I finally figured out what iPad model to purchase for my 90-year-old dad as a Christmas 2013 present, and I thought I’d share my decision-making process here, just in case others are dealing with the same conundrum. My mom is under strict instructions to keep him away from this blog (he is a regular reader) until mid-day on December 25th.
Deciding what to buy as a replacement iPad took quite a bit of time and energy, mostly because a range of models are available at a range of prices. Below are some of the factors that contributed to my decision. At the end you can find out what we bought for dad’s Christmas present.
iPad Keyboard – Dad has an easy-to-use keyboard. He sets the iPad right into the 30-pin port and begins typing. His speaker system for music connects the same way. The newest iPad models come with the smaller lightning to USB connector. To change connections, he would need to change keyboards. Moreover, the newest keyboards are all bluetooth, and I really did not want my dad to have to add keeping track of bluetooth to his digital iPad tasks. We searched for keyboards that would connect the same way as his older one — just with smaller connections, but they just aren’t available.
iPad Camera – When the iPads originally came out, they did not have cameras. For some time members of our family have discussed how much fun it would for Dad to take pictures, and the learning curve for picture-taking is fairly short. So a camera that he can easily use is a big factor — and this was the main reason we decided to get him a new model iPad.
Upgrading to iOS 7 - Anyone who owns the oldest original iPads knows that they do not upgrade anymore. This means that the iOS 7 operating system does not work on his iPad. For quite a while this was not a problem. Now, however, his colleges are offering apps to alumni, and they work only with iOS 7. Also some of the news sites that he keeps track of also have the same issue.
iPad Models – The size of the regular iPads is a good fit for my dad. The smaller ones are too little for him to use easily. While the iPad mini with a retina display is great and would be a good screen for my own next purchase (Read my detached retina posts.), I did not think it made enough difference, given the smaller size, and because his eyesight is excellent — much better than mine. I did not consider the iPad Air with the retina display.
So what did I decide?
I decided to purchase the iPad II for $399. It meets all of our criteria. The camera will add another feature that he can easily master. It uses the same keyboard and speaker dock, and it will use the new system iOS 7. The only changes that dad has to make is to get used to the look and feel of the new system. The news and university apps that he wants to use will all work. He will not be using many of the iOS 7 bells and whistles, but if he discovers something or wants to learn something new — he can explore.
When I share my iPad II decision, just about everyone asks, “So what happens if Apple decides not to support the iPad II next year, system-wise?” My answer is that we will cross that bridge when we come to it. If all of the new apps work, they will continue working after any slowdown in system upgrades. The camera will work just fine for ages. He will be able to write on the yellow pad as usual — I have over 600 posts from the first three-plus iPad years — and I expect he will continue to write just as much. I believe that we will get several years of work and play out of Dad’s new iPad II.
Stay tuned. In my next post, iPad for Dad 26, I’ll be writing about how I am setting up Dad’s new iPad, and especially what I am doing differently this time around.