View Full Version : The computer-independent iPad

9th February 2011, 03:36 PM
I've been searching for a computer solution for my grandmother for years, and the iPad seems like the best way to get her access to the kinds of things she wants to do with a computer, i.e. e-mail, web browsing, etc.

The problem is, my grandad is a bit of a computer hobbyist, and a particularly domineering sort. He's taken over the old computer we got for my grandma a while back, and she no longer gets to use it. Basically, the best computer for my grandma is one that she doesn't need access to another computer to use, and which grandad has no access to.

Obviously this makes the iPad a less-than-perfect solution, given its need for a computer for updates and syncing. So I'm interested in ideas for making the iPad as computer-independent as possible. The iPad's ease of use is what makes it good for my grandma, so anything that makes it less easy to use (e.g. jailbreaking) isn't a useful solution. In a pinch she can update iOS on other family members' computers if necessary, but that introduces its own issues (syncing apps, content, etc). She also lives a couple hours' drive from other family members, so it'd be inconvenient at best.

The other alternative we're considering is an 11" MacBook Air, but that'd be more complex and more expensive, even if it is similarly portable and more powerful. Either way, we're waiting on the new iPads to come out in April-ish before buying anything.

So, what ways are there to make an iPad computer-independent? Or are we really best to spend the extra money and deal with the extra complexity for the Air?

9th February 2011, 03:50 PM
You don't really need to sync the iPad unless you're doing an update and major updates aren't that often. You should visit your grandma more often anyways, hah

9th February 2011, 03:55 PM
You do need to sync it for updates, and to get content on there. And my grandma shouldn't have to wait until I visit to do stuff with her iPad. The point is to help her be more independent, not less.

9th February 2011, 03:55 PM
And if all she is doing is email and web browsing it is unlikely that any features added in future updates would be of much use.

I know to us the thought of running software not up to the minute is mind blowing but it shouldn't be much of a problem in this situation I wouldn't think.

9th February 2011, 03:58 PM
You do need to sync it for updates, and to get content on there. And my grandma shouldn't have to wait until I visit to do stuff with her iPad. The point is to help her be more independent, not less.

Content like TV shows and music? Just don't do those things.
She can still get stuff from the iTunes store via the iPad and there's YouTube and other music & video apps from the App Store.

Alternatively, just buy her a 2nd hand Intel iMac. 20" model shouldn't be too expensive. Or if you want a laptop, a 2nd hand MacBook. Both should be under $700 and then she has a full on computer. No need to spend $1500 on a MacBook Air if price is an issue.

9th February 2011, 04:22 PM
Look, the appeal of the iPad is its ease of use. An old MacBook has its own ease of use issues, even compared to a new MacBook. And portability is the other reason why the Air is appealing.

And why should my grandma just deal with old system software and sticking to e-mail and web browsing? The point is to find a technology solution that fits her circumstances, not to change those circumstances or restrict her options. 'just don't do those things' is not a helpful response.

If there's not a way to make the iPad sufficiently computer-independent, that's fine. In that case, the MacBook Air is the better option. I'm just curious to see if there's a way to make an iPad work for my grandma's circumstances.

9th February 2011, 04:28 PM
What do you want or expect your grandma to do with a computer? If it's making movies with Final Cut, then yeah, an iPad ain't gonna pass the test, but if she just wants to use the web & email, then an iPad is spot on.

9th February 2011, 04:43 PM
If you have Wi-Fi Internet for the iPad then you can:

- Do standard Internet things (email, web, youtube, etc)
- Download/install Apps from the AppStore
- Download new content from the iTunes stores (music, movies, TV, etc)
- Run apps installed on the iPad

All without needing to physically connect it to a computer. You can also charge it from an AC adaptor.

In that setup, the only time it needs to connect to a computer is to do major IOS updates - not all that frequent.

Beyond those uses, depends on what you want to do as to how effectively an iPad can do them.

If you want to download ChannelBT eps and load 'em up on the iPad then you'll need a computer at some point in that process - although I guess you could install AirVideo to get around some of this.


9th February 2011, 09:54 PM
although I guess you could install AirVideo to get around some of this.


Thus still needing a computer ;)

9th February 2011, 10:06 PM
ok, without using a computer to sync. as others have said she can DOWNLOAD movies/shows via itunes (thus paying for them and she will obviously need the bandwidth)
she can check email, browse the net and download/install apps without the need for syncing.

people have suggested and said this is what it can do and yet youve come back with "not change her circumstances"

its hard for us to help if your not specific on what shes going to do, in your first post you said web browsing, emails ect which to us implies that the ipad will be fine and we have outlined what you can do without syncing.

what EXACTLY would she be doing... will she need to edit/print photos? watch lots of video? read ebooks? a simple browse the net, check emails doesnt suffice when you blow off peoples replies.

10th February 2011, 10:32 AM
If computer syncing is the only issue that is stopping you getting the iPad then buy it. It won't be an issue. Your grandma won't have to change her circumtances. She will love it.

10th February 2011, 05:44 PM
I play 'Words with Friends' with a mates 94 year old for whom the 3g iPad is her first computer.

For her the iPad is perfect;
- simple enough (no folders, mice or hierarchical file system. You just touch it!)
- powerful enough to email, write a letter, surf most of the web, check the TV guide and read a book or two.

In this case she almost never needs to sync with a real computer which her grandson does twice a year.

11th February 2011, 03:35 PM
I have never updated my Ipad yet. By the sounds of it, thank god. To many people having problems with the later IOS versions. So far have not any problems at all. I am a 67 year old and I love my Ipad.