Our tech edi­tor ADRIAN WECKLER tack­les your trick­i­est tech­nol­ogy prob­lems

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - BOOKS -

QMy daugh­ter is go­ing to col­lege and I want to get her a lap­top. She won’t need it for any­thing in­ten­sive, just pro­jects, writ­ing and re­search. Is there one you can rec­om­mend?

AThere are plenty of lap­tops around that will do a de­cent job for her. For col­lege, I think that two fac­tors are im­por­tant: weight and bat­tery life. This is as­sum­ing that she might be tak­ing it around with her on cam­pus or into the li­brary.

You don’t men­tion bud­get, so I’m go­ing to give you a range, start­ing at premium level and fin­ish­ing off at a bud­get model.

(I’m also go­ing to as­sume that this is for gen­eral col­lege study, not an es­pe­cially heavy duty tech­ni­cal or spe­cial­ist course — if this is wrong, email me back and I will ad­just the rec­om­men­da­tion.)

At the top, the two I’d rec­om­mend are Ap­ple’s MacBook Air (€1,129 from var­i­ous re­tail­ers) and Dell’s

XPS 13 ‘2-in-1’ (€1,300 from Both are top-of-the-line ma­chines that will last years, are rel­a­tively light to carry and have great fea­tures and spec­i­fi­ca­tions. They’re both 13-inch lap­tops, have a great bat­tery and are a plea­sure to use. The prices I’m quot­ing in­clude the ba­sic stor­age mem­ory al­lo­ca­tion (128GB); this is enough for any­one who won’t be load­ing movies or thou­sands of pho­tos on to it. How­ever, if you want more stor­age (256GB or 512GB), you’ll end up pay­ing around €200 (and up­wards) more.

The ad­van­tage to the Dell is that its high­def­i­ni­tion touch­screen flips right over so that it can also be used as a pre­sen­ta­tion tool or a great screen to watch Netflix in your daugh­ter’s down­time.

The MacBook’s strength is that Ap­ple’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem is still a bit friend­lier and eas­ier to use than Win­dows, and in­creas­ingly syn­chro­nises with iPhones. For ex­am­ple, it can make or take Face­Time calls or iMes­sages.

If that seems a bit pricey, there are sev­eral de­cent mod­els around the €700 to €800 mark.

For ex­am­ple, HP’s 14inch In­tel Core i5 lap­top (€780 from Cur­rys) is com­pletely solid with a very good bat­tery life. It’s not quite as sleek as the premium ma­chines but it will def­i­nitely do the job.

At a cheaper level, you’re look­ing at HP’s Pav­il­ion 14-bk070 (€539 from PC World) or Len­ovo’s Idea­pad 320 (€449 from Har­vey Nor­man). The HP is slightly faster and more pow­er­ful and has bet­ter bat­tery life, while the cheaper Len­ovo of­fers more stor­age but is sig­nif­i­cantly heav­ier.

In case you’re won­der­ing about an iPad or ‘work’ tablet, the good ones cost al­most as much as premium lap­tops. The best model, the iPad Pro, costs €930 in­clud­ing the Smart Key­board cover. It’s a bril­liant, pow­er­ful, light ma­chine (which I per­son­ally use a lot) but stu­dents of­ten look for some­thing more tra­di­tion­ally in a lap­top form func­tion. So while I gen­er­ally rec­om­mend it, I can’t thor­oughly say it’ll work for your daugh­ter bet­ter than other lap­tops.

One last thing: try to avoid ul­tra­bud­get lap­tops that cost un­der €300. By and large, they’re junk. (An ex­cep­tion is a Chrome­book, which works off web apps and is rel­a­tively sta­ble, de­spite typ­i­cally cost­ing only €299.)

REC­OM­MEN­DA­TION: Ap­ple MacBook Air (left, €1,129)

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