If you're caring for an aging parent, especially from afar, you know the challenges. Wouldn't it be helpful to have a large, Jetsons-style video portal so you could communicate more easily? That's one of the chief benefits of the Independa AnyTV, which combines hardware and a subscription service to help you care for elders.
It's not cheap (though relative to some systems, it actually is), but for a limited time, Cheapskate readers can get the Independa AnyTV for $319 with promo code CNET2020. That includes the hardware and first year of service.
Setup is pretty straightforward: The AnyTV box installs inline between the TV and another source -- like, say, a cable box or Roku -- via HDMI. Once it's in place, there's no input-switching required to use it; when activated, it simply "takes over" whatever feed the person is currently viewing, bringing up a custom onscreen menu.
The included LG 1080p camera gets affixed to the back of the TV, just above the screen. From there it's just a matter of getting connected to the Wi-Fi network. Needless to say, all this might require a little in-person assistance, depending on your family member's capabilities.
Speaking of family, anyone who has the Independa mobile app can start a video call, send a text message, share photos and so on. The system can also be configured to deliver onscreen reminders for things like medications and appointments. The user can press a "call me" button on the remote that will alert you that they want to talk.
I haven't yet had the opportunity to deploy this for my parents, who are both in their 80s and definitely at the point of needing more assistance. But I can see the appeal of the large screen for video calls, the simplicity of the remote and so on. There are cheaper options out there, but some may prove too complicated for some seniors.
What's more, if having the AnyTV Companion allows for just one less in-home health care visit per week, that would more than cover the annual cost ($399).
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