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Depositphotos_10408070-800w-300x300Once upon a time, the latest technological gadgets would have been exclusively grandchildren’s gifts rather than anything that the grandparent would have bothered with. However, the very fact that you are reading the Ask Granny ( website indicates that ‘silver surfers’ have long been mainstream by now, and that older people like yourself are now more familiar with the different types of computers… but have you caught onto the tablet computer craze yet?

Since the launch of the original iPad by Apple in early 2010, tablet computers have received a huge boost in popularity, having previously been mere niche devices. Put simply, tablet computers are portable touchscreen devices combining many of the strengths of both the laptop and the smartphone. Indeed, the iPad is much like the iPhone, Apple’s reinvention of the mobile phone that first appeared in 2007 and that allows users to surf the web and enjoy music and movies, among many other media.

Tablet computers are, though, somewhat larger, meaning that many people will use them like a laptop, typing out documents and reading spreadsheets in addition to using a rich assortment of other tailored ‘apps’. However, a tablet is still small enough to fit comfortably into many people’s bags. They’re definitely less cumbersome to handle than a laptop, as you can simply whip one out and use them immediately, helped by the fact that they turn on instantly. You could buy one to bring with you while on the train or in the back seat of a car, for example.

Indeed, far from mere gifts for grandchildren, tablet computers are being used more and more these days by the older generations for the consumption of all kinds of media. You could use your iPad to watch live TV, for example, or even to catch up on a favourite programme with an app like BBC iPlayer or Channel 4’s 4oD app. The ‘apps’ that are available on tablet devices can get much more adventurous than that, though, with many allowing you to make art or music, browse around a virtual museum, play games or even read ebooks. It seems that pretty much anything that could be done with a laptop can be done with a smaller, sleeker and sexier tablet computer.

If reading this grandparents blog entry has whetted your appetite, we’d recommend that you research the specifications of various models carefully, comparing them with prices. Is the brand a reputable one? How much memory does it have? What is the operating system? Play around with a few tablets in a shop, if you can, before searching online for the best deals. You may find that you get much better value from a used tablet, but bear in mind that updates may have ceased for an older model, or it may not be powerful enough to support certain popular apps.

Other than that, all that we can say here at the popular senior citizens online guide Ask Granny ( is… happy tablet shopping!