Every day I spend time listening to NPR, reading the newspapers, and skimming through a number of go-to websites for article ideas and inspiration. When I first started Modern-Senior and really began focusing on issues related to aging and baby boomers, I would often head over to the AARP site assuming that they would be a good resource. It quickly become apparent that AARP is full of fluff pieces and more concerned with making money than advocating for the rights of older Americans.
What is the RealPad?
This sneaking suspicion has been further validated by the recent launch of AARP’s RealPad, an Android tablet that is being marketed to the over 50 crowd. As soon as I caught wind of this new product, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What is the point?” What additional features could they possible include that would make this product better for seniors than any other tablet? After reading through various reviews and learning more about the product specifications, it turns out that the only purpose of this tablet is to make AARP more money.
Admittedly, I don’t have any design experience, but it makes sense to me that the most obvious feature of a tablet for seniors would be a big screen to make everything easier to read. However, the RealPad only has a 7.85 inch display, which is comparable to the mini versions of other tablets. Beyond screen size, I really can’t think of anything you could do that would make an inherently intuitive piece of technology easier to use. Apparently, AARP couldn’t think of anything either.
Advantages of the RealPad?
The main difference between the RealPad is that is comes already loaded with AARP apps that appear as a toolbar at the bottom of the homepage. None of this adds to the usability of the product. It simply provides an AARP design product that can work as a vehicle for other AARP products.
At the very least, you would think that they would offer a great deal on this unimpressive model, right? Not so much. Most popular tablets will cost you less than the $189 price tag of the RealPad and if you really have your heart set on those AARP apps, you can download most of them for free.
The big selling point for the RealPad is supposed to be that it is perfect for those who are late to or uncomfortable with technology. While that might be great from a marketing perspective, there is no substance behind the claim. If you are unfamiliar with technology, you have to start somewhere and the RealPad offers no advantages over any other tablet. Yes, there will be a learning curve if you aren’t used to computers or touchscreens, but when it comes to ease of use and intuitive design, there is nothing friendlier than a tablet.
Does AARP Have Your Best Interest in Mind?
This brings me back around to questioning the motives of AARP. By all appearances, they have become an organization that demonstrates a lack of respect for their members by publishing articles and creating products that lack substance. I know that they are a powerful lobbying group for older and retired Americans, but I can’t help but wonder if they are choosing the best ways to raise funds in order to be able to act as an advocate.
For further reading, take a look at the essay “Why I’m Cancelling my AARP Membership,” by John Blumenthal.
You can also visit my post “Great Deals on Tablets for Seniors” for other recommendations.