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Eldergadget: Helpful Or Stereotyping Seniors?

Whenever I see a promotion targeting seniors, I always wonder if it offers something really helpful or if it’s just pitching to some marketing maven’s caricature of real-world seniors. Eldergadget—a site that provides information on a wide range of products for a senior audience—seems to be in the first category rather than the second.

Eldergadget’s basic premise is to evaluate products in terms of “elderly friendly features.” In general, that means products that are easy to use for people with some combination of limited mobility, dexterity, strength, and vision. I’m happy to report that the site does not adapt the attitude of some marketers that seniors are stupid, backward, and unwilling to adapt to new technologies. {{{SmarterBuddy|align=left}}}Eldergadget covers several categories of interest to travelers, including cameras (still and movie), cell phones (these days, “wireless” is more accurate), GPS systems, luggage, and shoes. It also covers a lot of non-travel products and services, but those are not in my purview.

The organization of the site is a bit confusing. The long coverage menu on the home page leads to recent posts about each subject, but not to any sort of systematic comparison. If you want that, you have to click on “guides,” where you see a shorter menu of topics for which Eldergadget has posted a comparative analysis.

When I spot-checked some of the listings, I found generally useful information, but with some important gaps:

  • Cell phone listings focus on recent news and releases; the most recent product comparison was from a year ago—an eternity in wireless-phone time. Then, the site based its evaluations on simplicity, large keypads, bright displays, a panic button, and built-in GPS. Unfortunately for traveling seniors, the site doesn’t touch the subject of overseas use options at all.
  • Camera listings (still) and guides (camcorders) stress such “senior friendly features” as large LCD screen, ergonomically friendly controls, operational simplicity, weight, image stabilization, durability, and availability of a viewfinder.
  • GPS system evaluations stress ease of use, good interfaces, and clear voice prompts.
  • Luggage listings and the guide for rolling bags are based on the “elder friendly” features multiple handles, well spaced wheels, accessible compartments, color contrasts, easy-to-operate features, and size. I agree with most of those, but I take two serious exceptions: I can’t imagine rating luggage without considering weight as a major factor, and I personally prefer fewer individual compartments in luggage, not more.
  • Shoes are important to a traveler of any age, and the guide compares several popular brands of walking shoes in terms of weight, shock absorption, easy grip tongue, beveled heels, flexible outsole, removable insole, and—for people who need it—slip-on design.

Overall, I can’t fault the site’s choice of senior friendly features—for the most part, they’re about the same ones I’d use.

Eldergadget doesn’t show list prices in its listings and guides, but for many of the products it provides direct links to Amazon for prices and purchase. Even if you don’t buy through Amazon, those links show about what you could expect to pay just about anywhere.

Some of the reports verge on the “gee, whiz” or Popular Science approach to product news. Eldergadget commented on a new camera from Germany that rates the quality of each picture you take, for example, or a new wireless phone that can test your eyes. Neither is now available. And it reports on a self-powered rolling suitcase that trundles itself along as you guide it—maybe a good idea, until you get to the part where it weighs 27 pounds empty—interesting, perhaps, and harmless, but not useful.

Although new to me, Eldergadget has been around a while and can show a reasonable backlog of evaluations and analysis. And although the site is not specifically focused on travel, it does include items of interest to travelers. Log onto Eldergadget if you’re interested in checking out these and other items.

Your Turn

Have you ever used the product reviews on Eldergadget? Did you find them helpful? Share your thoughts by submitting a comment below!

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