thanks for the tip on google play - i don't think she'll care about it much, but ultimately i'll probably be the one who will have to download any apps for her, so it would be a big help.
not sure if she'll handle the 7" screen well or not. she's not exactly blind, but she doesn't have eagle eye vision anymore. i doubt the difference between 7 and 8" screens will be huge and worth the price difference.
will definitely look into a few of the 150-200$ tablets instead