Thursday 5 December 2019

Ask Adrian: Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech problems

Powerful: the Microsoft 2-in-1 Surface Pro 6 has a fantastic screen for watching TV programmes
Powerful: the Microsoft 2-in-1 Surface Pro 6 has a fantastic screen for watching TV programmes


Question: Is it possible to download the Eircode system on to a Garmin satnav? If it is, what models of the satnav are compatible? As many new cars can be fitted with a satnav, are any or all of these compatible with the Eircode system?

- Sean, via email

Answer: Garmin says that quite a few models in its Drive and DriveSmart ranges of satnavs do now recognise Eircodes. However, it also claims that you can update the software to recognise them on your existing satnav by downloading Garmin Express through your PC or Mac. If you need a walk-through on how to do this, Garmin has YouTube videos and some instructions on its Garmin Support site.

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In terms of built-in systems on a car, it may not support this. If you have a fairly new car with a multimedia screen, there's a good chance it supports Apple CarPlay (for your iPhone) or Android Auto (for your Samsung, Huawei or other smartphones). If so, you can use Google Maps, which does recognise Eircodes. Obviously, a makeshift alternative is to buy a cheap dashboard smartphone holder, mount your smartphone in it and just use Google Maps on the phone.

Question: I'm travelling to Tenerife for five or six weeks, but the apartment I'm staying in has only Spanish stations. I would like to be able to watch RTÉ and some BBC channels. Is there a laptop or tablet I could purchase for this? I have been thinking of purchasing a laptop anyway as my desktop PC is 10 years old and slow. I would need good battery life and good storage as it will have to last me for many years. I would also consider a 2-in-1 tablet. I don't want a machine that's heavy or bulky as I need to carry it when I travel. I need it for everyday banking, research, shopping and downloading some movies to watch. The price would have to be fairly reasonable.

- Jack, via email

Answer: There are two parts to this question. First, being able to watch RTÉ or BBC in Spain doesn't depend on the laptop or tablet you have: it's a geographic restriction issue. In general, most of what RTÉ and the BBC broadcasts isn't licenced to be shown in Spain through those channels.

That means that the minute your laptop or tablet detects that you're outside Ireland or the UK, you'll get restricted content or none at all from those services. Some people try to get around this by using what are called virtual private network (VPN) software, which allow you to declare your laptop is in a certain territory even if you're in a different one. However, the basic issue is one of rights management.

As to the question of getting a laptop or tablet generally, this is something I write about quite a bit. In your case, it's a simple trade-off between price and functionality. To have a laptop you can absolutely rely on for "many years" (which I take to mean at least seven years), you will have to spend close to €1,000. It means getting a mid-to-high-end HP, Dell, Lenovo or an Apple MacBook.

A cheaper laptop will, of course, make a decent fist of it for a few years. But the compromises in either the build quality or the components mean that you are likely (though not certain) to see issues develop after four years.

A 2-in-1 is a good overall choice for someone who travels, because they can usually stand upright as video screens, as well as being completely functional laptops.

With all that said, I offer two recommendations and one compromise model to suit a tighter budget. The two models I'd recommend would be Microsoft's 2-in-1 Surface Pro 6 (€1,240 with keyboard from Microsoft Ireland's online store or Apple's iPad Pro 11 (€1,278 with Smart Keyboard from Apple's online store or electronics retailers). The prices I quote are for more storage memory than the basic versions available; if you can live with less storage, you can knock about €150 off the price.

The 12-inch Surface Pro 6 is one of the best 2-in-1 Windows laptops you can get and will last you several years. The 11-inch iPad Pro 11 is, for what you say you want, ideal: very powerful, very fast, very easy to use and with a fantastic screen.

If these are simply too expensive, I'd suggest looking at Lenovo's 2-in-1 14-inch Yoga 540 (€699 with keyboard from Currys) or Apple's iPad Air (€929 with Smart Keyboard and 256Gb of storage; a cheaper 64GB version is also available for around €150 less).

Remember: I'm picking machines that are specifically aimed at being travel-friendly, long-lasting and with good storage, as per your query. If you can compromise on these requirements, there is a long list of cheaper alternatives (some of which I have written about in recent months: search for 'ask adrian' or 'laptop' within our website).

Question: I love my current Nokia 3310. I got a present of an iPhone and I don't like it. I read your recommendation of the new Nokia 2720 Flip phone. But can it download banking apps such as from Ulster Bank?

- Michael, via email

Answer: Michael, no it can't. There are only a handful of apps available for Kai OS, the operating system it uses. These include WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps.

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