Is a Tablet Computer in Your Future?

by Deane Gradous

If a tablet computer is in your future, count yourself lucky. Two years ago our son convinced my husband to give me a Samsung tablet for my 83rd birthday. The tablet changed my life. I easily connected to the world-wide internet to satisfy my wish to define new words I encountered when reading, to see the lava flowing from an erupting volcano in Hawaii, and to research the names of bushes and plants that survive our cold Minnesota winters.

Where is that city in China? Easy. Look it up on Google. What should I do with this big squash from the Farmers' Market? No problem. Find a squash recipe on Yummly. Did I get any interesting email today? Simple. Touch the email button on the tablet. Oops! I forgot to send a birthday card to my nephew. Quick, email a personal greeting to Joel on his 19th birthday.

Learning how to use a new tablet is not instant, but it is fun. The buttons on the touch screen represent apps, small software programs that you click to go to places on the world-wide-web. The tablet comes pre-loaded with Google and other apps. After exploring what I could do with the apps that came with the tablet, I soon realized that I wanted more apps. I clicked the App store button and chose to download for free the Yummly, YouTube, and Pinterest apps. I need, and now actually use, only a few favorite apps.

Broadband access to the internet through WiFi is essential. Luckily, I have access through home-based broadband. I can't make phone calls on my tablet because I chose not to pay the monthly fee to access the internet via a cellphone carrier. For the same reason I cannot use Skype to see and talk to friends and relatives.

I can assure you that life becomes more interesting when you have instant access to the internet to answer all manner of questions and curiosities. For instance, I am a quilter who doesn't like to repeat my quilt creations. I use the tablet to find YouTube tutorials that teach how to sew different patterns for quilt blocks, and new ways to put quilt blocks together in a quilt. Life is never boring when YouTube videos on hobbies and traveling are just a touch away. Just the other day I spent three hours on the internet fully absorbed in demonstrations of food harvesting machinery, and the day before that in demonstrations of commercial food processing machinery. Where did these unusual interests come from? YouTube did it. Here's how. Every 10- to 20-minute video that you view on YouTube is followed by another one to sample and watch, or not. I watched the new videos that YouTube presented.

The tablet is portable. I can access the county library, select an ebook, and read it--all from a comfortable chair. I can take the tablet to the kitchen to view while I gather the ingredients for a recipe. I can take it to the sewing room to guide me through a quilting pattern. The screen on a tablet is larger than that on a smart phone. Videos are more fun to watch when I can see details.

How did I learn to use my new tablet? The way children learn new things. I played and explored by touching lots of buttons to see where they would take me. I learned from my son that I couldn't break my tablet unless I dropped it. Further, if I got confused or found an unpleasant website, all I had to do was hold the power button to turn the tablet totally off. The next time I pushed the power button to turn it on, the tablet started up good as new.

I hope someone gives you a tablet or you choose to give yourself one. It will be your way to learn and explore the world, to figure out how to do something new, to be entertained, and to change your life.