Wednesday 12 December 2018

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems


Sensation: The YouTube video 'Little Kelly Has a Baby' attracted 23 million plays for Meath woman Kelly Fitzsimons
Sensation: The YouTube video 'Little Kelly Has a Baby' attracted 23 million plays for Meath woman Kelly Fitzsimons
E4 electric scooter
Google Home
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q: My son is using the Discord app to chat with mates on his iPhone. He has a €30 monthly bill pay plan with the Three network. He's mostly talking and texting using it. Can I assume it's like WhatsApp and won't eat into his flexi units?

A You can probably rest easy: the Discord app is unlikely to eat into his flexi-units. If I understand your son's Three subscription correctly, he has up to 60GB of data per month. By comparison to other mobile packages on the market, that's quite a lot. So if he were to use the Discord app for two hours every day, I would be surprised if he surpassed 3GB or 4GB for the whole month. In other words, he'd barely use 5pc of his allowance.

And it should even be considerably less, as I'm assuming (maybe incorrectly) that you have home broadband and Wi-Fi. In that case, whatever data he uses will come straight from your home Wi-Fi bundle which, in most cases, is virtually unlimited.

This is all on the assumption that your son uses Discord for voice chats, some messaging and some video. If he's a gamer, it might eat into a bit more data.

To explain for those who aren't familiar with it, Discord is a communication app that's mainly aimed at gamers and can be used on a PC and on a phone or tablet.

The thing about gamers is that many of them are very dedicated, playing several hours a day. In recent years, a bunch of services have popped up to cater directly to them. Twitch, for example, is a video service that largely shows you other gamers' gameplay. It's absolutely huge. Large chunks of YouTube are now devoted to 'walkthroughs' and gamers starting and finishing a game.

(For instance, look up the Meath woman Kelly Fitzsimons on Google: she makes close to €1m per year by posting videos of Minecraft that can last hours. Some of her videos have racked up staggeringly large viewing counts. One, 'Little Kelly Has a Baby', attracted 23 million plays at the last count. Over the last two years, her videos have been played over a billion times on YouTube.) What this means is that your son may use Discord a bit more than the average person uses WhatsApp. Throw in the ability to video chat and screen share using the app, and you could be looking at larger amounts of mobile data than you might expect for Snapchat, Instagram or Skype.

Still, even if he's on it several hours a day, the odds are that he won't eat into the fairly deep mobile data allowance that he has on that mobile operator plan.

This raises the question of how much mobile data a person really needs to use their phone each month. I'll write a separate advice column on this in coming weeks, but in general, most people now need at least 5GB without incurring excess charges. In general, I would advise at least 10GB and preferably 20GB. For that, you're ruling out one or two operators at what might be considered a reasonable monthly price (around €30).

The key element here, whether it's Discord or any other app you use, is video. The ordinary services that most people use - such as Facebook and WhatsApp - are now shifting over to video posts at a rapid rate. This can use a lot of your monthly data if you're on a low data plan, such as one that only gives 5GB or less.

So if you're prone to sharing things over WhatsApp or Facebook on your phone outside the home, watch out.

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Two to Try

Google Home  (€150)

Google Home

Google has finally introduced its Amazon Echo rival, the Home spart speaker. It answers questions, plays music and helps control other smart home devices, such as alarms, lights and thermostats. It also allows people with Google accounts to check calendars. Getting directions or playing radio stations by using the command "okay Google" is also a common use.

E4 electric scooter (€439 from

E4 electric scooter

Anyone living in the city will have seen more and more electric scooters darting about. Typically popular with tech workers, the gadgets are charged up and can travel at around the same speed as a bike. One basic model to look at is Gyrowheel's E4 model. Taking around three hours to charge, this has a 15km range and can move along at up to 28km per hour thanks to its 250w motor. It's only 10kg in weight, meaning you can easily bring it in and of the office.

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