AARP RealPadWe’ve always been skeptical of those “RealPad” ads in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) magazine. But readers tell us this senior version of a tablet computer is really neat.  RealPad simplifies the user experience. If you can put up with a shorter battery life and a less zippy performance, it could be for you.

According to user reviews, the major attractions are round-the-clock tech support, video tutorials, and decent front and back cameras. The tablet itself is about five by eight inches and at 13.8 ounces feels fairly light. The screen resolution isn’t as good as the iPad’s, but the price is better:  $149, compared to the iPad Mini 3’s $399, or $230 for refurbished iPad Minis at Amazon. Viewing angles are poor, however; it’s hard for anyone except the person holding the device to read the screen.

The RealPad speaker doesn’t provide much volume but you can remedy this by plugging in a portable speakers. Our current favorite is “JBL micro ultraportable,” for about $28, which we sometimes use with our iPad Mini.

On the upside, a button labeled “Real Quick Fix” fixes many problems. Free tech support, provided by AARP, can connect to the device remotely to fix any problems that Quick Fix can’t handle. An AARP button gives you quick access to AARP tools, like “drug interaction checker,” “retirement calculator,” and “credit card payoff calculator,” but you can also get these by going to their web site: AARP.org.

RealPad comes with a free membership to AARP for one year. And how’s this for cute: the keyboard has a “smiley” button.

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