Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nokia 6085: another Good Handset for Seniors

I found another cellphone for seniors when I surfed on the web today. This time this handset was manufactured by Nokia a company that has made its mark on the mobile phone industry by offering easy to use handsets. It's not surprising that Nokia phones have the potential to be suited for needs of the elderly.

The phone is the Nokia 6085 and it has many of the attributes that would make it a suitable mobile phone for senior citizens. This mobile phone was design to be release on the mass market and is not an elite or fashion phone. This also means that the Nokia 6085 offers a down to earth or simple design that makes it a good choice for seniors. Let's break down the attributes that makes it a good mobile phone for seniors.

Mobile phone reviewers have noted that this device offers good call quality making it suitable for seniors or any customer. Call quality is an essential attribute for any cell phone for seniors because the elderly use handsets primarily to make phone calls. They don't need phones that offer Mobile TV or other high-end features. They need a device that would help them make clear calls to their friends and family.

The Nokia 6085's 1.8-inch (128x160 pixels) internal display is subpar. The graphics and photos were grainy and the colors were dim. These description does not really help seniors who normally weak eyes. However, the handset makes up for it by offering simple and user friendly menus. No frills and basic menus are ideal for seniors who will have a hard time dealing with sophisticated menus. The fonts on the display can also be altered to help senior users to see the information displayed on the phone.

The navigation array and keypad on the Nokia 6085 are well-designed for use by senior users because they are easy to use. The keys are large and spaced far apart from each other. Seniors who use this phone will have no problem in dialing the number of friends and family or to navigate the menus.

The Nokia 6085 is often categories as a camera phone but its VGA built-in camera is not one of it's strong points. The camera features aren't too extensive and picture quality was strictly average. However, a camera is not a priority in choosing a cellphone for seniors so the 6085 is one of the best choices for senior citizen users. Tune in for more mobile phone seniors in my next posts.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Motorola ic502 Buzz: A Direct Connect Cell Phone for Seniors

I have mentioned in one of my posts that Sprint Nextel's Direct Connect mobile phones are popular with seniors because they need to push one button to connect to family and friends. I decided to take a closer look at one of these Direct Phones, the the Motorola ic502 to see why it's popular with elderly mobile phone customers.

However, before we can explore the phone I thin it would help to have some background knowledge on Sprint Nextel's Direct Connect service. This service allows customers to connect with co-workers, family and friends in under a second. How is this done? Simple, Direct Connect mobile phones allow users to make a call to anyone in the push-to-talk network by pressing a single button.

Now let's proceed with the Motorola ic502 or the Motorola Buzz. This handset is the first CDMA/iDEN hybrid phone. It uses iDEN for walkie-talkie functions and CDMA for voice and data. Let's explore the reasons why the Motorola ic502 is a popular cell phone for seniors.

I think that senior cititzens like this phone primarily of its Direct Connect capability. The Motorola Buzz supports Nextel's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service (including Group Connect, which lets you chat with up to 20 others at once, via PTT). It also has Direct Talk, which allows out-of-network walkie-talkie chat with another Direct Talk handset at a range of up to six miles.

Seniors Appreciate the simplicity that comes with the phone. They can make a call by simply pressing a button. And the best cellphones for seniors are simple or basic phones because they are easy to use. They don't have to go through complicated actions to make calls which is a benefit because seniors do not have the sharpest memories.

The design of the Motorola ic502 Buzz is also a factor that makes it a suitable mobile phone for senior citizens. It feels comfortable in the hand and has rubberized sidings that add some extra durability. More importantly, it has high resistance for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, low pressure and solar radiation. This means that it can withstand being dropped by the frail fingers of an elderly person.

This Sprint Direct Conjnect mobile phone for seniors also scores points with its navigation buttons and keypad. The Motorola Buzz have large buttons that are tactile and easy to use. It also has keypad buttons that are well-designed for use by the elderly. This handset has large and clearly separate keys. Dialing is easy with this phone because the keys are raised slightly above the surface of the phone. The weak eyes of senior citizens will benefit from backlit keys with large numerals.

It's easy to see why the Motorola ic502 is a popular cell phone for senior citizens. It's design fits the needs of senior users and it offers an easy and simple way to make calls.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mobile Speak: a Software Designed for Cell Phones for Seniors

In my last post I described AT&T efforts to reach senior cell phone users through mobile phones and services. One of the ways the company reached out to elderly companies was through the adaptation of the Universal Design. This led to the creation of good cell phones for seniors as well as other products and applications that can be beneficial to senior citizens.

One of these products senior-friendly products is called Mobile Speak. I hope to tackle this feature and see how it can help the elderly to use cellphones for seniors and other mobile phone related products.

Mobile Speak is a software designed to enhance the functionality of some of AT&T's most popular wireless devices for users with who are blind or have low vision. This type of softwares will obviously benefit seniors because elderly people have poor vision and some have unfortunately lost them due to sickness or old age.

AT&T's Mobile Speak is a powerful full-fledged screen reader that offers an easy-to-learn command structure. This software also offers intuitive speech feedback in several languages, and Braille support that can be used with or without speech.

This special screen reader for mobile phones for seniors automatically detects information that the blind user should know in a similar way a user with full sight would easily find highlighted items or key areas of the screen at a glance.

Mobile Speak supports these applications and functions:
  • Speed dial, call lists and contacts
  • Text messaging
  • Calendar, tasks, notes, and calculator
  • Internet browser
  • Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Voice Recorder, Media Player, voice speed dial and voice command
  • Phone/device settings, profiles, alarms, and ringtones

These are the curently supported devices which can be good mobile phones for seniors:
  • Cingular 3125
  • Nokia N75
  • Nokia E62
  • Samsung Blackjack (with Windows Mobile version 5)
  • Pantech Duo

There is no doubt that this software can enhance any mobile device that is designed for senior citizens. The ability to make it easier for seniors to read information is a key attribute for any cell phone for seniors. I will feature more softwares and services that are meant for seniors in my next posts.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Expanding Cell Phone Services for Seniors

The potential of senior citizens as a niche for mobile phone services became evident with the release of the Jitterbug cell phone that marketed as a simple device for the elderly. Mobile phone carriers have now launch programs directed towards seniors. These programs have also proven to be valuable not only to the elderly but also to those who have some sort of disability. Let us take a general look at the mobile phone services that are devoted to seniors.

Verizon Wireless is one of the carriers who have expanded on the concept of a cell phone for seniors. The carrier marketed it's own handset for older folks known as the Verizon Coupe or the UTStarcom Coupe 8630. This phone turned out to be popular even though it's a simple handset. It turned out that some consumers were not very interested in modern services like V CAST videos.

The carrier supplemented the Coupe with a wireless plan that is designed explicitly for seniors. Called the Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus offers 200 anytime minutes and 500 nights and weekends minutes for a monthly fee of only thirty dollars. Only seniors with the appropriate a proof of age can get this plan.

Sprint Nextel also made some steps to take advantage of the senior citizen market. However, the carrier opted to take a different approach and do not market to the elderly directly. Instead the carrier targets "basic communicators" and "voice dependents." These consumers are interested in no-frills handsets that are devoted to making calls.

Music downloads, web surfing and other high-end features are not the priority of these users. Sprint's Nextel Direct Connect phones like the Motorola ic502 have proven to be popular to seniors because they need to push one button to connect to family and friends.

Other Sprint phones that are not part of the Nextel Direct Connect like the Samsung M300 and Sanyo Katana II are considered good mobile phones for seniors. These handsets are no frills basic phones with big buttons that are ideal for frail persons.

Unlike Sprint, AT&T has been more aggressive in their campaign to attract senior cell phone users. For instance, the carrier launched the Senior Nation 200 plan which rivals Verizon's Nationwide 65 Plus as the best plan for the elderly. This plan offers similar features and pricing as Verizon's senior plan.

AT&T effort to reach senior cell phone users are not limited to wireless plans. The carrier has also embraced Universal Design. This is the practice of designing products and applications that are usable by the broadest possible range of consumers including the elderly.

This approach produced two senior-friendly products called the Mobile Magnifier and Mobile Speak. These are dessign to be beneficial for both customers with disabilities and senior citizens. Mobile Magnifier is a full-screen magnification application that helps users with poor eyesight while Mobile Speak is a screen reader that helps blind users detect useful information.

These are just some of the programs that have been created to cater to the needs of seniors. I'm sure that carriers will continue to develop devices and programs that will help senior citizens. I will feature this services in my future posts.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Mobile Phone Plan for Seniors from AT&T

After featuring wireless phones for seniors in this blog, I felt it's time for a bit of variety. So I decided to post about another mobile phone plan for senior citizens. A few weeks ago, I already posted about Verizon's Nationwide 65 Plus wireless plan for senior citizens. Now I'll blog about AT&T's version.

AT&T launched the Senior Nation 200 plan soon after Verizon released a special plan for the elderly. This was a logical plan for AT&T because allowing Verizon to run a monopoly on the senior wireless plan market might be a mistake. Both of these carriers are on top of the mobile phone service industry so it's not unusual for them to mirror each others programs.

AT&T's Senior Nation 200 Plan is designed to a offer cost-effective solution for seniors who want to stay in touch with friends and family. It offers a special price of $29.99 a month for the elderly. 200 00 Anytime Minutes, 500 Night & Weekend Minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling are included in this special plan.

Like most plans from AT&T, this plan offers no roaming or long distance fees. Elderly consumers will get three-way calling, call forwarding, caller ID, call waiting, and basic voice mail as included features in this plan. Senior customers are required to pay a one time $36.00 activation fee, and may pay an extra $.45 per minute for additional minutes. They also have to agree to a two-year contract commitment and present proof that are 65 years old or older.

Andy Wilson, AT&T's vice president of wireless consumer marketing made this comment regarding this special mobile phone plan, "AT&T provides service plans that focus on customer value, competitive pricing and convenient ways of keeping in touch. A voice package designed specifically for seniors helps make friends and loved ones across the country seem closer."

Compared to Verizon's mobile phone plan for seniors, AT&T's version is pretty much similar. They both offer 200 minutes for the about the same price. The features and benefits are also similar. I guess the choice boils down to the network's reliability or to your preference. Overall, it seems to me that AT&T's Senior Nation 200 plan is a great and benefificial cell phone plan for seniors.

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