My mother-in-law wants this! (For her birthday, you understand)
Big phone, big buttons
My 79-year-old mother-in-law recently started computer lessons, mostly to help her go Googling and maybe, just maybe to send emails to fellow members of her bowls club. After many years as a computer-denier, she now sees the point – but computer mice will remain ever horrible to her.
Don’t get her started on mobile phones - the menus are confusing, she can’t see the screen so well and the number buttons are much too small. Besides, who needs a camera on your phone when you have a camera? And why send or receive a text when you ring up and speak?
She wants one of these – a Doro PhoneEasy 338GSM, designed specifically for the "senior market" (our review is here). This has a phone book she understands how to use and buttons that can be hotwired to key numbers, such as the AA.
My mother-in-law is not poor by any means, but given that she switches on her phone only when travelling, she can’t understand why it should cost almost £100!.
At least we know what to get her for her eightieth.
Cold on calls
This makes my mother-in-law, or maybe me the buyer, prime territory for Doro, a Swedish company, which today released the results of a survey into mobile phone usage and attitudes towards new consumer technologies of 2000 old people (65yrs and above) in various rich countries.
Conducted by a market research firm called Synovate, the survey reveals that 77 per cent of "seniors" in the UK have access to a mobile phone, but that 49 per cent are intimidated by and hesitant of new technology. British oldies use their mobile phone mostly to make calls (73 per cent) and secondly for text messages (37 per cent). Unsurprisingly, respondents aged 75 and above are less likely to own a mobile phone (about two-thirds have one) than those aged 65-74 (more than 90 per cent).
Doro’s pitch is that phones designed with old people in mind encourage their owners to call and use services to a much greater extent. This in turn improves the "quality of their lives and encourage social engagement – this ensures that the individual retains a support network of family and friends”.
There are an awful lot of old people and their eyesight, hearing and dexterity rarely improves with age. So there should be strong market for senior market phones today - if the cellcos learn how to promote them.
But what about old people of the future, the young of today? They will want internet, email, social networking, games, sundry apps, camera, and they will know their way around a phone menu and a big touchscreen. Big buttons would be nice too. ®
Thanks, I'll have one. I only need a telephone, not a wanking status symbol to annoy people with.
Thank you very much, I'll have one. I only need a telephone, not a wanking status symbol to annoy people with.
I've had mobile/cell phones of all types since their inception. And before the cell phone I had a Motorola brick in the car (if you don't know what that is then you're only a cell phone neophyte). I've used all the different gadgets and attention-seeking crap that comes with the latest phones 3G etc .etc. and most of it is ineffective, expensive junk to show off with.
1. On my 3G, I have had both SMS and Internet access turned off at the telco, they're just a waste of time money. For starters, the keys and screen are too small and fiddly to use it successfully. Moreover, SMS is the greatest rip-off of all time (as I've pointed out previously on these pages, NASA can get the same ASCII text across the solar system for less cost per byte than you can get the same SMS message the lounge room).
1.1 SMS, originally designed for telco maintenance purposes, is so limited that it's nigh on useless for anything serious. Of course, the lower your IQ the more you'll use it.
1.2 SMS is addictive and dangerous--between people walking into glass doors and crashing whilst driving, SMS is a damn danger. I'm not worried about the idiots who use SMS whilst driving but I am worried about them running into me. SMS used by someone else is a danger to me. OK!
2. Ergonomically, Internet-access cell phones are a real mess, Internet access from them, whether email or the Web, is essentially useless as the screen is so small. Even netbook PCs have a problem with the vertical resolution being insufficient (normally netbooks are 600px high and you usually need a minimum of 768 for most Web pages). If you are using Web access on a cell phone for any serious work then you're kidding yourself. More than likely, the only 'serious' Internet work your cell phone will ever get is when you enter mine's-bigger-than-yours competitions with mates in the pub or restaurant (whilst annoying other patrons). If you do need to access the Internet whilst on the fly, then I'd suggest you contact a time management consultant.
2.1 Accessing email and Web pages via cell phones whilst driving is just as dangerous as SMS texting whilst driving (again, I've a vested interest in that you don't run into me). Only last week I saw a bloke very nearly killed as he obliviously walked across a 6-lane road whilst SMS texting. Vehicles went everywhere to avoid him (unfortunately this type of incident is now commonplace.)
2.2 It is impossible to turn off the Internet and SMS access in many 3G mobile/cell phones. And even if you have Internet access disarmed at the telco the damn things still insist in trying to contact the now 'non-existent' Web. Of course, this annoying automatic Web connecting is set up to charge you every time the phone goes though a Web-seeking exercise.
2.3 Haven't time here to discuss all the other techie issues about cell phone ergonomics--or the lack thereof, nor of the serious problem of Internet and cell phone addiction. Now recognized as a large social problem. And I'll just briefly mention the annoyance that cell phone users cause to others in public places by using them at inappropriate times.
2.4 Do you have cell phone addiction? Try this test: if you left home without your cell phone and you were about a mile away before you realise it, would you turn back or not? If so, you've a social problem. Sorry.
2.5 These time-wasting, distracting, addictive buggery boxes are designed to not only waste time but primarily to fleece out of you as much money as is humanly possible. Yet, having such a wanky toy for many users (suckers) makes them think they're being hip. How mistaken they are, as with all fashion, time will come when the cell phone will be about as popular as the once-fashionable cigarette.
2.6. If you really must play with the Internet in public then buy a 3G connected netbook, at least it's practical and usable (and they're unlikely to come with a name that's associated with silkworm food).
2.7 If you disagree with my comments--and I'm sure many will--then ask yourself what you did before you had an Internet-connected cell phone--right, how did you ever cope without one [but you did somehow]. Second, if you find yourself flaunting your cell phone and/or Internet addiction in public or at inappropriate times then I'd suggest that you carefully examine your lifestyle. You may eventually realize how stupid and dumb you really look glued to a little plastic box in public. You might even realize how it's stuffing up your life too.
In the meantime, I'll be very satisfied with a single-function, voice-only, portable telephone which I can use in an emergency.
bad interface design can make anyone feel like an idiot
Funny, because no more than 20 minutes ago I was completely defeated by a badly designed microwave.
It took no less than 2 minutes for me to open the door, because they had stealthed button in attempt to make the front look sexier. There wasn't so much as a symbol printed on the plstice component you had to push. Any attempt to type a time duration into the damn thing resulted in it defaulting to the presets printed on the numbers instead. Hence I am sat here drinking my cold coffee.
It's not as if a microwave is even an alien concept to me - I've consistently owned one since the ver early ninties.
This is what interface design is all about. You pick a motiff, and you stick with it.
The easiest phone I've ever used was my Erricson PF768 (later becoming the T10). Beyond the numbers, it had 5 command buttons. Up, Down, YES NO, and Clear, all printed in bright, large letters. When it rang, the screen flashed up "Answer?".
I don't care how old you are, if you couldn't figure out which button to press for that, there's something wrong with you.
Eyes start going age 40 to 45
Forget age 75, the tiny lettering problem with phones and other electronics begins much sooner, usually age 45.
The eyes start going age 40 to 45. By age 50 almost all people who previously required glasses need bifocals. And people who didn't previously require glasses need reading glasses.
Reading glasses are a pain, putting them on, taking them off, maybe 50 times a day.
I've had the same mobile for 5 years. Every month I go looking at new ones, but I don't see what I'm looking for.
I want a proper phone, with an internal directory and so on, with buttons and a display I can read, even in low light, without putting on my reading glasses.