The American Association of Retired Persons is now selling a tablet aimed at people over the age of 50 who might not be comfortable just buying any old tablet. The AARP RealPad is a $189 tablet which is about the size of an iPad mini, but which runs Google Android 4.4 with a custom app launcher featuring large icons.

It also comes preloaded with an AARP app, games, tools, and a few other features.

But overall it’s just a normal Android tablet with a custom skin. And you can find plenty of tablets for well under $189.


The AARP RealPad is available for pre-order from Walmart, but I’m not sure you should buy it.

The RealPad’s specs are pretty mediocre. The tablet has a 7.85 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel display, a 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z2520 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, a 5MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, and GPS.

It measures 0.31″ thick and weighs about 14 ounces.

While AARP is positioning the tablet as an easy-to-use option for folks that might be uncomfortable with technology, the truth is a normal iPad or Android tablet is pretty easy to use… and the RealPad’s only real contribution seems to be slightly larger buttons and a toolbar at the bottom of the home screen that takes you to AARP apps.

You can buy pretty much any Android tablet and install the free AARP apps from the Google Play Store.

If there’s one good reason to consider buying the RealPad over a different tablet, it’s that AARP offers 24/7 live customer support.

Of course you could also buy an Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and get 24/7 video support from Amazon’s MayDay service as well as a faster processor, higher-resolution display, and more RAM. But the Kindle Fire HDX is a slightly higher priced tablet.

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38 replies on “AARP RealPad is an unnecessary Android tablet for seniors”

  1. I’ve had several Android phones and two Kindles in the past 10 years, and have worked with both Mac and PC computers since 1980. My son bought this for an elderly relative who had no interest (and no Wifi), so he gave it to me, and I have to say, it’s not bad. I’m always looking for a better battery function for these devices, and compared to my vintage Fire tablet, this one is far better. I guess it’s planned obsolescence so I’m okay with that.

    My question is: Who manufactures this Real Pad? (Notice the highlighted R and P in its documentation is pronounced AARP?) Does Amazon make it, or another company? I know Apple doesn’t. It was too inexpensive.

    Thanks for anyone who can answer.

  2. First of all, the RealPad costs $149 NOT $189. I’ve had mine for a week, and I really love it. My only complaint is the speaker sound — it’s tinney. I’m using RealPad a lot for audio books, and the listening quality is annoying and sharp. I’m going to buy a cheap little speaker and see if that helps. Otherwise, the RealPad is a winner in my book.

  3. My 92 year old mother started using a computer about
    15 years ago. I bought her a Real Pad for Christmas and she was thrilled to have this new, small device
    so readily be at hand.

    I have adjusted all the “accessible” features, however, arthritic hands and fading vision make is impossible to turn the device on and off with the teeeeeeny button at the top right side of the device, and the black case makes it ever so much more difficult to find and align the charging cord in order to plug it in.

    The volume is too low, even if she is wearing her hearing aids, and though a headset helps, the volume is still too low for comfortable listening, with or without hearing aids.

    The touchscreen is so sensitive that accidentally brushing it anywhere takes the user to a new screen or app. Insensitive hands and fingers cannot hold the device without accidentally touching the icons at the bottom edge of the screen. Annoying and frustrating!

    The home screen icons are larger than what came with my Galaxy tablet, however, the rest of the icons, especially those around the perimeter of the screen (for drop down menus, notifications, etc) are so small that large, arthritic and clumsy fingers that have lost their sensitivity and fine motor control have a hard time touching the desired icon. This is true even with a stylus, since hand-eye coordination is also affected by age.

    I’m upset that it is so difficult for my mother to use her Real Pad, and am sorry I just didn’t get her a Galaxy or iPad, which at least has more power, storage and capability.

  4. first off, anyone who joins aarp should immediately go get mental help, cause this company degrades older people to make money,,NONE of their so called discount items, services insurance etc etc is worth half what they charge,they are in business for 1 reason,,they are a leftist liberal hak obama company that preys off so called “idiot seniors” who are to stupid to figure out how to dial a phone or call 911,,they have supported obama and his thugs on every issue,,they are bought and paid for by the Liberal mentalists out there…remember the gubment knows best whats good for you and your family,,,these same elderly are going to be the first to be euthanized by obamacare.. when the time comes,,,,so you who join are cutting your own throats and your familys in the future,,,way to go greatest generation of all time,,,yuk

    1. Doug, I believe that some of what you say is true. I resisted their barrage of mail for years urging me to join. Then 2 years ago my car insurance agent told me that I could save $200 a year on the same coverage if I paid the $16 to join AARP. I looked into it. She was right. I joined.

  5. Real pad does not service the tablets – even if it is damaged due to poor quality – so be prepared to throw away your $189 investment. Real pad does not even answer customer questions by phone or email. You might get support at AARP on how to use the tablet but don’t expect to be able to use it for very long. I have had other brands which are much better quality. I had trouble with the charger and that was the end of the tablet after only owning it for less than 6 months. The end.

  6. I agree with the comments about ‘old people’ tablets, but the price for specs seems about right, at least comparing to newegg offerings

  7. I love the real pad over my ipad mini. It picks up the wi-fi signal in my house better. It is fun to use. Sound could be louder. Just easier and smoother. Recommend for all ages. Hats off to AARP.

  8. Okay, but with a regular tablet, just how would I find such apps as RealQuick Fix tool, and the various self help videos? If I had these I would buy a different android tablet for the wife. Thank you.

  9. I do NOT want any monthly plan..will be satisfied to use public wi-fi areas. Is that possible with this or other similar gadgets?

    1. Yes, I’m using it off of my home wi-fi. You can also connect where ever there is wi-fi.

  10. AARP is selling these just to make a quick buck, just like any other capitalistic business taking advantage of the tablet, while it’s still hot.
    The reality is that the generation that they are marketing these to, (50+), are the people who have lived their entire adult working life with computers.
    It’s not so much that these people are “afraid” of technology, as much as they are tired of it from having to use it there entire careers!
    This age group from age 50+ through 85, (especially if they were in electronics manufacturing), are the people who developed and designed the first integrated circuits, lcd displays, personal computers, touch screen technologies, and cell phones.
    The only helpful features for a person 50+ due to macular degeneration and hearing loss:
    1. Big Fonts
    2. 24/7 support, by a human voice
    Any reasonable android tablet that costs over $100, and any Apple or Kindle Fire tablet is far better than this slow poke device. Any person, (not just 50_ folks), considering this would do far better to walk into a warehouse store like Costco or Sams and purchase the cheapest Samsung android tablet, (or buy any Apple or Kindle Fire tablet), then install the free AARP apps, (if desired). Change the icon and text settings to large, (if required), and they are good to go.

  11. 24×7 tech support is worth some premium, especially if the alternative is that you the gift-giver have to do the tech support.

  12. I think this tablet sounds fabulous. I am in the market to buy a new tablet,
    but don’t want to spend a lot of money and want a tablet that is very user friendly. My girlfriend told me about this tablet she saw in AARP. I was very hesitant, but read about this for days before ordering one. Features I like are having bigger icons, bigger print,24/7 customer support, user friendly, and lightweight.
    I have a smart phone from Metro PCS that costs only $40 per month ( including taxes) that works great. If I have a problem, I can call or go directly to Metro for help. My laptop is a Lenova that works great, but I still need a computer guru for help.
    Some idiot sold me a View Sonic G Tablet earlier this year for $100. When I asked him how to get started or use it, he said to read the manual. ECK!!!
    Turns out this tablet was made in 2010 and is not user friendly. Tried to give this relic to a friend and it showed up at my doorstep. It’s heavy and hard to read my emails.
    I bought a wireless home phone from Verizon that costs $20 per month and can do everything a landline phone can do, plus it’s portable. At&t also carries the wireless home phone for the same price. You don’t need a computer to use the wireless home phone and you can keep your same number.
    By the way, I’m 60, in shape, and a retired school teacher who is still learning.
    Can’t wait to get my RealPad.

    1. I have used a computer, both at home and at work since 1997. I wanted to find something smaller and portable. I have a laptop, but that is too big. So I bought an Ipad and I am not snart enough to use it. I bought two books on how to use an Ipad, but that was to no avail.

      This was an absolute and total waste of money. Now, I see that AARP is trying to peddle something that looks just like an Ipad. I am certainly not going to buy one. I have learned my lesson. I eill stick with my computer.

    2. Judy, Please post your impressions now that you have experience with the unit. We’ve been trying for years to find something for my mother-in-law that was simple and useful – she would be the perfect picture of “technology-shy”.

    3. My mom is a 75 yo retired teacher who im oking to see what tablet wld best 4 her. She has never owned a cellphone, much less know even how to turn a computer. She bought a kindle fire 7 but hasnt used it yet. Whats ur. View of the realpad now that u hv used it? Im dure rice is incorporating the oist of 24/7 help n videos.

      Another question s hat exactly do u mean by wireless ATT phone? Like a portable home phone?

  13. These are still people with brains.
    Just make the icons bigger.

  14. As little as about $80 a unit on Alibaba, now why doesn’t that surprise me?

  15. I’ve been setting up tablets for my mom, dad & my uncles & aunts (80-ish all, and pre-computer generation, my dad had a secretary, and no computer). there’s a couple a very specific issues:
    1- Bad eyesight. large and low-rez is better. 10″ @ 1280×800, with the fonts setting at “very large” or huge”
    2- Bad IT mojo. Only 1 Homepage, with huge icons, and lock it down (needs an alternative launcher).
    3- Failing sense of touch. Touching vs sliding is unreliable.
    4- very few apps: Skype/Hangout, email, web (shortcuts to specific sites), 2 games per user + for the kids (handful of kids’ videos too), TV app
    5- TeamViewer Quick Support compatibility is a lifesaver. Remote control, yeah !
    6- Failing hearing. Either try and make do with the tablet’s sound, or buy BT loudspeakers.
    7- shortcut to wifi settings for when they’re not at home

  16. Well, I’m sure. This is an clovertrail chip and well dated. You can buy tons of very good up-to-date tablets for about the same money.

  17. I’ve always found this kind of thinking really insulting – just because someone’s got grey hairs it becomes necessary for things to be dumbed down for them. I’m 60 years old and have been involved with technology for over 40 of them. My first computer was a Timex Sinclair and I’ve owned DOZENS of computers since then. I’m the family go-to-person when it comes to computer issues and I became proficient with several mobile devices (Apple Newton, Palm and Sony PDAs, Sharp Wizards, HP Touchpad, BlackBerry PlayBook and Android tablets…)

    Yes, there are SOME people who have the need for remote controls with BIG BUTTONS and have trouble remember how to use their smartphones. But those are just as likely the same people whose VCRs always flashed 12:00 because they could figure out how to program the clock. Companies need to be very careful when they make assumptions regarding older people and technology – we’re often not as incompetent as they think.

    1. There is a place for big buttons, which is not the same as dumbing down. Just because you made it to 60 with great eyesight doesn’t mean everyone else did.

    2. I agree with you, but, in the case of my parents’ generation, they never ever used a computer at work, they don’t “grok” IT, and, at 80, their 5 senses are failing. I did spend a lot of time trying to work out something that fit them, and had to adjust several things.

      My mom is OK with her “Big Launcher” equipped Android. My brother loaned them a Moto G while they were visiting (he lives abroad) … and had to rush and buy them a dumbphone because they couldn’t handle a regular Android launcher.

      They’re 80, you’re 60… I think that makes all the difference since they never really used a PC at work. Also, touch/sight/hearing started to fail past 70.

      1. Good reply. Something tells me this no it all isn’t finished insulting at every chance

        1. Not to ve a jerk, but it’s “know-it-all” not “no-it-all”. Although, no-it-all is more appropriately stated.

    3. So people with poor eye sight are akin to people who couldn’t program a VCR? You win. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read on the internet today. I’m no where near 60 but I learned to program on a Tandy TRS-80. I’ve built and used computers from here to there and have degrees in the field. I”ve also programmed more than my share of VCR clocks over the years. But I love my remote with the bigger buttons because my vision sucks.
      Guess what. Products marketed to people in your age group who may need them aren’t insulting to you just because you don’t need them. This is akin to raging about a book being published in braille when you can see perfectly fine. My Aunt is in her 70s. Her vision is better than mine but I don’t think she’s ever touched a computer a single time in her life. I keep coaxing her to give the net a try with assurances of whatever help she’d need. Personally I’d probably take her right to Chromebook or perhaps iPad. But I can see something even simpler being great for a lot of Baby Boomers with no experience. Especially if they don’t have somebody handy to help them with it.
      The idea here is not a horrible one. The hardware, on the other hand, is utter crap and completely overpriced.

    4. I agree with the you that this is insulting but completely disagree with your points… This is insulting because the product does not offer any real or unique feature to its target market (the article makes this clear). This RealPad seems be an attempt to monetize on an already established relationship AARP has with its trusting customers by offering an inferior product along with an inferior tech support service.

      I don’t think this has so much to do with ageism as much as with blatant greed. Reminds of slew of overpriced products Krusty the Clown sells to his viewers…

      1. But really, it is not inferior. Yes, the buttons are larger, but only SuperEyeSight Man doesn’t appreciate that. It does everything an iPad or Fire can do and in my case, it offers a better battery.

    5. The RealPad is a great tool. it is focused on the “tech shy” offering an abundance of help to those who have been fearful to jump into the water. Hats off to AARP team for recognizing that there 74% of the 50+ are not using tablets and are eager to try.

    6. I resent 2 things: (1) that it’s a stripped down version of KitKat that is incompatible with certain apps I use all the time on my iPhone 6 (to my great annoyance), and (2) the entire thing – from the device itself to many of the articles I’ve read about it – is patronizing to Boomers.

      I’m sorry, but I’m 61 and have been working in corporate computing since I was 30. My generation designed the first commercial PCs, and designed and built much of the hardware and application ecosystem that everyone today depends upon. The only difference is that none of us GREW UP exposed to this stuff, we figured it out from scratch, as opposed to succeeding generations who were exposed to it from birth, practically, and integrated it into their daily experience. But that doesn’t necessarily make you somehow more “savvy”, just greater in numbers. You are all standing on the shoulders of giants, and those giants were born between 1948 and 1960, give or take.

      You’re welcome.

  18. AARP is a communist socialist leftist organization and I would give them the sweat off my B***s

    1. “…communist socialist leftist organization…”–I wish it was! It is a middle-right Dem org, ready to compromise stuff away without much of a fight! A bureaucracy, like any other. I volunteer for them (a very specific part) where they have the smarts to leave us volunteers alone and we over-whelmingly do a good job, directly for seniors, face-to-face.

      Now, if they were smart enough to have a “tech cadre” (being Communists…) we could help folks, one to one on a standardized interface.

      Maybe part of the problem is that the IT industry’s idea of “new…” is seldom “and improved…” but just “different.” And different seldom helps if you just want to “DO SOMETHING” like e-mail or check something on the web.

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