Our technology editor answers your trickiest tech questions
Question I would like to buy a printer to print occasional letters, labels to return items bought online and some crochet patterns. Monochrome would suit me but I believe they are more expensive. Thanks to a generous son, I have a MacBook Air, iPad Air and an iPhone 12. I am 87 but I do my best with technology. What would you recommend?
— Dorothy Harrington
A basic printer that costs well under €100 should suit fine, here. Most now have wireless ability, which means you can just tap a button on your laptop, iPad or iPhone and it will come out of the printer. There are many models that will suffice here. Try HP’s Deskjet 2721e, which should do the job.
Recommendation: HP Deskjet 2721e (€59 from Currys)
My Wi-Fi in my house is very bad. At the minute it is 9Mbs. A few weeks ago it was 5.3Mbs. My question is whether there is a gadget I can get to plug into the TV or the wall to boost it? Every time my kids come around, they mention how bad it is. Is there any way I can make it better?
— Ann Maleady
There are two possible solutions here. One is a better physical internet service, whether that’s from your provider or an alternative source. The other is to test and replace the physical Wi-Fi equipment you have in your house.
If the first option is a runner, it is all but guaranteed to solve your problem. The second one is trickier, but could get you over the line for a service that’s good enough for your kids not to get annoyed about.
Getting between 5Mbs and 9Mbs is, indeed, a terribly slow Wi-Fi speed: just about enough for basic Google, email, shopping and some light social media, but not really enough for Netflix, TikTok or gaming. If you’re getting your internet (Wi-Fi ) on your home’s traditional old phone line, the basic internet service will be the same from that (Eir) phone line, no matter which company you use. That means it’s very likely your phone line can’t take a faster speed, no matter how much more you pay them.
If that’s the case, you can only really tinker around the edges and hope to push the speed up closer to 12Mbs or 15Mbs, which is enough to support video streaming services such as Netflix, Disney and Amazon.
One possibility here is a better Wi-Fi router. I don’t know what your set-up is, or how long you’ve had your current Wi-Fi service equipment in the house, but it’s possible that your router is a basic or old model. Or it may be fast within a few feet of the Wi-Fi router box at the phone line’s entry point into the house, but disappear in the next room.
Check to see what router this is and whether it’s an old one. If so, a newer one should improve the signal somewhat and get it more reliably to your TV, laptops, phones and other gadgets.
If this doesn’t work, you’re really looking at ditching your phone line as your internet source altogether and replacing it with one of either ‘fixed wireless’ (an aerial on your roof), ‘mobile’ (a new wireless router that connects to the best available 4G mobile signal in your area) or ‘satellite’ (the most expensive type of internet, typically two to three times the price of other forms, but available almost anywhere in the country).
Deciding which one of these might suit is a process of investigation and elimination. If you’re in a rural area, there’s probably a fixed wireless provider somewhere locally that can connect your home to a nearby mast.
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Apple MacBook Air M2
€1,529 from retailers
I just finished reviewing this. It is, without any doubt, the best laptop you can buy if you’re one of the 90pc of people who need a high-quality laptop that will last five years or more. The problem is that it’s really quite expensive, starting at over €1,500. For my full in-depth review of it, go to Independent.ie/business/technology
Logitech MX Mechanical Mini
€159 from Logitech.com
Do you find modern, flat keyboards simply uncomfortable? Maybe you find them unresponsive or ‘spongy’ to type on? One of the most popular computer accessories is the mechanical keyboard. Logitech’s MX Mechanical Mini gives you the satisfying ‘clickiness’ and ‘travel’ without worrying about saving space.