By Lisa Jevens
published in Chicago Tribune, Prime Time senior living
Whether you’re just catching up with the tech revolution or thinking of upgrading your current handheld gadgets, fall is the time to shop around. It’s the season when tech companies reveal their latest devices. This year there is a notable new tablet (hint: it’s not an iPad) and an improved “phablet” worth looking at. There are other easy-to-use devices for things like golf, exercise and reading too.
Designed to ease technology-shy boomers into the tablet era, this ultra user-friendly tablet was designed by AARP and Intel with the technology-apprehensive consumer in mind. Its built-in video tutorials get you started on touchscreen basics, searching the Internet, downloading apps, and setting up video calling and email accounts. The RealQuick Fix feature allows common tablet problems to fix themselves with a tap, including reconnecting to the Internet. The processor is made by Intel, which also built the software and the easy-to-read interface. It’s built on Google’s Android Platform KitKat 4.4., so it can run apps from the Google Play Store. The RealPad has a 7.85-inch HD screen and 16GB of memory. It will be sold only at Walmart for $189, and is due in stores Oct. 15. Preorder at aarprealpad.org.
SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 player
If you want a simple music player, audiobook player, and a radio to accompany you on walks or to the gym, the SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 Player will meet your needs for a fraction of the cost of an iPod. This lightweight, compact music player is operated by buttons and has a 1.44-inch color LCD screen. Its built-in FM tuner allows you to listen to the radio or sync it to the TVs at your health club. Its handy clip attaches to your gym shorts, hat, or pocket. The manufacturer promises 25 hours of battery life on a single charge. The SanDisk Clip Sport comes in six colors, and is available with 4GB or 8GB of memory. There is also a micro SDHC memory card slot for even more data storage space. Retails for $50 at electronics and big box stores.
Galaxy Note 4
If you want the readability of a tablet, the ability to write onscreen with a stylus, plus the utility of a phone all in one device, try this brand new phablet (hybrid phone and tablet) due Oct. 17. The Galaxy Note 4 is a faster, better-looking upgrade from last year’s version. Its 5.7-inch screen is Samsung’s first with quad HD, which means it has four times as many pixels as regular HD. The Note 4 also contains a faster processor and a 16-megapixel camera. A new feature, image stabilization, makes it easier to get clearer photos if your hands tend to shake. There’s also a new 3.7-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera to maximize those vacation selfies. Designers have made the Note 4 easier to use by giving quicker access to settings, and making stylus writing more fluid. The new Note 4 also comes with a built-in heart rate monitor. Simply launch the heart rate app and place your finger on the back camera for a few seconds. It costs $300 with a phone contract and $700 and up without one.
If you weren’t impressed with earlier Kindles, it might be time to reconsider — or upgrade. The top-rated e-reader, Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite 2013 is known for its easy reading experience in light or dark conditions, with the capacity to hold more than 1,000 books. The lightweight (7.3-ounce) compact reader is about the size of a paperback book, but far thinner. The Paperwhite’s screen has a higher-contrast, crisper black-and-white screen than the lower-cost basic Kindle, and better responsiveness. It’s designed for minimum eyestrain and ease of use with one hand. It also has a faster processor than previous Kindles. It should last two weeks on one charge with the Wi-Fi turned off, according to the manufacturer. Retails for $119 at Amazon.com and is also sold in electronics stores.
Garmin Approach G7 & G8
Garmins are not just for cars. They go with golf carts too. The Approach G7 (without WiFi) and G8 (includes WiFi) models are handheld golf gadgets that debuted in 2014. They come with 30,000 preloaded international golf courses, so they can show you your course on screen, hole by hole. While playing, the Approach uses technology to calculate the distance for each of your shots. It can even offer advice, because it remembers how far you hit the ball last time with a particular club and it knows how far you need to hit the next one. The Big Numbers view enhances readability on the 3-inch screen so you see without reading glasses. And of course, the Approach has electronic score keeping, and lots of other cool features. You can sync the G8 model to your phone to receive emails, calls and texts on the course. The Approach G7 sells for $300 and the Approach G8 for $400 at outdoor, golf and electronics retailers.