Simple Video Calling Devices for Tech-Challenged Seniors

April 15, 2018

Dear Savvy Senior,Are there any senior-friendly devices that you can recommend for video calling? I live about a day’s drive from my 83-year-old father and would like to see him more often but he doesn’t use a computer, tablet or a smartphone.

Searching Susan

Dear Susan,

Video chatting is a great way to stay connected and keep tabs on an elder parent when you can’t be there. There are various products on the market that offer simple video calling. Here are three to consider.

ViewClix: If interested in a device that requires no input from your dad, check out the ViewClix Smart Frame. This is a 15-inch digital picture frame with video calling capabilities designed specifically for seniors.

Ready to use right out of the box, this device lets family and friends make video calls and send photos directly to the ViewClix Smart Frame anytime from their smartphone, tablet or computer. To do this, simply download the free ViewClix app to devices.

All photos sent and video calls made to ViewClix are received automatically. This is a receiving device only. You cannot initiate video calls from his ViewClix.

The device is available at ViewClix.com or 800-304-4281 for $299 (Wi-Fi is required), or purchase their 4G Broadband model that works with T-Mobile if Wi-Fi is not available for $299, plus a $20 monthly broadband fee.

GrandPad: Another product that offers simple video calling, is the grandPad. This is an 8-inch touchscreen custom tablet designed for seniors, ages 75 and older. It comes with a stylus, charging stand and Verizon 4G LTE built-in so it works anywhere within the Verizon network. Home Wi-Fi is not necessary.

This tablet provides a simplified menu of big colorful icons and large text to only essential features, giving clutter-free, one-touch access to make and receive video calls and phone calls, send voice emails, view photos and videos, listen to personalized music, check the weather, play games and more. It does not offer Web browsing.

GrandPad also has a “Help” button that offers 24/7 phone/tablet remote assistance and it provides damage and theft insurance. Available at grandPad.net or call 800-704-9412, a grandPad leases for $66 per month, or $49 per month if you pay one year in advance.

Echo Show: The voice-activated Amazon Echo Show is another senior-friendly device for video chatting (Wi-Fi is required).

Available at Amazon.com for $230, the Echo Show has a 7-inch color touchscreen that lets people make and receive video calls to those who have their own device, or who have the free Amazon Alexa app installed on their smartphone or tablet.

Once you set up his contacts, to make a call your dad would simply say, “Alexa, call Susan.” And when a call comes in, he would ask Alexa to answer or ignore the call. There’s also a feature called “drop-in,” which could allow you and other preselected relatives or friends to video in to your dad’s device at any time without his input.

The Echo Show also offers a bevy of other features like voice-activated access to news, weather, his favorite music and more.