Invite your friends or family to dinner by video. And other Covid-19 tech tips…

As you may know, TV Dinners is what Americans call ready meals. But how about a video dinner? I was chatting to a friend the other day to see how he was getting on during the big pause. He lives with his family in Belfast but his mother lives alone in Armagh. To make his mum feel less isolated he came up with a novel solution. Every night at dinner time he video calls his mum on his tablet, then when she answers they place the tablet at her spot on the dinner table and proceed to eat together. Mum eats her dinner in Armagh while my friend and his family eat there’s in Belfast.

It is a really simple idea but my friend says it works really well. Mum can join in the conversation and more importantly everyone feels connected and involved. Another upside of this is you don’t feel pressured into chit chat, it can be hard coming up with new things to talk about when we have all been in the house for weeks – just being connected is enough. If you want to try this I recommend getting a stand or grip for your phone or tablet, you can get them from Amazon.

Another good suggestion for less technical friends or family is the Facebook portal device. This is like a photo frame with a built-in screen and camera. I was sceptical at first, as it sounded a bit gimmicky to me but my cousin got my uncle one and he loves it. The video and sound quality on them is excellent, and they are very simple to use. They were on sale for £79 but the price seems to have gone up again to £129, keep an eye on Amazon or the Portal site.

A better option for relatives could be an Ipad. They are my number one tech recommendation for people to buy. Extremely easy to use, well built and versatile. Normally you can pick them up on Ebay for £289 but the price of these has also went up due to demand, they are now about £340. There are lots of different models, make sure you get the new 2019 version. And whatever you do is do not scrimp and buy a cheaper Android Tablet, most of them are terrible. You will get 5 years out of an Ipad so they are a better buy. I don’t recommend buying a used or refurbished iPad as there is often not much difference in price between a new and used one. If you must go cheap the Huawei Tablets are very good value but do not buy an Android tablet for non-technical relatives, you will be tortured with tech support calls from them when they break them every five minutes.

Lastly, if you are in the market for a Phone the newly released the new iPhone SE is great value at £419 or your carrier will likely have deals on it. Make sure to get a cover for it to keep it in good condition.

If you do have any tech questions feel free to ask in the comments.

Photo by RitaE is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

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