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  #1  
Old 07-02-2013, 04:57 PM
phxjcc phxjcc is offline
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WebTv Replacement for Elderly Parent

Long story short--
WebtV (aka MSN TV) just announced end of life for the WebTV product as of 9/30/2013.

So, Dopers, for a non-technology literate elderly (88 y.o.) parent, what do I get her?
Uses:
1. Email
2. Web surfing a couple hours per day.

An iPad with a cellular data plan?
3G is available in her area.

She will NOT get broadband installed into her home (don't ask--just a cranky old lady).

Any and all recommendations are welcome.

I am a former geek, so setup is not an issue, but I am completely inexperienced w.r.t. Aplle stuff.

Thanks

Last edited by phxjcc; 07-02-2013 at 04:57 PM..
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  #2  
Old 07-02-2013, 06:07 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is online now
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A personnel mi fi hotspot and a smart tv perhaps? I used to love my WebTV back in 1996. Had no idea it was still around.
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  #3  
Old 07-02-2013, 06:48 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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The iPad is perfect.
Simple to set up, easy to use, and hard to get "lost" with.
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  #4  
Old 07-02-2013, 07:26 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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Ipad is the way to go. She may even like the additional perk of being able to play solitaire and other games 88 y.o.s may like.
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  #5  
Old 07-02-2013, 07:40 PM
FeAudrey FeAudrey is offline
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I went through this with my mother, so know something about the issues with which you are dealing. We set her up with a laptop and and a DSL modem, and she used it for a while and then drifted back to the Web-TV.

What does your mother's current set-up look like? Does she have the Web-TV box hooked up to a television she also watches? Is the set a "smart TV"? (which can take an internet feed) Does she have cable?


She probably wants something that looks (and even makes noises) as much as possible like what she is used to dealing with. She may be afraid of pressing the wrong key and messing up something major.

A BIGGIE in the "unsettling experiences" department is sites with animations, pop-ups, drop-down menus, mouseover-triggered features -- clutter and un-expected display changes of all sorts.


My hardware recommendation would be a desktop box with a wireless keyboard and a monitor that looks like whatever television she's used to. For connectivity, a wireless DSL modem -- should be un-intimidating, and nothing is going to work over a dial-up line any more (Web-TV essentially strips out anything resource-heavy from pages visited).

I'd go with a PC/Windows set-up just because there is so much more software and support for it. Install Firefox with add-ons like Ad-Blocker to tame the clutter, customize something like a "My Yahoo" page for her with links to the stuff she uses frequently, set up whatever security you favor, and lock it all down so that she can't make changes.

Set auto updates for anything installed and WARN HER that the machine will sometimes sit there updating itself when she turns it on, she'll have to wait it out, and not to worry.


Set up a Yahoo e-mail for her, and forward anything she wants saved from the Web-TV mail to it. Rescue any bookmarked or favorited site addresses. This will be labor-intensive. The Web-TV manuals are out there somewhere.


If you can get her to use a manual, I favor the "Maran Illustrated" series. They use screen images as illustrations, making it easy to match up what you are seeing on the computer with what's being explained on the page.''
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  #6  
Old 07-02-2013, 07:43 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
A personnel mi fi hotspot and a smart tv perhaps? I used to love my WebTV back in 1996. Had no idea it was still around.
I think the OP is concerned more about the loss of 'Web' functions than 'TV'.

My 86 year old mom has been permanently attached to he iPad for over 3 years. Games, email and web - now Netflix. Especially Words with Friends and its built in text/chat function.

I would not do Netflix over 3G...could get pricey fast.
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  #7  
Old 07-02-2013, 10:16 PM
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A Chromebook or Chromebox that connects to her TV?

Nothing to really mess up, and she can't DO anything but email and web. Cheap, too, so if you wanted to you could use the savings to buy a huge monitor to blow up all the fonts on.
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  #8  
Old 07-02-2013, 10:24 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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iPads and the like could be problematic for arthritic fingers, and even if the fingers are still supple iti s still a whole new way of interacting with the interface to learn.

If she has an irrational bee in her bonnet about "broadband", could you maybe get around it by calling it something else, like "cable internet" or "DSL"? (Presumably she must have already had such a connection for her Web TV anyway.)
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  #9  
Old 07-03-2013, 06:23 PM
MeeHungLowe MeeHungLowe is offline
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I have this exact same task ahead of me. My 85 year old parents have been on WebTV for many years - and the only thing they use it for is email. They cannot get broadband at their home (they are out in the boonies). They have a laptop that they use just to play simple games. I am thinking of using a 4G USB card or 4G MiFi box. I'm not sure if they will like reading emails on the laptop - their eyesight is not very good these days. They have a 46" Sony TV to use with the WebTV. I'm also concerned about them connecting with 4G, then forgetting to disconnect and possibly get hit with high data charges. The fragility of the USB cards is also a concern.

Does anyone know if any of the MiFi boxes can be set to disconnect after an inactivity period?
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  #10  
Old 07-03-2013, 06:48 PM
LibrarySpy LibrarySpy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt
iPads and the like could be problematic for arthritic fingers, and even if the fingers are still supple iti s still a whole new way of interacting with the interface to learn.
Anecdotal, but we just bought an iPad for the 88 year old matriarch and she LOVES IT. And she's cranky. That's what I would recommend. It's very intuitive.
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2013, 07:36 PM
FeAudrey FeAudrey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeHungLowe View Post
... their eyesight is not very good these days ...
Check the "Ease of Access Center" under "Control Panel" for low-vision adaptions (including "narrator", which reads aloud).
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2013, 08:58 PM
phxjcc phxjcc is offline
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To all:

No, she has no broadband or cable, the WebTV is accessed via dial up on her POTS line.

The TV she has is an old 12" tube, definitely not internet ready.

It looks like we are looking at going from $10/month for WebTV to > $50/month (minimum) for a cell modem for a laptop or a cellular digital plan for a tablet? That is ridiculous.
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  #13  
Old 07-03-2013, 09:02 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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The 250MB/month iPad data plan is around $14/month.
Should be enough, if she doesn't watch videos on it.
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  #14  
Old 07-04-2013, 11:05 AM
CC CC is offline
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Get a Chromebook. My wife only used her laptop (which died, dead) for checking her e-mail, doing Facebook, and doing various web-based stuff, mainly shopping and researching fashion (she's in that business). She doesn't write documents, she doesn't create documents of any kind, she just uses the internet. The Chromebook, which cost about $250 is perfect. It's on the moment you open it. One click gets you to the internet. IF you decide to create some documents, it has Google Docs, and some storage space, and you can even use the cloud to store stuff. But if that's not your mom's deal, then get the Chromebook and be done with it. By the way, it has an actual keyboard, and also a mousepad that takes a tiny bit of getting used to. I-pads are fine. And expensive.
Oh, I just re-read your post. You do have to have some sort of internet connection available so it can find it via wi-fi connection. I suppose that could obviate my suggestion.

Last edited by CC; 07-04-2013 at 11:08 AM..
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  #15  
Old 07-04-2013, 11:11 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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She's on dialup? So her couple hours of web surfing a day is just a few pages?

Does she have nearby neighbors? Pay them to set up a wifi hotspot that she can get onto.
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  #16  
Old 07-04-2013, 01:16 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obfusciatrist View Post
She's on dialup? So her couple hours of web surfing a day is just a few pages?

Does she have nearby neighbors? Pay them to set up a wifi hotspot that she can get onto.
That is a great idea - even if it means a new more powerful router or WiFi booster for the neighbor. Give them the $10/month.
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  #17  
Old 07-07-2013, 06:10 PM
FeAudrey FeAudrey is offline
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MSN-TV now has a FAQ for the closure:

http://www.msntv.com/msntv2/ClosureFAQ.asp
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  #18  
Old 07-09-2013, 01:32 PM
control-z control-z is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
The 250MB/month iPad data plan is around $14/month.
Should be enough, if she doesn't watch videos on it.
250MB per month would only be good for e-mail, with few or no pictures. You can easily use 250MB of data in an hour of web surfing.
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  #19  
Old 08-03-2013, 03:04 PM
LadyDale LadyDale is offline
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I am having the same issue. My X has eye issues and wants only email and search the web capacities. HE needs to use a TV screen as his vision is going. I do not know why MSN would close down this vital item for older folks that simply cannot do icons and need to use a large TV to see. Someone needs to do a reset and buy it out, bring it back and leave it alone. Old folks have vision, and change problems. Little pads are too hard to see and extra applications are not of any use. THe so called Senior computers are both expensive and still have icons and set screen sizes. Web for Will was set up to work on a 32 inch tv, was no problem with viruses, and no storage issues. Just kept him in touch with family and let him use Amazon.com so he could get foods he liked and blankets ect. That is still a needed item..
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  #20  
Old 08-03-2013, 06:06 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyDale View Post
I do not know why MSN would close down this vital item for older folks that simply cannot do icons and need to use a large TV to see.
Because they're not making any money off of it. That's really the ONLY reason (other than an irrational hatred of the product by a new CEO) any company is going to discontinue a product line. If it were producing a profit, MSN would not be shutting it down. (Also because, frankly, it's the buggy whip of the dot.com era...completely obsolete. From personal experience, I wouldn't be surprised if 90% of the modern web is out of reach of the WebTV/MSNTV due to technical issues.)

Last edited by jayjay; 08-03-2013 at 06:08 PM..
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