Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech problems
Do you have a recommendation for a laptop for a college student? Something that’s not too expensive but that will last a few years, please. — Bríde Byrne
I’ve two recommendations: a light, baggable model and a larger, cheaper laptop that is mostly for desk use. If portability is key, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go (€739 from Microsoft.com) is one of the best deals out there at present. The touchscreen 12.4-inch Surface Laptop Go weighs just 1.1kg, making it perfect for bags. While you can get a slightly cheaper version (€649), the €739 version is the one to choose as it has the fundamental engine specifications (8GB Ram, Intel i5 processor) you need to make sure it’ll still work fine in two or three years.
It’s also powered using a USB-C connection, making it chargeable with a much smaller accessory than the usual proprietary brick. And it comes in a choice of three colours. Microsoft also offers a student discount of 10pc on most of its laptops. Its only slight drawback is that its onboard storage (128GB) is a little lower than you’ll get from most other models.
If you don’t need to be toing and froing about with a laptop in your bag all the time, Dell’s Inspiron 15 3000 (€649 from Dell.com) is very hard to beat as a solid, basic all-rounder.
It has lots of ports (good for things like connecting it to a larger monitor), a reasonable keyboard and a decent 15.6-inch (non-touch) screen. It’s not exactly light (1.9kg) or ultraportable. But with a good engine (8GB, Intel i5) under the hood, there’s not much you’ll face at school or college that you can’t do on this. 256GB of storage will easily be enough, too.
Recommendation: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go (€739 before student discount from Microsoft online)
I am updating my PC to an Apple MacBook Air. Is there a method to transfer all my data, files, photos and other stuff from my PC to my Apple MacBook? I have an iPhone 11, will this assist me in setting up my MacBook? — Nuala Curran
There are one or two ways of doing this. A word of warning, though: it has the potential to snag an entire afternoon or evening doing it. There are some good basic steps you can follow on Apple’s website (support.apple.com) that will guide you through the migration process (called Windows Migration Assistant). Another advisory, though — you will need a little bit of tech awareness to follow it.
Microsoft and Apple have a somewhat friendly relationship in letting you move data between the two systems. So if you use this migration tool, your new MacBook Air should show you your contacts, email accounts, photos and other stuff in their correct slots when it’s finished.
As for your iPhone 11, this will be handy as you need your iCloud account to set up your MacBook in the first place. But in general, it’s quite easy to set up and the MacBook gives you fairly basic step-by-step instructions.
I have a cordless phone and a land line with Eir. I am having a new kitchen fitted shortly and the jack in the kitchen has to be removed. I was wondering if there was a cordless phone available that could pick up a signal from the main jack point in the family room? I was hoping to keep a phone permanently plugged into a jack (and mains) in the family room and another phone in the kitchen without a jack present. — Martin Woods
Presuming you already use a cordless (Dect) phone, you should be able to buy another one and it should work with your existing base station — as well as the first phone. You shouldn’t need another jack. Normally, a cordless phone has a range of at least 100 feet, which is usually enough for even the largest home.
Google Nest Doorbell, €199 from store.google.com
Now that some of us are being called back into offices, who’s there to receive packages? One solution is to get Google’s new (battery powered) Nest Doorbell. When someone buzzes it on your door, a small camera connects that person to a live video stream on your phone. You can then tell them to leave the package in the green bin (or wherever you like).
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, €1,899 from Samsung
The main upgraded feature on this 7.6-inch foldable phone is the addition of Samsung’s S-Pen, making it easier to write notes. It also now comes with an IPX8 rating, meaning it’s water and dust resistant. And Samsung has strengthened the aluminium used in the phone’s frame, as well as adding scratch-proof protection to the screen.
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