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Should your auntie buy an iPad?

Over at Macworld, Senior Editor Chris Breen has an answer to this all-important question: should your Aunt Vilma buy an iPad? Her name may be Rosalie or Helen instead of Vilma, or it may be a father or uncle, but you know the type -- a well-meaning older person who has seen all the "cool kids" in his or her age group getting one of these futuristic tablets and then asks you, the younger hipster with all of the latest gizmos, if buying one is a good idea.

As Breen notes, it's not an easy answer and people often don't find out how useful an iPad can be until they've used one for a while. Breen provided six areas of discussion for Aunt Vilma to consider before dropping the coin on an iPad:

Portability -- an iPad, especially an iPad mini, is made to be carried with you pretty much all the time. Portability means that you're able to use the device more often than a laptop or desktop located in a sewing room "office." A portable device can be a boon for gathering information or checking in with friends via Facebook, but it's also a barrier to interacting with real people.

Access -- Aunt Vilma or Uncle Elmer might find it helpful to know that by paying a monthly charge and about US$130 more on the upfront cost of an iPad, they can get a cellular model of iPad with access just about anywhere. That can be a real boon when traveling (at least in their home country), especially if they're concerned about the security of free WiFi networks.

Ease of Use -- Just about anyone can figure out an iPad in a few minutes. It's rare when I've seen anyone who couldn't do amazing things with an iPad after figuring out that tapping an icon does something... Breen says he thinks that it's also easier to troubleshoot an iPad. I agree -- once I got my dad to understand how to restart the iPad to fix just about any problem, he stopped calling for support.

Workspace -- If Aunt Vilma wasn't happy with trying to do things on that little iPhone screen, she'll be ecstatic with the larger keyboard on the iPad. There were a lot of "older folks" on the cruise that I was just on, and a lot of them were using iPads because "I can do everything I can do on my laptop (i.e., read my AOL mail and annoy my grandkids on Facebook) on a much lighter device."

He goes on mention the device's location services and, of course, apps. You can read all of Breen's thoughtful tips at Macword.com.

So what do you think? Is getting your "old" relative up and running on an iPad a good idea or a potential nightmare? Let's hear your feedback in the comments.

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