I bought my mother's iPad 2 from her on the off chance I could make something of it. Stranded at IOS 4.3.1 it had long since given up accepting new apps. That release is so old it won't even auto-update.
I had no idea how to proceed.
Much googling followed. You have to download iTunes to a PC and then connect the iPad. I was browsing Amazon for USB connectors before realising that the iPad charging cable is also, secretly, a USB connector. After that, the OS upgrade was just fiddly and slow, around 40 minutes.
I've now populated the tablet (16 GB at IOS 8) with apps: The Times, The Economist, BBC News and Weather, Zoopla, RightMove, Sudoku, the Wells Film Centre. Clare is delighted.
Parenthetically, the level of security messing around (ids, usernames, passwords) to get a tablet into service ab initio is just overwhelming, especially if you use two-factor authentication: and why wouldn't you? You end up re-entering the same Apple-Ids, Google account passwords over and over again. In the end I was fantasising about an AI, a personal security agent, which would just be authenticated and activated once, and would then just sort it out.