GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

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The Lowdown

“Able to navigate a tablet but not well enough to do it alone” is the niche where the GrandPad lives, and in that respect, they’ve done an impressive job. The GrandPad is easy to use, easy to navigate, easy to set up, and easy to administrate. While you’re definitely paying more for that user experience, if it’s that or not staying in touch with grandma, then the GrandPad is worth the cost.

Overall
4

Pros

  • The user interface is incredibly easy to navigate
  • Impossible to get lost trying to figure out how to find games, music, and other entertainment options
  • Video calling was simple to execute
  • The ability to monitor and troubleshoot from afar via the companion app or website is fantastic
  • Wireless charging cradle makes it very easy to keep the tablet on display
  • Thoughtfully includes a stylus
  • Cellular service makes the setup and continued use smooth and easy

Cons

  • I would like to see the admin option have more detailed information on the battery, location, and cellular service
  • The overall package is robust, but it will be too expensive for some budgets
  • It would be nice if larger sized GrandPads were available, as the 8″ display might feel a little small even with the large print
GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness Listen to this article

Many years ago, my grandmother had a computer. She was super excited to keep in touch with me when I went to college, and she mostly used it to email me and play solitaire. Unfortunately, it eventually proved too complex for her, and she reluctantly gave it up. Technology has made a huge leap forward in the intervening 20 years, and now people have significantly more options for keeping in touch with elderly relatives. GrandPad thinks they have developed a smooth and easy way to keep grandparents and families connected. Does it work? Read on to find out!

A woman sits in a chair, looking at a GrandPad tablet

The idea behind GrandPad is that it’s a lot for a non-tech savvy person (let’s call them “Grandma” for the sake of this review) to handle an iPad, a Meta Portal, or an Echo Show. In fact, on more than one occasion, my aunt has discussed giving my 94-year-old grandmother an iPad, and every time it comes up, everyone else in the family vociferously vetoes it.

It’s not that Grandma can’t figure out the basics of FaceTime, but unless the iPad is locked down to just FaceTime, she’s bound to end up getting confused, and then one of us has to figure out how to play tech support from afar.

We’re definitely not the only family who deals with this issue.

GrandPad video call in action

GrandPad is different; it’s an 8″ tablet running a heavily locked down operating system that can be managed remotely from a smartphone or computer or via a call to the GrandPad operator. The interface uses big, easy-to-touch icons, and the navigation system is designed to be simple to understand.

Getting lost in submenus or confused about how to get back to the home screen is nearly impossible. They also thoughtfully include a stylus and touch support, which is a nice nod to accessibility.

The GrandPad administrator app is excellent. You can add photos and send them over to the linked GrandPad; if you have a major milestone and want to share it with Grandma, it’s super easy to push the photos to her and just tell her to open one app on her tablet. That’s far easier than email or text!

In addition, you can enable and disable apps on demand. So if Grandma needs to use Zoom for a family chat but normally doesn’t, you can activate it as required and otherwise hide it, making the everyday navigation less complex.

The running joke in my family is that we’re super glad my one grandparent never learned how to use WebMD, or she would have diagnosed herself with all sorts of ailments. If that’s a concern point for you, then you’ll be glad to know that it is possible to curate or restrict internet browsing. You can also monitor how long someone is on the tablet, what apps they’re using, and even control their access to the internet.

Again, none of this is to censor or infantilize an elderly relative; the goal here is to make it as dead simple as possible for them to stay connected and for you to be able to help them if you can’t be physically present.

GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

I was able to test GrandPad as both the user and the administrator. My original intention had been for my grandmother to test it with me, but unfortunately, her assisted living facility is on lockdown due to coronavirus. Instead, I enlisted my girlfriend’s dog to act as my video chat subject/model (please admire his side-eye).

GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

Navigating the GrandPad is insanely simple despite the enormous number of features. You can browse articles, check out stock videos and photos, play games, browse the web, and even use the rear camera like a magnifying glass. It’s impossible to get lost in the interface as every app and screen has a nice big “back to [prior screen]” at the bottom.

Each section of the GrandPad is quite robust. The games are also excellent. They clearly put a lot of effort and thought into their design and created multiple streams of content that refresh daily but are quite easy to navigate.

I was especially impressed with how easy it was to navigate the word search and crossword games, as those are often tough interfaces even for “regular” tablets, but the GrandPad handled them perfectly. I can’t imagine a scenario where you handed this to someone who is reasonably comfortable touching a screen or holding a stylus and there being any issues.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

GrandPad absolutely knocked it out of the park on the user interface.

GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

Despite all the praise, I do have some concerns about the GrandPad.

The hardware is nice enough, but at it’s a small tablet. That’s fine for some seniors, but the 8″ display might feel a little small even with the large print. It would be nice if GrandPad were available in a 10″ or 12″ tablet size as well.

My other concern is that this hinges heavily on continued support from the company; if at any point you don’t continue to pay for GrandPad or they merge with another company or alter their course, you’re likely to be stuck with a locked-down tablet.

GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

I also don’t love that there is no way for an administrator to get “under the hood” of the tablet itself, even to check for software updates or see the battery life/storage space.

The tablet died on me after a few days of not in the charging cradle, and I was able to charge it via USB-C on the go, but a way for the admin to see the battery level would be nice. Along those same lines, it would be great if there were some sort of GPS/find my tablet feature for the admin, either to track a loved one who took the tablet with them or to help if it gets misplaced.

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It would also be great if the tablet had some way to indicate the level of cellular signal it was receiving. Again, this is more from the admin perspective, but being able to hit a button and seeing that the user is in a dead spot would make troubleshooting go a lot more quickly.

GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

None of that is my main issue, though; the main problem here is cost. If you buy GrandPad from Amazon, it’s $399 upfront with three months of service included, after which it costs $59/month. That does include 24/7 support as well as the wireless 4G connection, but it’s still steep.

Buying it directly from GrandPad is also pricey — you’re looking at either prepaying $780 for the year (including the hardware) or $89/month (also including the hardware).

If you go through GrandPad, everything is insured, and whether from Amazon or GrandPad directly, the internet and all the support are included in the annual or monthly costs.

GrandPad Review: Stay in Touch with Loved Ones No Matter Their Tech-Savvyness

That’s … not exactly inexpensive.

A simple iPad with cellular will run around $459 up front, and then whatever the cost is for a plan — let’s assume it can be added to a family plan for roughly $15/month. If you’re close enough to play tech support or your family member is reasonably okay with technology, that will be a much cheaper option. However, that assumes someone is close by, or the user will be able to handle the basics of a tablet.

“Able to navigate a tablet but not well enough to do it alone” is the niche where the GrandPad lives, and in that respect, they’ve done an impressive job. The GrandPad is easy to use, easy to navigate, easy to set up, and easy to administrate. While you’re definitely paying more for that user experience, if it’s that or not staying in touch with grandma, then the GrandPad is worth the cost.

The GrandPad Starts at $399 with three months of service; it is available directly from the manufacturer and Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer provided review sample and service plan

What I Like: The user interface is incredibly easy to navigate; Impossible to get lost trying to figure out how to find games, music, and other entertainment options; Video calling was simple to execute; The ability to monitor and troubleshoot from afar via the companion app or website is fantastic; Wireless charging cradle makes it very easy to keep the tablet on display; Thoughtfully includes a stylus; Cellular service makes the setup and continued use smooth and easy

What Needs Improvement: I would like to see the admin option have more detailed information on the battery, location, and cellular service; The overall package is robust, but it will be too expensive for some budgets; It would be nice if larger sized GrandPads were available, as the 8″ display might feel a little small even with the large print

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About the Author

Zek
Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?