The Doro tablet for seniors – product review
While we talk a great deal about how being online is becoming vital to daily life, it can be difficult for older people. It’s not just about familiarity with technology. It’s also about being able to use smartphones, tablets and PCs when your eyesight’s not as good as it was and your fingers not as nimble.
So we’re always interested to see how technology companies are adjusting products to make them easier for seniors to use.
With that in mind we accepted the offer to review the Doro tablet, which has been designed to address exactly these challenges with larger buttons and keypad, and a simpler interface.
What’s in the box?
In the box you’ll find a standard Android tablet, charging cable and plug, a tool to add and remove an SD card if you have one, a cradle/stand for using the tablet hands-free, and a quick start instruction booklet.
There’s a mixture of tasks here. Doro has created its own clear and helpful QuickStart setup routines with supporting video tutorials. However, you will have to wander into Google land for some of the set up, so it’s definitely advisable to have someone who’s familiar with this territory to get through the complicated stuff.
Following the Doro set-up instructions
The QuickStart guide is a single folded sheet with simple instructions.
Once we’d turned the tablet on, the first task was to finish charging it. This was easy the first time as it was already almost full, but we did find it worth checking that the cable was fully connected for charging as we got caught out later.
At this point we could have inserted a memory card, though we didn’t attempt this.
We then had the opportunity to tailor the tablet according to our preferences, such as choice of vision settings – size of icons, colour blindness, black or white background.
We were asked some useful questions, such as whether we were a beginner or had used a tablet before. I chose beginner. That prompted an easy-to-follow quick tutorial on tapping buttons and scrolling.
The tablet then searched for wifi. Once connected we did run through the checking for updates and downloading and restarting several times, so be prepared to wait a while for all this to happen.
Off to Google for a while
Google rather took over at this point, so tasks became a little more technical. We were asked, for example, if we wanted to transfer apps, photos, contacts, Google Account and more – but we chose not to copy at this time.
You will need log in to the user’s Google account if they have one, or set one up if they don’t. While there are Google tutorials, if the user isn’t familiar with Google terminology, it would definitely be best to do this for them, but this should be a one-off.
You will also need to set a PIN to unlock the tablet, and in our reviewing experiencing this was something that needed to be used frequently.
Back to Doro
With the Google account set up, we returned to the Doro home page and time for the user to start learning how to operate the tablet.
There are large icons on view, starting with 8 on the home page: Google, Help, Settings, Assistant, Play Store, Video Call, View, Send, Search, and Camera.
It should be fairly easy to learn and remember what all the icons do. For example, you click on Send to send an email, a picture or video. Or click on View to see emails, pictures and videos, contacts, calendar, notes, location, applications, and tablet information.
There are also videos on the Doro website to help understand how to use facilities such as video calling.
There are plenty of Doro settings that you can adjust to the suit the owner, such as screen timeout and power on/off.
Ease of use
The big buttons are key. As with any tablet, it’s very easy to lose where you were on the screen when physically moving the tablet around. But with this version of Doro, it’s pretty easy to get back to where you were by clicking on the Home icon and choosing an icon. This is a great improvement on the previous version of the Doro phone we tested, when we regularly found ourselves outside the Doro environment and lost for ways to get back.
The View icon seems to be by far the most useful, as it takes you to a list of email, pictures and videos, contacts, calendar, notes, location, apps and tablet information.
When you start using Doro for emails Google keeps popping up to ask about more features, so worth hanging about to help practise messaging.
I easily added some apps from Play Store that I thought would be useful: Adobe Acrobat Reader, WhatsApp, Solitaire, Facebook/Messenger. You can later find all the apps on the device simply by swiping up from the home page.
I would recommend a cover – just because I am forever dropping my phone and would have lost the screen so many times.
The idea of being able to manage the tablet remotely from another PC, tablet or phone sounds really useful. If a remote supporter can view and control the screens on the tablet, it means theoretically they can attempt to fix issues, and do more positive things like adding apps from the store, and showing the tablet user how to work with the tablet themselves.
Doro includes just such a service, in the shape of QuickSupport via TeamViewer. It did take quite a bit of effort to get the service working, including an hour and and a half in total on the phone with a support engineer, a fair amount of installing and re-installing, a bit of head-scratching, and ultimately the addition of an add-on and a re-boot of the tablet. I did get there in the end, and by using the screen sharing facility I was able to download a Sudoko app to the tablet using TeamViewer on my desktop PC.
The Doro tablet is new to the market and it’s too soon to research customer comments. We did take a look at reviews of the Doro Smartphone on TrustPilot, which were mixed on the subject of customer support. We asked Doro about their approach to customer support for the tablet and they were able to tell us that:
‘Our Customer Support Team is available throughout the working week and is on hand to advise and triage users regarding all things Doro, from technical issues to product recommendations based on the unique, individual needs of our senior customers. While response times can sometimes vary during busy periods, our Support Team strives to respond to customers as soon as possible. During situations in which a diagnosis cannot be made via phone or over email or where further tests or repairs are required, they will advise accordingly and help the customer to arrange the next steps. While understandably, this can sometimes be an inconvenience for customers, it’s a necessary step for the team to take to ensure that they can provide customers with the appropriate solution and care.’
What we liked
We think the Doro tablet would work well for anyone who is already familiar with tablets but is starting to struggle with vision or manual dexterity.
Any tablet is likely to be a challenge for those who are unfamiliar with this sort of technology, but the Doro does have features that could make the introduction easier.
What we liked
- Excellent screen clarity
- Large buttons on the home screens
- Easy-to-learn choice of buttons
- Large keypad
- On/off button easier to use than many, as it stands proud from the tablet
- Tutorials on the Doro website eg how to use WhatsApp
- Tutorial on the tablet – how to scroll, tap, move left and right
What we weren’t sure about
- Remote support from Teamviewer – great idea but it was hard work to implement
About the Doro Tablet
- Price: £189
- Key features:
- Portable, ergonomic cradle included as standard
- TeamViewer QuickSupport remote assistance app pre-installed
- 4 speakers for loud surround sound
- Rear 8MP + front 5MP cameras
- WiFi only device
- 6000mAh battery to support hours of daily use