Question: I'm thinking of buying a new laptop. I have a HP Probook 4540S laptop, bought in 2012. What advice would you give me, please? I use Microsoft 365, browse the internet and do email. That's it. I don't game or use Netflix.
- James Bennett, via email
Answer: I'd go for a mid-range home laptop. There's a HP model (15s-eq0507, €599) in Currys PC World that sounds just about right for what you need. It's a modernised, faster version of what you have that should last at least four or five years. Question
Question: Our family is all stuck at home and I have to work as normal. I'm finding the noise to be very distracting. Would headphones help? If so, could you recommend a good pair?
- Breffni H, via social media
Answer: I'm a long-time advocate of noise-cancelling headphones as an essential work aid. I use them in the office and at home, equally, when I want to concentrate. The reason noise-cancelling headphones are so good is that they use microphones to 'invert' the frequency of the noise they hear, to the effect that they 'cancel' your ability to hear it. There are lots to choose from. Sony's 1000XM3 (€269) is still the benchmark (and my personal favourite), although I've tested some great alternatives lately, including Microsoft Surface Headphones (€266) and AKG N700 (€299).
Question: I am a student who is looking to buy a new laptop for about €700. I'm not very tech-savvy and don't really know what to look for in a laptop. In September, I'll be starting a master's in translation and I will heavily rely on my laptop for most of my college work, so I think I'll need one with good memory. Could you give me some recommendations, please?
- Shannon Hyland, Cavan
Answer: You're going to need to lean on this for at least three years. I'm guessing that you'll need to take it around with you from time to time, so I'm going to recommend one that is relatively light while still having decent power and specifications. You'll need at least 256GB of storage. If you can stretch to €799, Lenovo's 14-inch Ideapad S340 (available from Harvey Norman and other retailers) is a good all-rounder for what you're likely to need.
Question: I want to permanently shut down my old Eircom email address, but have had no success to date. I have managed to put an automated response on my Eircom email saying that the email address is no longer in use and to use my new iCloud email address instead. I have also managed to have any emails from my Eircom email address automatically sent to my iCloud one. How can I permanently close down my old Eircom email account, which is never going to be used again?
- AM O'Donnell
Answer: According to Eir, the quickest way to do it is to email firstname.lastname@example.org and request the permanent deletion of the account. Alternatively, if you wait for Eir to start charging €5.99 a month for the webmail service - a move it has temporarily shelved due to Covid-19 - all you have to do is not pay and Eir will automatically delete your webmail account after 60 days.
Question: I would like to transfer old camcorder mini tapes (I have about 20) to a CD or DVD in order to view them. I'm just wondering what the most economical way to do this is.
- Elaine Goulding
Answer: A professional service will cost between €10 and €20 a tape, although sometimes you can ask for a volume discount. The advantage to this is that it is hassle-free, you avoid the need for any equipment yourself and you get it neatly on a USB stick or DVD, from which you can then make copies for next to nothing.
Alternatively, you can do it yourself. One thing is crucial: you need the original type of player for the tape you are transferring from. In your case, this is the mini tape player or camcorder. If you have this, the most common way of transferring it is to make a digital file on your laptop using a digital converter gadget. Amazon sells a gadget called Video-2-PC (about €60 including delivery from a third-party seller) that does this reasonably well. But you'll need to be unfazed by plugging things in between your camcorder and your PC (it also only works with Windows laptops and PCs, not MacBooks or iPads or phones).
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€150 from Littlewoods
The benefits to this budget smartphone are its lovely design, good battery life and the best version of Android you can get. The disadvantage is that it feels a little slow and underpowered. It's still a reasonable buy as a basic smartphone, but I'd worry about it being too slow in future.
Surface Go 2
From €469 from retailers
Microsoft's Surface range of '2-in-1' tablet-laptops are generally great. Its entry level model now has a bigger screen (10.5 inches) than before. However, the €469 model has very basic power. And you'll pay €130 for the keyboard. So it's really €600 (or €860 for a decent-powered one).