Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems
Q My grand niece always seems to be able to watch the latest movies on her phone. But I can't find a service that plays them. Is she watching pirated films or is there a legal way to see those movies? If not, what service would you recommend for watching good films and television that I can download?
A Yes, it sounds like your grand niece is streaming movies on one of umpteen services that 'stream' pirated versions of recent release movies. These are very easy to find online but are illegally copied and distributed online. The quality of these films is often sketchy, too, although it doesn't seem to bother some people when they watch on a screen the size of a smartphone.
Personally, I don't like using these services. Instead, I use a mixture of Netflix and Sky. Both cost money, although the Sky streaming service is free if you already pay for Sky Movies for your TV.
Netflix costs €7.99 per month for one screen (whether it's a telly, a tablet, a laptop or a phone - although you can use different screens), or €10.99 per month for high definition and two (consecutive) screens.
Honestly, the choice now on Netflix is way better than a couple of years ago. You get a lot of decent movies and television series on there, including genuinely top-class stuff like The Crown (above). At the very least, it's well worth trying it for a (free) first month, as there's no minimum contract length.
If you've never used a 'streaming' service like Netflix before, it's worth mentioning that you can either watch it through a phone or tablet app, a smart TV (typically through an app on same) or through any internet browser (like Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer). For example, on a computer, you just go to Netflix.com and put in your user name and password (like you would for your email account) and you're in.
One recently-introduced advantage is that Netflix now also lets you download a large number of TV programmes or movies to your device for viewing when you're out of broadband or mobile internet range (like on a plane or a bus). It's a slightly different process for Sky's 'Go' app, but it's still worth getting if you're already a subscriber.
Basically, the Sky Go app (for iPad, iPhone or Android device) will give you access to whatever you're already subscribed to through your ordinary TV bill. In other words, if you're subscribed to Sky Sports, you'll see Sky Sports through your phone or tablet app, too. The same goes for Sky Movies or Sky Atlantic. You don't quite have the same flexibility with Sky as you do with Netflix, in that you can't just log in on any device and start watching. The app is restricted to one device at a time. Still, it's surprising how many people pay for Sky Movies but don't take advantage of their right to choose movies on demand through the same service.
Another option you'll hear of is Amazon Prime Video (€5.99 per month), which works in a similar way to Netflix. But there's still relatively little to watch there and it suffers from a bad user experience where much of the content advertised to watch isn't available to an Irish audience. You only find this out when you tap on it to watch it, making you feel like a fool each time.
RECOMMENDATION: Netflix (Netflix.com or app for your tablet, smartphone)
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Two to Try
Sony Xperia XA2
(€399 from Argos)
Sony's mid-range phone has a good 23-megapixel rear camera and a "super wide angle" 8-megapixel selfie camera. The 5.2-inch device also has a good screen and decent speakers on it. While it's pretty to look at, it's a little hefty (around 15pc heavier than the iPhone 8) and its sharpish corners aren't too forgiving on jeans pockets. It has a reasonable 32GB of storage.
Huawei P Smart
This 5.6-inch mid-range Huawei handset might be the best new budget big-screen phone around. Unusually for a non-flagship device, it has two rear cameras (although the second 2-megapixel camera is there to guide the first one rather than being a second, distinct telephoto lens like on an iPhone). It's not quite as good on battery life as its pricier sibling, the Mate 10 Pro, but then few phones are. There's 32GB of storage space.