group of social network users. The second fastest growing group is people between 50 and 64 years old.

    The burgeoning group of seniors willing to dive into the internet has not gone unnoticed. Elder Locator, a U.S. Administration on Aging service, recently released a guide for seniors on how to use Facebook, Skype and a number of other internet services. The guide is aimed at getting seniors acclimated to a world that is internet-centric.

    Staying Connected: Technology Options for Older Adults” is available now. Seniors looking to join the internet craze but are still a bit intimidated by e-mail, texting, YouTube and blogging can use the guide to get up to speed. With younger age groups already fully utilizing the internet and all it has to offer, Elder Locator’s new guide will give seniors a new avenue to communicate with their younger family and friends.

    For more information, see usatoday.com.

    Space heaters are an economical and efficient way to stay warm during the winter, but they are also controversial for the number of fires that they cause. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission research shows space heaters were five times more likely to cause a fire-related fatality than chimneys or fireplaces between 1999 and 2002.

    This does not mean space heaters are unfit for use. On the contrary, space heaters can be extremely safe so long as you take the right precautions. The Christian Science Monitor shows you what steps to take to protect against a space heater fire with a recently published list of safety tips.

    Several of the most important tips for seniors to remember are to never have drapes or other fabric within three feet of the space heater since they can catch fire. Also, place the heater of a non-flammable surface like a granite countertop or a tile floor. Like fabric, carpet can also catch fire.

    A space heater should always be turned off when you go to bed to prevent a fire while you’re sleeping and should remain on a level surface while it is in operation.

    Finally, make sure your smoke detector is in working order. This small device may save your life one day

    For the full list of safety tips published by The Christian Science Monitor, please visit csmonitor.com.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/new-economy/2010/1215/Electric-heater-Five-safety-tips-for-when-you-turn-it-on

    The Wii Fit Plus was introduced in October 2009 and proved to be a massive hit during last year’s holiday season. Once 2010 came around, it appeared this fitness gaming device lost some of its steam. Now the Wii Fit Plus appears to be picking up momentum again.

    There’s one major reason why the Wii Fit Plus has remained popular with seniors and every other age group – one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. The Wii Fit Plus allows weight-conscious gamers to get exercise without leaving the home. Also, at a price of $89.99, it proves to be less expensive than a gym membership or gym equipment.

    It isn’t just America that Nintendo is advertising the Wii Fit Plus as a major component of a weight loss regime. New moms have been targeted in Japan and senior citizens have been specifically targeted in the United Kingdom.

    Even though the Wii Fit Plus is a year old, its proven longevity and popularity still make it an excellent purchase to keep your New Year’s resolution on track.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen:  Easy User Interface:  Easy Controls: Sound Quality: 

    Microsoft has themselves a pretty solid phone in the Kin TWOm. In what could be the last installment in the Kin series, the TWOm serves best as a messaging phone for those who are big-time texters. Threaded messaging and a nice keyboard make for a nice touch. The TWOm is a step-up from the ONEm in that it’s got a larger screen, camera, memory, and price-tag.

    Senior Friendly Features: Large Display Screen:  Easy User Interface:  Easy Controls: Sound Quality: 

    Microsoft’s Kin ONEm is a small little device that is big on features but may be difficult for some to adapt to. The small touchscreen’s sensitivity leaves a little to be desired, and the QWERTY slide-out keyboard is a bit too small to be that effective. However, the phone’s 5.0 mega-pixel camera is a nice bonus for those who are love to use their phones to snap pictures.

    Canon’s flagship point-and-shoot camera is not for the beginner. It offers a many features and controls of professional cameras, and it’s an excellent choice for an advanced amateur or professional who wants DSLR features but doesn’t want the bulk of a full-sized camera and a bag full of lenses. There are full manual controls for shutter speed, aperture, ISO, as well as exposure compensation. And you can use the manual controls as much or as little as possible, letting the camera take over where you want it to.

    The built-in 5x (equivalent to 28-140mm in 35mm terms) optical zoom lens offers a fantastic range for most pictures. It’s a Canon lens, so it’s sharp, and the built in Image Stabilization lives up to Canon’s legendary standards. The sensor, at 10 megapixels, it has ample resolution for fairly large prints, and the low-light performance is impressive for a point-and-shoot. That’s one thing that’s great about modern digital camera sensor technology, performance in low-light is becoming noise-free, allowing handheld images in darker places than ever before. There’s a built-in flash if you want to use it for fill-in flash or in dark places, and also a hot shoe on the top for Canon’s dedicated flashes for more power and full TTL flash capabilities.

    The G12 also offers HD video in 720p format. The controls make the video easy to get to and start it.

    The LCD on the back isn’t as large as some point-and-shoot cameras, but it is clear and it offers the ability to swivel in enough directions to keep you from ever wanting to use the optical viewfinder. Low-angle and high-angle shots are possible, as well as even shooting around corners.


    It’s not a simple point-and-shoot camera to fit in your pocket, but for those who know their way around a full-featured camera, it offers most features of a full professional camera in a small, easy to carry, relatively lightweight package.

    For more information or to purchase the Canon Powershot G12, visitAmazon.com.

    The Samsung PN50C8000 is the company’s top-of-the-line 3D plasma television at this size, 50 inches. It performs well in both 2D and 3D modes, with refresh rates of 60 and 96 Hz and some built-in smoothing controls to tame interframe judder. The menus are clear and very easy to navigate. 3D glasses are not included with the television, but a starter kit offers a couple of pair of the 3D glasses and a 3D Blu-ray disc (e.g. “Monsters vs. Aliens”). This set even offers a 2D to 3D converting feature. It handles 24p content very well, and the picture is excellent even in bright rooms.

    The physical set is very thin, at about 1.8 inches, making it LED-like, and the bezel is black with a clear glass edge, making the set very attractive. The menu controls give an easy way to customize the picture settings and navigate internet features.

    As with many similar Samsung sets, there is optional wifi connectivity (via a special dongle) to access several internet features, including Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, VuDu, Blockbuster, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo widgets and much more. Other apps can be added, some are free and some are available at relatively low cost.

    For more information or to purchase a Samsung PN50C8000 HDTV, visit Amazon.com.

    The EconoDriver by Lemur Wireless Vehicle Monitors keeps an eye on the economy of your driving habits, also helping you drive greener if you’d like. The sensor module plugs into your vehicle’s diagnostic/ODB II port (on any vehicle made in 1996 or newer) and transmits information to a key fob. The sensor is powered from that port, the fob has its own replaceable battery. Setting it up takes minutes, possibly the hardest part of that process is finding the diagnostic port to plug in the sensor, then putting in a few car details into the fob, like engine size in liters.

    It calculates your mileage, how much each trip costs you in dollars (based on gas prices and mileage), and even has a rating system as to how green you are driving. Hypermilers and similar OCD types will love the amount of information. The screen is small and not backlit, so it’s not very visible at night, but you shouldn’t be looking at the fob while you drive anyway, now should you?

    For more information or to purchase the EconoDriver by Lemur Wireless Vehicle Monitors, visit Amazon.com.

    The tyPad case for the iPad is a leather case with a silicone-keyed, wireless bluetooth keyaboard for the iPad. It protects the iPad from dings and short drops when closed, and when open it props up the iPad and the keyboard and pad fold out nicely to make it into a bit more of a laptop or netbook. The case features a built-in battery, so it doesn’t draw from or need to be connected to the iPad’s dock connector.  You’re free to charge the iPad, connect it to other external devices, etc. The battery in the case is charged via a micro USB connector, which you may already have for another device. If not, they’re very easy to find. A full charge boasts 100 days of standby time or 90 hours of typing, and there’s a blinking light to let you know when the battery is down to an hour or so.

    Navigating the iPad is as usual, via touch screen, but apps that can take advantage of the keyboard in the case don’t require the on-screen keyboard, so you can make use of much more of the beautiful iPad screen for text, etc. There are a couple of minor quirks, where on the iPad virtual keyboard hitting the space bar twice will automatically add a period and capitalize the letter starting the next sentence, using the tyPad requires doing this manually.

    The case is form and function merged beautifully, and available in any color you want, as long as that color is black. Versions are in the works for the Galaxy Tab and many other tablets.

    For more information or to purchase the tyPad wireless bluetooth case for iPad, visit Amazon.com.

    BestBuy is about to get rid of one of its most unpopular items – the dreaded restocking fee. A restocking fee, which usually totals 15 percent of the item’s total price, is forfeited when the gadget is returned.

    Now, items such as GPS systems, computers, tablets, projectors and digital cameras can be returned without fear of incurring the 15 percent charge. Instead, customers will receive a full refund. Restocking fees assessed on or after Nov. 17 will also be refunded.

    This welcomed news came about as part of Best Buy’s efforts to get customers through the door. While it may take some time to analyze how popular the plan is, there’s no doubt that everyone, including seniors, will appreciate the new policy. Removing the fear of incurring a costly fee may encourage cash-strapped seniors to make a holiday purchase that may not otherwise have happened.

    From terrorism to petty crimes, traffic violations and even pollution, there are a number of illegal activities that affect our daily lives but go unreported. The PatriotApp, developed by Citizen Concept, is one app that’s trying to put the power of reporting into the public’s hands.

    The PatriotApp lets users document suspicious activity or objects via photo. This information can then be passed onto federal agencies such as the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Government Accountability Office.

    This app is just the latest example of how innovative developers and concerned private citizens are taking steps to self-police. While this app makes it easier for people to send pertinent information directly to the corresponding government agency, other apps like DriveMeCrazyuse the power of social pressure and public acknowledgment to urge Americans to drive safely.

    Apple’s mobile app store has been wildly successful, making hundreds of thousands of useful apps available to seniors and anyone else who uses an iPod, iPhone or iPad. Well, starting in early 2011, Mac users will be added to that list, as Apple unveil its new Mac Store.

    The store officially opens on Jan. 6, with apps available in 90 countries. Similar to the current App Store, the Mac store will supply both free and fee-based apps. Current app categories include games, lifestyle, education, and graphics and design.

    The most useful features of this store – early on, at least – will be its rating and recommendations, which allow users to leave feedback for others on apps they’ve purchased.

    Apple also announced that it’s launching a line of apps for PCs. We think Apple’s push to make apps laptop and desktop friendly may mean that the company also has a touchscreen laptop in the works, as so many of the current App Store offerings rely heavily on this feature.

    Apple has made substantial use of touchscreen technology on its MP3 players, smartphones and tablet. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this technology make an impact on desktops and laptops now that apps are in the works.

    The Bowflex Series 7 Treadmill has fifteen different workout programs. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular fitness, or if you’re already athletic and trying to maintain, this treadmill has some great features. It’s solid, has what Bowflex calls “Strike Zone cushioning” to go easy on your bones and joints while working out, and features a 20-inch by 60-inch running surface to give you plenty of room, even if you’re tall and have a long stride. With all that area, it has a small storage footprint as the running surface folds up to save space when not in use.

    It can measure heart rate, body mass index, calories burned and more. It has programs for fat burning, cardio, interval, manual and more. It can even test your heart strength and recovery time, giving you a solid overall view of your fitness level and where you can improve.

    The 3 horsepower motor is designed for long life and allows you to run/walk at .5-11 miles per hour. The running surface adjusts from flat to up to a 12 percent incline for hill training. It even has a 3 speed fan and two cup/bottle holders.

    For more information or to order the Bowflex Series 7 Treadmill, seeAmazon.com.

    Read the Full Guide to Senior Friendly Treadmills

    Example of Word Lens’ augmented reality capabilities

    A new iPhone app called Word Lens can instantly translate Spanish text into English (or vice versa) by holding the phone’s camera up to the text. The image of the sign, book or paper you’re reading will appear on screen, but with English text in its place!

    This new technology will be particularly useful for seniors who are active travelers, or who have pen pals in other countries. Understanding Spanish signs or menu items will now be a thing of the past, as Word Lens will instantly translate the text for you. There are plenty of opportunities to use Word Lens stateside as well, since Spanish is one of the most common languages in the United States.

    Another perk of Word Lens is that it doesn’t need an Internet connection to work. Therefore, it will still function even if you’re traveling in a sparsely populated area. Currently, Word Lens can only translate from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. Keep your fingers crossed that this app adds other languages as it becomes more popular. Word Lens costs $4.99, and is available through the App Store.

    Unfortunately, seniors tend to lag behind other generations when it comes to computer use and online activity. The good news, however, is that studies show this gap is slowly shrinking. Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 33, still use the Internet more than seniors, according to a Pew Research Center report, but certain online activities are seeing a huge increase in popularity among the older community.

    One particular activity that is thriving with seniors is social networking. Only four percent of seniors older than 74 used social networking websites in 2008, the study notes. This number jumped to 16 percent in 2010. It seems that every age group is also going online more frequently to conduct searches, check email and read the news.

    Seniors have surpassed Millennials in two categories when it comes to Internet usage: accessing the websites for government entities and financial institutions. Seniors may even surpass their younger counterparts in the blogosphere. As more and more adults between the ages of 34 and 73 have become bloggers, fewer Millennials and teenagers are taking to this writing platform.

    Christmas may only be a few days away, but lucky for you there are still many unique and innovative gifts ideas for the seniors in your life who already own cool gadgets like the iPhone. In fact, iPhone users are one of the easiest types of people to buy for, because the phone lends itself to so many other accessories. Here are five of our top choices for last-minute gifts that an iPhone lover will…well…love.

    For the Music Lover

    Sonos ZonePlayer S5

    This sophisticated stereo system lets you control your iTunes library or Internet radio from anywhere in your home with the iPhone. There are more than 100,000 radio stations the Sonos player can access, giving seniors endless program choices. The set up is relatively hassle-free, the system is stylish and changing the channel is as easy as tapping on your iPhone. Multiple Sonos systems can be added to one home, giving you the option to broadcast your playlist throughout your home, or to let each individual control the music in their respective rooms.

    For more information or to purchase the Sonos ZonePlayer S5, visit Amazon.com.

    For the Driver

    Kensington Car Mount

    This car mount is easy to affix to either your windshield or air vents. Once attached, you can place your iPhone in the holder for hands-free access at all times. This comes in handy if you need to field a call while driving, or if you’re utilizing a GPS/navigation app. The Kensington Car Mount also has a sound amplification cradle, which allows you to use the iPhone’s iPod function.

    For more information or to purchase the Kensington Car Mount, visitAmazon.com.

    For the Photographer

    Joby Gorillapod Mobile

    One of the biggest downsides to camera phones is their inability to mount on tripods. Well, Joby attempts to solve this with its Gorillapod Mobile.  Available for iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4, Gorillapod Mobile provides an instant mount for your phone. The device is flexible, and therefore can stand on its own or wrap around an object like a pole or chair. Seniors can also grip Gorillapod Mobile by its legs to steady their hands while utilizing the iPhone’s camcorder function.

    For more information or to purchase the Joby Gorillapod Mobile, visitAmazon.com

    For the Environmentalist

    Bioserie iPhone Case

    Made from plants and other natural resources, the Bioserie’s case protects your iPhone and the environment. These covers are extremely lightweight, durable and easy to attach to any iPhone. Plus, the textured backing provides added grip for those who have trouble holding onto the iPhone’s slick surface. The Bioserie’s iPhone cases come in a variety of colors, which will enhance the iPhone’s aesthetic while not detracting from its functionality.

    For more information or to purchase the Bioserie iPhone Case, visitAmazon.com.

    For the Health-Conscious (or Traditionalist)


    Moshi Moshi POP Phone Handset

    While there is still some debate about how dangerous mobile phones are to our health, one company has come up with a unique solution to lowering our radiation exposure. The company is Native Union, and its solution is the Moshi Moshi handset. This handset is shaped like an actual home phone receiver, which plugs into your iPhone. Not only does this physical receiver make it easier for seniors with arthritis or gripping problems to hold the phone, but it reduces their exposure to radiation because they don’t have to hold the cell phone directly up to their heads.

    The Moshi Moshi handset is also a great gift for traditionalists, who are no longer able to multi-task while talking because they can’t comfortably hold the cell phone between their heads and necks. This large handset makes it easy to go about your day hands-free. There’s no software to install, simply plug the handset into the iPhone’s headset jack and place your call.

    For more information or to purchase the Moshi Moshi Pop Phone Handset, visit Amazon.com.

    The Timex T5H911 Unisex Digital Fitness Heart Rate Monitor Watch offers everything you could want in a heart rate monitor watch. I nice, big, contrasty display, accuracy, calorie counter, and statistics on your workout. Oh, and it looks good, too!

    If you can measure it, you can improve it, and this watch allows you to do just that. It comes with a chest strap. Yes, some people dislike those, but it’s the only way to keep a constant monitor on your heart rate. It has alarms if you go over or under your target heart rate, keeping you in your target zone audibly. Water resistance to 30 meters means you can even swim with it, and it has a memory that tracks up to 27 laps.

    The Indiglo feature makes it easy to see the watch in the dark without blinding yourself, just gives the LCD a nice backlit glow. The buttons on the side for resetting, changing modes, activating the heart rate monitor, etc are designed to be close to the edge to keep the watch looking stylish, but are still easy to find and have a good feel. It has a regular alarm and works well as an everyday watch, as well.

    For more information or to purchase the Timex T5H911 Unisex Digital Fitness Heart Rate Monitor Watch, see Amazon.com.

    The Nintendo Wii has had massive success since its release in 2006. Part of this success is its popularity with seniors. The Wii’s motion-capture controller gives seniors a unique opportunity to physically interact with games and stay in shape. Plus, the ability to create your own avatar, combined with internet capabilities, makes group play and competition easier.

    The Microsoft hopes to one-up Nintendo with the Kinect, a motion-capture device that only uses body movements (i.e. no controllers required) and is compatible with the Xbox. The lack of controllers can open up gaming to a whole new group of seniors that find controllers hard to grip or use.

    In fact, Microsoft may even have designed the Kinect with older gamers in mind. Many of the games being developed for the device are geared toward physical fitness, one of the main aspects of motion-capture gaming that appeals the most to seniors.

    Seniors can’t go wrong with either device (or the Playstation Move, for that matter), but the hands-free game play of the Kinect may be most suitable for controller-adverse seniors.

    While budgets may be tight this holiday season, spending on electronics is expected to rise 5 percent from 2009. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, consumers will spend roughly $232 on gadgets alone this year. A recent survey by Retrevo also shows that 16 percent of respondents will be spending more money on electronics this year than in 2009.

    The driving forces behind this willingness to open one’s wallet are the iPad, the Kindle and MP3 players. In fact, tablets like the iPad are in even higher demand than HDTVs.

    Smartphones are also performing well this year. Android phones, in particular, have seen massive popularity. U.S. Cellular sold 130,000 Android phones in the third-quarter of 2010 alone, and shows no signs of slowing down.

    Seniors looking for that last-minute gift should take this information to heart. Traditional gifts like clothes are losing favor to high-tech gadgets, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg to get a great gift. Some devices like MP3 players may have great prices as the battle against smart phones and the music market continues.

    Gadget-specific electronic chargers sometimes seem like more of a hinderance than a help. While they provide our gadgets with more battery life and power, they can be a hassle to keep track of. Seniors might confuse one charger with another or lose the proper adaptor all together. This becomes particularly problematic for elderly travelers who need their gadgets on the road but are prone to misplacing or misidentifying chargers while on the go.

    Universal chargers, which have the capability to charge multiple products, can help remedy this problem. Not all universal chargers work the same way: some are solar-powered, while others are electronically-powered. Also, the term “universal” is a bit of a misnomer because a universal cellphone charger probably won’t be able to juice up your remote control. Nevertheless, universal chargers still let you streamline and simplify your charging needs.

    On that note, we present to you the top five universal chargers for seniors:

    1. Solio Classic Universal Hybrid Charger
    There are many reasons to love the Solio Classic Universal Hybrid Charger. First of all, it is compact and light-weight. It weights only 5.6 ounces and measures 4.7 x 1.3 x 2.5 inches; throw it in a bag and take it with you on your travels.

    Additionally, it stores power from the sun, which lets you charge multiple items: mobile phone, MP3 players, GPS, Bluetooth earpieces, or portable game systems. The solar-power option is particularly useful if you live in an area that is sprone to power outages. If you can’t rely upon sunlight though, then you have the option to charge from a USB port.

    For more information or to order the Solio Classic Universal Hybrid Charger, see Amazon.com.

    2. Solio Classic Hybrid Solar Charger
    This is another great solar charger. While it provides the same lightweight versatility and mobility (it measures s 4.7 x 1.3 x 2.5-inches and weighs 78 grams) as the Solio Classic Universal Hybrid Charger, it is compatible with more gadgets. In fact, it supposedly works with over 3,200 devices.

    Furthermore, there are three different ways to charge a gadget with this device: directly from the sun using the solar cell, with your computer using a USB cable, or with a wall charger. We should also note that in case you are interested in learning more about the inner working of solar power, this product comes with a “Art of Solar Charging” guide.

    For more information or to order the Solio Classic Hybrid Solar Charger, see Amazon.com.

    3. Multi-Use Vehicle Charger with Dual USB Ports and Dual 12 Volt Sockets – Magnadyne

    Unlike the previously mentioned models, the Magnadyne charger is not solar charged. It is a traditional power socket that is supposed to be used in the car: plug the charger into the car’s cigarette lighter and then you can power up to four devices at once. It is mostly frequently used to charge iPods, Blackberrys, Bluetooth devices, or cell phones. The Magnadyne charger is easy to transport from one car to the next if desired, measuring 4 x 3 x 1.5 inches and weighing only one pound.

    For more information or to order the Multi-Use Vehicle Charger with Dual USB Ports and Dual 12 Volt Sockets – Magnadyne, seeAmazon.com.

    4. Powermonkey PowerTraveller Portable Charger

    Powermonkey PowerTraveller Portable Charger might be one of the smallest, chargers available, measuring only 9.9 x 2.3 x 4.7 inches and weighing 0.3 ounces. Yet, this agile charger is quite reliable and helps to charge up devices typically up to eight hours. It is compatible with most PDAs, mobile phones, and older iPods, though not with iPhones or newer iPods. Plug the cable into the respective device and you can rest assured that your gadget will get juice up.

    For more information or to order the Powermonkey PowerTraveller Portable Charger, see Amazon.com.

    5. Griffin PowerBlock Dual Universal Charger for MP3 Players and USB Devices

    The Griffin charger allows you to power two USB devices at the same time through a wall outlet. It is perfect for travelers that want to streamline their accessories: the device is quite portable as it measures 5.1 x 1.6 x 6.5 inches and weighs only 2 pounds. When you are not using it, the blades fold flat for easy-storage. The charger also comes with an LED light that glows green when it is connected to a power-source, so you know when you can charge up your accessories. Keep in mind though that the charger only works with USB-compatible gadgets

    For more information or to order the Griffin PowerBlock Dual Universal Charger for MP3 Players and USB Devices, see Amazon.com

    The Samsung YP-S2 is a small, lightweight personal music player that is shaped a little like a pebble, designed to even be worn around the neck. It’s small, about 1-2/3 inches in diameter and a little over a half-inch thick. It can play most compressed formats, including MP3, WMA, and OGG files, for up to 13 hours on a charge. The LED along the bottom edge flashes various colors and patterns based on the playback mode chosen. It holds up to 1GB of music, which can be quite a lot of songs depending on the size of the files.

    The controls are simple and on one side of the player, including play/pause, volume and playback options. It comes with earbud headphones and a USB cable, and software that allows you to dial in graphic equalizer controls if you want to really fine-tune the sound.

    For more information on the Samsung YP-S2-ZB, see Amazon.com.

    Read our Senior Friendly Guide to MP3 players.

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