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erat_forte

Computer Advice Wanted - Tablet Plus Mobile Data Sim?

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I'm sure some of you lot here will have opinions and experience with this kind of thing!

An acquaintance/realtive who is a bit "simple", lives alone with lots of social support, recently got a simple payg mobile phone and is managing to keep it charged up and use it for voice calls but not texts.

They have vague ideas of getting a computer for email, shopping, etc.

My first thought was an ipad. Any suggestions or recommendations? Apple or Android? Value for money? I presume a mobile sim is a lot less hassle than trying to set up a wireless network in their flat? What kinds of prices should we look for for a data-only sim? How big a risk is accidentally signing up for things that quietly get added to the sim bill? Any other options for this kind of super-low-tech kind of user?

I know nothing about mobile data and tablets, stuck firmly in the IT world of 10 years ago!

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I'm sure some of you lot here will have opinions and experience with this kind of thing!

An acquaintance/realtive who is a bit "simple", lives alone with lots of social support, recently got a simple payg mobile phone and is managing to keep it charged up and use it for voice calls but not texts.

They have vague ideas of getting a computer for email, shopping, etc.

My first thought was an ipad. Any suggestions or recommendations? Apple or Android? Value for money? I presume a mobile sim is a lot less hassle than trying to set up a wireless network in their flat? What kinds of prices should we look for for a data-only sim? How big a risk is accidentally signing up for things that quietly get added to the sim bill? Any other options for this kind of super-low-tech kind of user?

I know nothing about mobile data and tablets, stuck firmly in the IT world of 10 years ago!

Go for an iPad. It doesn't have to be the latest one, and could be second hand if money's a problem. As StainlessSteelCat mentioned in another thread, even those who have the most difficulty with modern technology can often cope with an iPad. My 77-year-old mother-in-law, who tried but failed to make use of a mobile phone, has taken to hers like a duck to a similie. Now she keeps telling me about all the wonderful stuff she's found on the internet as though it's her private treasure trove.

Although I usually favour Android stuff myself, due to the better performance to price ratio, I'd still recommend Apple gadgets to less technically-oriented people since they tend to be just that little bit more polished and easy to use. Loads of other people use them too, so there's plenty of informal support out there.

Also, I'd stick to a wireless network in the flat for the sake of cost and simplicity. They're very easy to set up nowadays and make sense for someone who is normally at home. Your relative can use his/her phone to phone, and it's not that likely from what you say that they want to be emailing on the iPad while on the move.

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....or you could go for a MiFi dongle - either PAYG or contract. No need for a landline (& broadband), and it gives you more options on which tablet you can go for.

All they do, is to create a wifi hotspot with it, then you connect what you want to it..

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Get an iPad.

It is more expensive than an equivalent Android one, but it does work properly and consistently. More than that, the user interface is lovely and it's the best match for beginners. A Windows one won't suit a beginner anywhere near so well.

You can get the iPad with WiFi only or with WiFi + mobile connectivity built in.

I would go for the former because I don't spent that much time away from home, when I do, I can probably use WiFi (e.g. in a hotel).

If they already have a broadband service then this is probably the best option.

If not, and they want to go the data-SIM route, I'd recommend PAYG on Three if it's available - believe it's still £2.99 per day for 500MB so you only pay on the days when you want to use it. No commitment, so a good way to try it out - if you use more then it's £25 for 7GB on PAYG.

But then I have a personal aversion to contracts for things like this which can run up huge bills without warning and always prefer PAYG for such services.

Note: of all the mobile networks, Three 3G has the worst in-building performance because of the frequency set it uses. For instance a dongle on the window sill upstairs here will normally return about 18Meg down/3Meg up. Take the dongle downstairs and it doesn't even find a network.

Check the operators' sites for coverage - they're usually fairly truthful, and http://sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk/ will enable you to see where the most local cells are by operator.

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Get an iPad.

It is more expensive than an equivalent Android one, but it does work properly and consistently. More than that, the user interface is lovely and it's the best match for beginners. A Windows one won't suit a beginner anywhere near so well.

You can get the iPad with WiFi only or with WiFi + mobile connectivity built in.

I would go for the former because I don't spent that much time away from home, when I do, I can probably use WiFi (e.g. in a hotel).

If they already have a broadband service then this is probably the best option.

If not, and they want to go the data-SIM route, I'd recommend PAYG on Three if it's available - believe it's still £2.99 per day for 500MB so you only pay on the days when you want to use it. No commitment, so a good way to try it out - if you use more then it's £25 for 7GB on PAYG.

But then I have a personal aversion to contracts for things like this which can run up huge bills without warning and always prefer PAYG for such services.

Note: of all the mobile networks, Three 3G has the worst in-building performance because of the frequency set it uses. For instance a dongle on the window sill upstairs here will normally return about 18Meg down/3Meg up. Take the dongle downstairs and it doesn't even find a network.

Check the operators' sites for coverage - they're usually fairly truthful, and http://sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk/ will enable you to see where the most local cells are by operator.

Might that not be that your device has the problem, rather than the provider? I've been with Three for ten years, and they haven't put a foot wrong (and I'm using a knackered 3GS at the mo too)..

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Might that not be that your device has the problem, rather than the provider? I've been with Three for ten years, and they haven't put a foot wrong (and I'm using a knackered 3GS at the mo too)..

If you live in a modern house with windows on all sides and a tall cell quite close by then performance will vary in different rooms, but not by so much.

If you live in a stone built cottage with 14" thick walls and small windows with the wall that faces the cell having no windows, and the cell is 2.7km away, this is when it's a problem.

For example O2, crap though it is, manages a signal anywhere in the house even though the cell is significantly further away, Three only works upstairs near a window.

Your suggestion of the Mi-Fi device solves this anyway since you put *that* on the window sill where it gets the strongest signal.

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If not, and they want to go the data-SIM route, I'd recommend PAYG on Three if it's available - believe it's still £2.99 per day for 500MB so you only pay on the days when you want to use it. No commitment, so a good way to try it out - if you use more then it's £25 for 7GB on PAYG.

Thanks, sounds like iPad is the way to go (I had thought Android tablets would be better). Secondhand older model might be just the thing.

That's more than I was thinking for mobile use I guess... but they dont have broadband and dont use the landline (might not even be connected as far as I know). They're in a built up residential area towards the edge of a town.

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Thanks, sounds like iPad is the way to go (I had thought Android tablets would be better). Secondhand older model might be just the thing.

That's more than I was thinking for mobile use I guess... but they dont have broadband and dont use the landline (might not even be connected as far as I know). They're in a built up residential area towards the edge of a town.

If I were to buy an Android tablet, I'd be looking at something like an Sony Xperia Tablet Z or even a Nexus 7...You can get a new IPad Retina 9.7" for £320 quid (Apple has just relaunched it) so you'd be looking at anything between £250-£280 2nd hand...

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As others have noted, I think the Apple iPad is the way to go. I've seen a lot of people who never got computers, get to grips with an iPad very quickly. Being able to point and touch rather than move a mouse is the key difference although other things like a single window being displayed at a time undoubtedly help.

Consider Amazon perhaps or even Apple/other refurbished store. Most of the major names, like Argos, also have eBay outlets for refurbished goods.

Check out retina but on the smaller iPads I could not tell the difference and not an essential on the bigger ones either. If they have any motor/eyesight problems - consider the bigger iPad. Might be less easy to lose too.

One you have it - consider installing adblockers. They may reduce the temptation of accidentally clicking on scammy adverts and reduce the mobile bill to boot.

My biggest worry would be spam email for them. If they struggle with texting, they will struggle with distinguishing a good email from a bad 'un. The major providers like gmail are brilliant but the odd one still slips by from time to time. Perhaps access could be supervised.

I only mention because my non-British wife who is very clever but not street smart has been caught out a couple of times. She's savvier now - but she did once sign up for a time share by clicking on a banner ad in Yahoo and also downloaded malware to improve the internet connection when we were on dial up (and ran up an £800 phone bill as a result).

There is also a danger of buying lots of apps (i.e. games) via the App Store - but a credit card will be required rather than it being added to the phone bill.

The internet is not a terribly safe place for the naive or unknowledgeable I'm afraid.

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As others have noted, I think the Apple iPad is the way to go. I've seen a lot of people who never got computers, get to grips with an iPad very quickly. Being able to point and touch rather than move a mouse is the key difference although other things like a single window being displayed at a time undoubtedly help.

Consider Amazon perhaps or even Apple/other refurbished store. Most of the major names, like Argos, also have eBay outlets for refurbished goods.

Check out retina but on the smaller iPads I could not tell the difference and not an essential on the bigger ones either. If they have any motor/eyesight problems - consider the bigger iPad. Might be less easy to lose too.

One you have it - consider installing adblockers. They may reduce the temptation of accidentally clicking on scammy adverts and reduce the mobile bill to boot.

My biggest worry would be spam email for them. If they struggle with texting, they will struggle with distinguishing a good email from a bad 'un. The major providers like gmail are brilliant but the odd one still slips by from time to time. Perhaps access could be supervised.

I only mention because my non-British wife who is very clever but not street smart has been caught out a couple of times. She's savvier now - but she did once sign up for a time share by clicking on a banner ad in Yahoo and also downloaded malware to improve the internet connection when we were on dial up (and ran up an £800 phone bill as a result).

There is also a danger of buying lots of apps (i.e. games) via the App Store - but a credit card will be required rather than it being added to the phone bill.

The internet is not a terribly safe place for the naive or unknowledgeable I'm afraid.

Thanks - these are good warnings.

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