There's also a daily wellness survey that asks the senior if he or she is feeling the same, worse, or better than the day before. This pops this up on its screen each day, and my dad responded accordingly. Using the ClarityLife.net site, you can add additional daily surveys, asking the senior of he or she needs to go shopping or to run errands, for example. You can also set periodic reminders to take medication or perform treatments. These are really helpful features. But the Ensemble's best feature is check-in reminders: You can set these for any length of time. With my dad, I set the wellness reminder to let me know if he hasn't responded within an hour.
The ClarityLife.net website also offers many more features than anything available through GrandPad. There's a dashboard that displays a chart of how often the senior has answered survey questions, a wellness trend for the month, and more. You can configure exactly what appears on the Ensemble's screen, such as whether or not you want it to display text messages, surveys, photos, or videos. You can also control how the time and date are displayed; add contacts to senior's address book; and post messages, photos, and videos from the web portal.
Finally, you can program the device to display websites. I added FoxNews.com and WSJ.com for my dad. The Fox site displayed large images and highly readable text, but my dad got frustrated with WSJ.com because it uses a paywall.
One important feature that's missing from ClarityLife is the ability to monitor and harvest family photos posted to social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram. GrandPad does this, and it's a great way to keep seniors connected to the rest of their family.
Dependence on a landline adds to the monthly cost of operating the Ensemble, but many seniors still rely on that technology anyway. And there are some benefits to what otherwise might seem like a technological limitation: Seniors don't need to remember to plug the device in to charge its battery, and they'll always know where in the house it is when they want to use it. The Ensemble also relies on a Wi-Fi broadband connection, however, which further adds to its cost to operate.
The Ensemble phone costs $399 with no monthly fees (apart from your phone and ISP bills). The GrandPad tablet costs $60 per month and includes 4G LTE service. They're both great products, and they're not mutually exclusive, which is why I've given them both the same score. They're helpful gadgets for an age when everyone is connected to everything--except their elderly family members.
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