Truly! There is absolutely no age cut-off for learning a new technology. I mean, if a four-year-old can operate an iPad, there is absolutely no reason why that infant's grandmother or grandfather shouldn't be able to as well. After all, most if not all of our grandparents have used a typewriter at one point or another. And that's already a step above the kind of hands-on life experience a pre-schooler is working with.
My grandmother got her first computer eight years ago. A big Dell desktop, which she's used for mostly email and basic web browsing. Sure, back in 2004, this might have been fine for her. But that machine is truly on its last legs -- in need of repairs too costly to justify, especially for a hulking monitor-and-tower combo that can't be easily brought anywhere.
Today I took my *grandmother to the Apple Store, to help her choose the right new machine on which to do her very basic computing. She was reluctant, to be sure.
"I don't know" she said to me over the phone. "I'd really rather read some consumer reports at the library before I make any big purchases." Then I reminded her where I work and told her to meet me at The Grove in an hour.
This has nothing to do with Apple elitism or favoritism or whatever else you're already thinking. For $US99, Apple's One-to-One program is an absolute bargain. Switching operating systems can be confusing enough when you've grown up using a computer; for someone my grandmother's age -- 85! -- the ability to pop in to the Apple Store for a 30-minute or hour-long lesson on using some feature or another on her new machine is seemingly invaluable.
Ultimately, we walked away with a new MacBook Air (13-inch, entry level everything, $1349), a new printer (because her eight-year-old printer is also on its last legs and isn't wireless, $109), One-to-One and Apple Care (because it's always better to splurge on AppleCare than to pay big $$$ for repairs after your 1-year warranty runs out).
The MBA is light and super portable, perfect for someone who plans to take advantage of One-to-One. Sure, if you're only sending email and getting MapQuest directions, the entry-level 11-inch MBA is a perfectly adequate machine. But let's not forget that ageing eyes require bigger fonts, bigger everything really -- the price discrepancy between the basic 11-inch and the basic 13-inch was a justifiable expense, in this case, just for those two extra diagonal inches alone.
Really, if my 85-year-old grandmother can learn how to wrangle Wi-Fi and adjust to the modern convenience that is the trackpad (and Gestures!), nobody has any excuse not to learn a new technology.
*Actual grandmother not pictured