Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech questions
Question I have a Lenovo tablet which I use for streaming, banking, shopping and emails. The problem is that it is forcing me to use Microsoft Edge as a browser and my preference is Google. I am thinking of buying a laptop with a decent screen for viewing streaming services and would appreciate advice on Google-based laptops. My budget is €400 to €600. — Bernadette Burke
I can give you a recommendation for a Google-based laptop (known as a Chromebook) all right. But first, I must express some curiosity that your tablet is ‘forcing’ you to use Microsoft’s Edge browser. Your tablet, if I understand you correctly, is an Android device. As such, you simply download the Google Chrome browser app from the Play (app) Store on the device and use that without any further hassle.
In case there’s some other side to this that I’m not aware of, I’ll give you a recommendation for a Chromebook anyway.
Luckily for you, most Chromebooks are relatively inexpensive, typically starting at about €300 for usable, if basic, models.
Ironically, the best value (by far) Chromebook in or around your price range is also a Lenovo: the 14-inch Ideapad 5i (€649 from Currys). I know that it’s €49 over your stated budget, but the stretch is absolutely worth it. This is because you’re getting a far better engine (Intel Core i5 and 8GB of Ram), a better-than-average screen (full HD) and much better storage (256GB SSD) than some of the others that cost just €100 to €200 less.
Having said that, if your price range is an absolute red line, you could look at the junior model in that same series from Lenovo. That is its 14-inch 3i model (€499 from Currys) which has the same good screen and storage, but a considerably weaker engine (Core i3 chip and just 4GB of Ram). It should generally do the job for what you say you do, but after a while you might start to notice it lagging a bit, especially if you’re jumping from website to website or flicking through streaming options.
Recommendation: Lenovo Ideapad 5i (€649 from Currys)
I have vinyl LPs, tapes and CDs which I would like to convert to my iPhone, if necessary via my laptop. How can I go about this process?
— Kieran McMahon
One way or another, you’ll need that laptop as a middle-man device. For most of us, there are two main ways to do this.
One is through an audio converter gadget box that connects either to your laptop, or stores the music as digital music on a USB key or a memory card. These are quite cheap (about €30 to €50 on Amazon.co.uk) but don’t always suit, because they need the right type of cable to go between them and the turntable, CD player or cassette player.
And it’s not a given that whatever turntable, CD player or cassette player you have will have those connection ports. In general, these can also be the most technically complicated way of doing it. So I’m reluctant to recommend them in this column. I’m guessing that if you’re writing to me with this query, you’re looking for a method that doesn’t require a hi-fi geek’s mastery of audio software.
Realistically, that leaves you looking for beginner-friendly specialist audio gadgets such as Digitnow’s MP3-outputting turntable (€60 from Amazon.co.uk) and cassette player (€30 from Amazon.co.uk). These connect to your laptop via a normal USB cable and let you (through supplied software) record tracks to your computer, which you can then transfer to your iPhone. For a CD, any cheap external CD peripheral (under €30 from Amazon) will do the same job, importing directly into iTunes (Windows or Mac).
Lastly, you probably know that you can have this professionally done for you, but it’s very expensive — often €10 to €20 per album.
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