TV host becomes face of new machine for older generation

Valerie Singleton launches PC for the elderly

Television presenter Valerie Singleton has teamed up with technology companies to develop a Linux-based PC designed specifically for the over 50s.

The SimplicITy computer has no log in screen and features just six large-text buttons for users to access basic functions such as email and web browsing.

Users also receive video tutorials presented by Singleton, which come pre-installed on the machine and give a step-by-step guide to using the different tools.

SimplicITy is the brainchild of Discount Age – the money-saving website co-founded by Singleton – and Wessex Computers. It is aimed to address the fact that only around half of over-50s have access to a computer and the internet, compared to over 80 per cent of 29- to 45-year-olds.

“Without access to a computer and the internet, the day-to-day lives of people in this group are going to become increasingly impoverished as they are shut out of the most dynamic form of modern communication,” said Nigel Houghton, Discount Age’s managing director. “With SimplicITy, however, we have made getting online and staying in touch painless, easy and affordable. We believe it will provide a much-needed solution to the digital divide.”

The machine runs the Linux Mint operating system, powered by Eldy software, a package developed by Italian company Vegan Solutions. The software limits itself to only the most basic tasks and, according to the firm, is virtually immune to security threats that affect other systems.

“For some time now, we have been aware of the need among older people for a simpler type of computer,” said Valerie Singleton, director of Discount Age. “A large number of 50 pluses only require email, internet, a writing package, perhaps a means of storing or viewing pictures and a facility to chat. We don’t need the bells and whistles that modern computers offer – we just need something that’s simple to use and reliable. And this is not just true for older people. There are plenty of people under 50 who are terrified of currently available computers.”

Desktop prices start at £299.99, while a complete package including screen, keyboard, mouse and speakers costs from £435.99. Each machine is built to order and comes with simple set-up instructions and a manual reproducing the video tutorials.

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