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3 Thursday, March 26, 2020 13:24

What’s the best tablet for video calling grandma?

I want to get my grandma a tablet for easy video calling. She is elderly and needs to self-isolate, and she is already quite isolated after the recent death of her husband. I am not sure which tablet or which program to use. She isn’t very computer literate.This new Facebook thing looks good but I am sceptical of the brand.

ChrisVideo calling used to be a futuristic topic. Today, it is readily available on most devices except, oddly enough, smart TVs. If anything, there’s a plethora of services, and I haven’t tried most of them. The options include Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype and many more.

Zoom is a business service but it works well and is clearly flavour of the month, with downloads up by 1,270%. Fake backgrounds are one of its winning features.In this case, I recommend going with whatever you know best. You’re probably going to have to do remote telephone support and the more familiar you are with a system, the easier that will be.

If you can get the same equipment at both ends, even better. If you have to start from scratch, try it out with someone else and find the tricky bits before involving grandma.I can understand the appeal of the Facebook Portal because it is designed for the job. The smart cameras and tracking are far better than you get in most home speaker-type devices.

You can make video calls via WhatsApp as well as Facebook Messenger, and it has Amazon’s Alexa built in. The drawbacks are that it involves using Facebook, it is expensive, and you are bound to have privacy concerns. (I assume grandma isn’t using Facebook now as you’d probably have tried Facebook Messenger as the most obvious option.

)The version that could swing it for some people is Portal TV from Facebook (£149), which doesn’t have a screen. It plugs into your TV set and works with its own small remote as well as its “Hey Portal” voice control.Google’s Nest Hub Max (£219) is similar to the standalone Portal. It has a good 6.5 megapixel camera, a 10in screen and a voice-controlled Google Assistant, but it also comes with privacy concerns.

They all do.Amazon’s Echo Show
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Amazon’s Echo Show comes in a variety of sizes, including with a 5in screen (front right) and with a 10in screen (back centre). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The GuardianFortunately, there is an alternative that I can recommend and use myself: Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo Show.

At least with Amazon I’m a paying customer, whereas Google and Facebook make most of their money from surveillance-based advertising. I think it’s the lesser of three evils, but the final choice is up to you.There are three Echo Show options with 5in (£79.99), 8in (£99.99) and 10in (£198.99) screens.

. Bigger screens are better, but the 8in version is the best value for money and, in my experience, the 5in model works well enough.You set up an Alexa Show from a smartphone app and give it access to your contacts list. After that you will be able.....


News Code: 407986  |  The Guardian
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