While researching the best tablets for seniors, I discovered the GrandPad, the one tablet that was specifically created for seniors. It is widely seen as having the most potential out of all the various tablets designed for seniors that are available today.
Why a tablet for seniors in the first place? Many seniors spend hours not speaking with anyone and feel left out of family activities, especially if relatives live far away. This loneliness affects physical and psychological health. The GrandPad team claims to have taken a comprehensive look at the problems that seniors face with staying connected via modern technology and solved them.
The GrandPad tablet considers the disabilities that seniors may have, namely vision changes, hearing changes, and memory issues. However, there’s one more important disability that GrandPad considers: potential psychological problems of loneliness that result from not being connected. We are all meant to be social beings. Isolation kills.
Is the GrandPad worth the cost? Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take a look.
Pros of the GrandPad
No doubt, the GrandPad has some positive attributes that you’re not going to find with mass-produced, everyday tablets from companies like Apple and Amazon.
Designed for simplicity, the instructions are equally simple. Even the box has instructions for how to open it, with a phone number on the outside flap in case the seniors need help immediately. The creators of GrandPad say they followed a 90-90 philosophy when developing the device, meaning an average 90-year-old should be able to open and begin using the GrandPad within 90 seconds of receiving it.
A lofty goal? Maybe, but not by much. It’s certainly more simple than tablets designed for the general population.
Personalized Support for Seniors
The company has a designated “member experience” agent assigned to each GrandPad user. This is a real person, not a chat bot or email help or worse yet, an email support system. The “member experience” agent offers much more than tech support and can begin to build a relationship with individual GrandPad users.
The company agents have been known to even play games on the GrandPad tablet with users in order to get the acquainted to the device. This type of advanced customer service makes the device incredibly unique. To make it even easier, the senior can call customer service directly from the GrandPad by simply pressing the red “Help” button.
The company has 24/7/365 support with locations in several cities across the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The device is 8 inches long by about 5 inches wide. There’s a high-definition screen. It comes with a wireless charging cradle that the tablet sits on, which charges it while providing a no-touch option for using the device while washing dishes and doing other things. The device is not too heavy, either. And there is not a power button or on/off switch. Once the senior user opens the cover of the tablet, it turns on and when they close it, it turns off.
You can certainly find larger tablets, but this size is a decent middle-ground between convenience and visibility.
Unlimited Phone Calls
Seniors can make unlimited phone calls on their GrandPad to whomever is in their GrandPad address book as a trusted contact. The company calls this the “GrandPad Circle of Trust.” To make a call, the senior only needs to scroll or tap on the arrows to find the picture of the person they want to talk to. Then, click either the video call button or the audio call button.
The list of trusted contacts can be created by a GrandPad Family Administrator or by the senior user, depending on their preference, as well as physical and cognitive capabilities.
Family members and trusted contacts use the free GrandPad Companion App to connect with the senior user. For example, they can record photos or videos of family events, such as a wedding or a child’s sporting event, and post it to the GrandPad for the senior and anyone else on the list of contacts to view. In this way, it acts much like a private, family social media newsfeed.
The GrandPad can also be used to make phone calls outside the circle of contacts via a number pad that appears on the screen. This way, you can call a doctor’s office or pharmacy or even have a pizza delivered.
Voice or Keyboard Entry
The GrandPad does not need a keyboard or a mouse. Users can send a text or email using the built-in touch keyboard. In addition, the GrandPad comes with a stylus that can be used for people who have arthritis in their hands or who have trouble using a touchscreen due to dry skin, which is a factor of aging.
Built-in, Always-On Connectivity
Every GrandPad comes with built-in 4G LTE connectivity, so the senior does not need a router, broadband internet access, WiFi or the skills to manage these technology factors. This will help offset some of the costs of this device (more on that in a bit).
In addition to the built-in LTE, which comes at no extra cost to the user or family, the GrandPad can be used on WiFi, if available. The tablet is completely portable and can be taken with the senior and used anywhere.
Secure Internet Access to Protect Seniors
The GrandPad features a secure internet browser, which allows favorite websites to be bookmarked while reducing the potential for exposure to fraud and phishing scams. In addition to adding trusted sites to the built-in browser, the senior has access to a curated collection of news and articles to keep up with what’s happening in the world.
Music and Games for Better Brain Function
Music has many health benefits, including stimulating cognitive function and memory, and providing entertainment. That’s why the GrandPad features streaming music and games. There are now over 32 million songs across 15 musical genres to choose from on the GrandPad, and many are from the 1940’s to 1970’s. The GrandPad also recently released a new GrandPad streaming radio app that gives users access to music, news, and sports programming from local and national stations.
Meanwhile, GrandPad Radio features a DJ who shares news and information about important topics for seniors, conducts interviews with guests, and plays a variety of music genres and artists that are favorites among elderly adults.
The GrandPad includes over 18 free games, from Solitaire to Sudoku to Word Scramble to crossword puzzles, and even bingo. If a senior has to leave a game for an appointment, when they come back to it, they can pick up where they left off.
Although there are two loud front-facing speakers that allow the senior to control the external volume, headphones may also be plugged into the GrandPad for private listening.
Private Family Photo and Video Sharing
Anyone in the senior’s trusted network may upload photos that will show up on the senior’s tablet. People who are connected to the senior and who download the Companion App will also see the photos and images that are shared by other connections with the senior user.
The device can be set up to share Facebook or Instagram pictures, as well. When not in use, the senior can set the GrandPad to display the photos that have been shared as a looping slideshow, so the senior is always surrounded by pictures of people they love and trust.
Senior users can even leave a comment on a photo without using the keyboard. They just click the button to leave an audio comment about a photo or video and it is recorded and shared with everyone in the circle of trust. For friends and family members, these audio comments can become lasting memories of elderly loved ones.
Easy Navigation with Large Icons and Large Print
The GrandPad is easy for the visually impaired to use. The icons are large and crisp, and there are never too many choices on the screen at one time for the user to sort through and choose from. The use of colors helps differentiate topics.
Users navigate by swiping or tapping buttons. The font size of the words can be easily changed with the touch of a screen. The web browser is also easy to use.
The senior can type or speak emails and because of the GrandPad circle of trust, spam and junk emails do not get through to the senior. They only receive emails from safe senders. Each GrandPad user receives a personal email address, such as email@example.com. Emails are securely stored in the GrandPad cloud.
Unlike weather reports you access online, the GrandPad gives you a 5-day forecast for your location AND the locations of where your friends and family are. So, when you call your granddaughter in Montana, you can see what the weather is like in her world.
No Special Training Needed
You don’t need much training for the GrandPad. Everything has been simplified to the point where it’s easy to figure out. However, if help or training is needed, all you have to do is press the red “Help” button on the GrandPad and the Member Experience Agents will answer your questions. The GrandPad brings a senior with virtually no tech skills up to par within a few days – and that’s an accomplishment that’s hard to beat.
No device, no matter how great, comes without its set of downsides. The GrandPad is no exception.
The GrandPad is a subscription service that can be paid for on a monthly or annual basis. If paid for in full up front, the cost works out to $58 per month. If you choose to pay as you go each month, the cost is $79 per month. So, assuming the annual payment, you are looking at $696 a year. That’s not exactly inexpensive, but all of the included services come at their own cost.
That cost includes the tablet, stylus, all apps, built-in 4G LTE data package, phone and video calling, and 24-hour support. GrandPad offers a price chart comparison if that helps your decision making process.
May Be Too Simple
If you (or your elder loved one) has used a computer or smartphone successfully for several years, you may feel the GrandPad is too simple. However, even people who are skilled at using technology find benefit in the GrandPad as they age and experience limitations in vision, hearing, and dexterity.
Not Right for Everyone
The GrandPad is great for those who have a big family or existing circle of friends. For seniors who have few remaining family members or friends, they may be able to connect via GrandPad to other seniors in their communities through local organizations like an Area Agency on Aging, a public library, or a PACE clinic, with which GrandPad currently partners.
The GrandPad is a unique tablet designed specifically for older adults. To that end, it comes with features that would not be appropriate for younger users but that older adults might benefit from. If the monthly subscription charge is not too steep, it could be the best tablet for a senior.
Exited at first but then disappointed to learn that every caller has to to have access to the companion app in order to call Moms GrandPad. – this does not work for my 87 year old mom trying to have her 85-95 year old non-computer user friends call her from a landline. Sending unit back. This needs to be highlighted on promotional materials.
Following up – the info I received was wrong – any number programmed in the GrandPad can be called. There is separate support for CC in general and the Grand Pad specifically. – make sure you get the right dept – Kerry was wonderful – device works well and really is easy!
We bought a GP for my mom in 2020 when my dad was still in a nursing home, and she wasn’t allowed to visit him. It worked great for video calls -about 6 months and then the spotty service started…all having to do with the connection issue. I’ve seen other comments about the AT&T “tower issue” and even Consumer Cellular customer service reps informed us of that problem…albeit after several calls where my poor mom was on the line for almost 2 hours at a time.
This was Sooooooooo disappointing from a company that purports itself to simplify things for seniors. This device was a godsend at first but they won’t fix the “tower” issue so for most of this subscription we’ve pretty much been paying the $40 a month for her to have emails and occasionally check the weather…if the service wasn’t spotty that day. Plus they’ve downsized their support for specific GP users. You call now and talk to a kid who only knows cell phones, then suggests you get wifi for this device….because the 4G you’re paying for every month doesn’t work anymore. Thanks AT&T!!! So in 2022, would not recommend. Can’t believe they’re still promoting it on their website but they won’t fix the connectivity issue…which was the entire point!!!
Was told GP connects with T-Mobile LTE. All of a sudden “no internet connection” is error message. What if theres now only 5G? Then this is now a useless device?
Purchased this for my father and was paying monthly for data plan so we could video chat since he doesn’t have internet. Worked great initially and we loved being able to send photos directly to the device for him. However at some point the service from consumer cellular went downhill and the connectivity was awful. We were never able to use it because it wouldn’t keep a connection. Not only did they never fix the issue but they refused to refund any of my monthly payments because he was “technically using it” (only to play solitaire and attempting to call me on it which they counted as “use” even though we couldn’t see or hear each other). If it were an option to use it through a company other than consumer cellular for data I’d keep paying monthly but I had to cancel because I was paying for a service that stopped working. Now that the data is disconnected the device won’t even allow him to play solitaire without the data connection which is disappointing because I did, after all, purchase the device and it wasn’t cheap. Very disappointed with consumer cellular.
Grandpad are great, unless your loved one is not here to use anymore, then it becomes a useless device. I purchased one for my mom during COVID which made it much easier for her to use than a phone. She passed a couple of months later, and I have no use for the device, but it cannot be used for anything else. A total wait of money. Have tried selling no one wants a tablet that you can only use for one thing. Wish I had done more research before buying…my loss!
Consumer Cellular does not support pre-owned Grandpads. So buyer beware, do not purchase pre-owned. CC wants you to purchase directly from them.
Bruce A Morrison’s GrandPad subscription is through Consumer Cellular. If you subscribe directly through GrandPad, you receive 24/7 support. There are a few differences when it comes to subscribing through GrandPad vs Consumer Cellular:
The GrandPad subscriptions include insurance with free replacement of the device, charger, and accessories, 24-hour support, song downloads, 4G LTE network connection, multi-party Zoom feature, and our agent outreach throughout the subscription.
Through Consumer Cellular, you would purchase the device (which you cannot use as a regular tablet, it is made specifically for GrandPad software and can’t be wiped and reformatted for another operating system), insurance is an additional cost, and they don’t offer free accessories (with free replacements), like the stylus, grips and screen cloth, 24-hour support, 4G LTE network connection, and only 50 free song downloads with the option to purchase more.
I don’t know where Kerry Sue got our Grand Pad subscription information?????!!!! We subscribed through Grand Pad…got 24/7 customer support and were happy with it for quite some time. Eventually when 5G was brought on-line the trouble started. Where my Mother-in-law lived, GP was received from AT&T towers. AT&T was not working well with the “Data Packs” that GP used…it was explained to us that the GP does not receive like a regular phone does and the Data Packs and the AT&T tower issue was not being resolved. Any time we called customer service, they were very sympathetic and helpful. They could always connect us, but as soon as “That” service call was done…the next attempt at connecting replayed the same scenario. My Mother-in-law just could not handle it and we had to drop the GP and get her a phone instead…had to be a simple phone but have not had “tears” over calling issues since.
We’ve had my Mother-in-law on a Grand Pad for about a year and a half now…its been great and its been not-so-great. There is no 24 hour service…if so its been hidden from us. Our Mother-in-law has never had a computer or smart phone so she is totally clueless. However, she did start fairly well in using it, but she’s 92 and her thought process isn’t the best, so she has issues with it still. Right now she can’t seem to video cat with us and we cannot just “call” her…we get a message when we try saying “This person is not accepting calls at this time, please try again later”. Well that doesn’t sit well with my wife! And her Mother prefers the “video” calls…if that doesn’t work (which it hasn’t for a few days now) she gets VERY upset! The tech people are friendly and seem really willing to help, but when you live “Hours” away from the senior, you are very limited as to what you can do. I’m not as excited about it any longer…just too much emotional stress long distance trying to help out when things don’t work like they should.
Thank you for that response. Hearing firsthand experience is very helpful.
If it’s anything like a “WOW” computer for seniors it will be greatly under powered and grossly expensive.
It doesn’t seem to be very easily portable as far as taking out of the home. It’s too big for a pocket and too small for an iPad case. Maybe a woman’s purse, but what about a man?
Maybe a very small laptop case?
Saw all the PROS; where are the CONS because I suspect there are many????
The cons are listed in the article: cost, too simple for some, not right for everyone.
Who is the manufacturer? Does it have a sim slot, SD card slot, how much memory, what is OS.
I’d like to know that too..