AARP has entered the computer tablet market with their own version – the AARP RealPad. With a 7.85” HD display and at only about 5/16” thick, this looks and feels like a quality piece of hardware. Designed as an entry level tablet for the tablet neophyte, there is probably a huge market for this across the county.
In AARP’s advertising, they’ve created a bit of a firestorm, referring to their members as “tech apprehensive” and “tech wary.” Seems there are many who feel they are every bit as tech savvy as their children and take offense being lumped into any generalization pool with those less adept with portable devices.
It’s probably true that you’ll find tech guru’s in every age group, but by and large, there definitely are people in the over 50 crowd who “just don’t get it”; but, would like to. For them, the RealPad could be just the ticket.
AARP RealPad – the PRO’s
There’s a lot to like about the RealPad and it all starts when you remove it from the box. Setup is as easy as any tablet I’ve seen, and there are extra buttons for help and a series of informational videos to walk you through the most common computing concepts.
Watching video on the RealPad is a pleasure. The screen is bright and clear, and the screen size is suitable for most ever everyone with relatively normal eyesight.
AARP has added a series of pop-up icons at the bottom of the screen that can be invoked no matter where you are in your tablet applications. Access to AARP’s publications and financial planning, health and money tools is just a touch away.
24/7 Tech support is also available via email, via remote-help or via an 800 number. Just having someone on the other end of the line to talk to will be a huge advantage for some people who don’t understand the lingo and don’t even know the questions to ask.
There’s even a RealQuickFix icon to reset everything to factory original if all hell breaks loose. It will also analyze your battery health, Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth availability.
The RealPad comes with 16GB of memory but has the advantage of a micro SD slot to add more memory.
Front and rear cameras are both available on the tablet – 5 megapixel on the rear and 2 megapixel on the front.
I made a couple calls to the tech support line to see how well they were manned. Both times my call was answered promptly and I waited under a minute for help.
AARP RealPad – the CON’s
While the RealPad comes with Android 4.4 as an operating system, not all the Android 4.4 apps will work on the RealPad. First of all, GPS is limited. For example, Google Maps can find your location and plot you on its map, however, since the GPS functionality has been limited, you cannot use the tablet for turn-by-turn directions.
Not having full GPS capability also prevents loading any apps that require it, and those apps won’t even show up in the Play Store.
LTE is not an option – so you will need Wi-Fi for all your Internet connectivity.
Speakers are rather tinny – you’ll probably enjoy your audio a lot more with an powered headphones. Bluetooth 4.0 is an option luckily, if you want to stay wireless.or
No manual is available. Sure, gone are the days when you got a printed owner’s manual with your purchase, but just about every manufacturer I know issues an owner manual in PDF form, either on the device or downloadable. For some reason, there is none for the RealPad. UPDATE: I didn’t get one in my box, but I’ve been assured that manuals do come with each tablet. A PDF of the manual is also available. So, if you can’t find how to use a feature, or aren’t even sure if the feature is available on the RealPad, you will need to call tech support. That doesn’t seem sustainable to me. Many seniors I know actually do read the owner’s manuals and may be the last generation that ever did. In any event, without the owner’s manual, I’d guess there are many capabilities that will forever go undiscovered by the owners.
AARP REALPAD – so who’s it for?
More expensive than the Lenovo IdeaTab A8-50 or the Nexus 7 with similar specs, and less expensive than the iPad Mini, the RealPad is right in the midst of the tablet fray. Price aside, my feeling is that if you fit the “tech wary” description, and don’t have friends or family to help you get up to speed, the RealPad will probably be a great place for you to start. If you are comfortable with smartphones and want all the same functionality in your tablet, you might be better off with a tablet that isn’t limited in connectivity or GPS capabilities.
For more information or to order, head to the AARP website: http://www.aarprealpad.org/realpad or buy it at Walmart.