Thursday 23 January 2020

Ask Adrian: Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech problems

ADRIAN WECKLER

Compromise: an iPad Air is a good call for those who don’t need the cutting-edge technology of an iPad Pro
Compromise: an iPad Air is a good call for those who don’t need the cutting-edge technology of an iPad Pro

Question: I have an old iPad 7 that is years old and is now too slow. My partner has an old Dell PC. We're looking at getting an iPad Pro for home use instead of two replacements, along the lines of the devices mentioned above. Is this a good idea? Or should we upgrade both the iPad and get a new PC?

- Declan, via email

Answer: This is a little tricky as the iPad and the Dell PC (I assume it's a desktop machine) are different enough in how they work to possibly annoy one of you if you consolidate into one machine. There are also still some distinct advantages that each has over the other: the iPad is much faster to start up, search online and move around with you, whereas the PC is still better for big screen activities and for storing documents (like letters, spreadsheets and Microsoft files).

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I use both the iPad Pro and a desktop PC every day. The latter is on my work desk while the former is for almost everything else at home.

Would the iPad screen be big enough for your partner if you settled only on it? Alternatively, could you hack pull down menus and mouse clicks to access things if you plumped for a PC? Moreover, do either of you have logins that reflect your personal preferences for programs or apps? If so, would it disrupt your activities if you shared a common one? (PCs do let you login separately.)

If you each have smartphones, it's probably easier to consolidate into one larger machine as you will naturally start using the phones for casual computer activity (Google, news, weather, Facebook and the like) anyway.

But if you don't have smartphones used in this way, my gut instinct is that it might be a bigger compromise than you think paring your house's computer resources from two to one.

So I would probably go for a new iPad and a new PC. If you're happy with the general form factor and size of the iPad you had, you don't need to go fully for an iPad Pro. The 'ordinary' iPad is really quite fast and costs less than half (€399) that of the iPad Pro (€909). The one I usually recommend to people who are thinking of getting something a little higher up than the basic iPad but who don't need cutting-edge technology is the recently upgraded iPad Air (€579). This is basically the same model as the previous iPad Pro, which means it has a slightly larger screen (10.5 inches) than the basic iPad and also has a special connector for Apple's 'Smart Keyboard'. I use this keyboard everyday with the iPad Pro.

As for the PC, Dell is a good choice, although so are Lenovo and HP. If it's a laptop you're after, you'll get a decent one for between €450 and €600. If it's a desktop, you might pay an extra €100 for a decent 'all-in-one' model with a monitor of between 21 and 25 inches in size.

Question: Have Saorview come up with any recording device yet?

- Breege, Galway, via email

Answer: Yes, you can record from Saorview. But it's not as straightforward as on a Sky or Virgin box (and Eir's new TV system unfortunately barely allows you to record anything at all). Recording is chiefly aimed at those with an official Saorview Connect box (from PowerPoint). Once set up, this box acts in much the same way as an ordinary set-top box for recording, in that you can record individual episodes or 'series link' the recording. As Saorview itself explains, recordings will appear in the left hand menu on the home screen only when an external drive is connected to the box.

Alas, there's a catch. The box itself doesn't have the capacity to actually hold the recordings so you have to go get a separate external storage hard drive and plug it in to the USB port on the Saorview Connect box. Most commonly available external hard drives available in mainstream electronics stores should do - you'll get one for about €50 that has 500GB of storage, enough for most people to hold a few hundred recordings.

Recommendation: PowerPoint Saorview Connect (€149 from Power City);

Question:  My computer is a Dell Inspiron 1525 which runs Windows 7. I need to get a replacement. What would you recommend by way of a desktop computer? It is for home use, meaning e-mails, banking, social media and photos. Secondly, what would you recommend by way of a printer?

Answer: You're right to upgrade from Windows 7 - anyone who doesn't is heading for more dangerous virus threats this year. For what you say you want it for, you can expect a fairly decent desktop PC that should reliably last you around five years for about €600 to €700. One you might look at is HP's Pavilion 24 xa1006 model (€699 from Currys). As for a printer, a reliable basic one like Canon's MG2550S costs hardly anything (€29 from Harvey Norman with €15 for black ink cartridges). 

Recommendation: HP Pavilion 24 xa1006 (€699 from Currys)

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