It’s time to start thinking about back-to-school technology

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With the new school and college year fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about the technology you need. From laptops and smartphones to the less ubiquitous technology, we’ve got it covered.

LAPTOPS

Remember when the death of the laptop was predicted? Within a few years we were all expected to dispense with the regular notebook and embrace smartphones and tablets. But it turns out that may have been premature. Tablets haven’t quite bridged the gap, and smartphones, while more powerful and useful than ever, haven’t taken over completely yet.

The operative word there is “yet”. Docks like Samsung’s DeX, which turns the smartphone into the brains of a computer, increase the likelihood that the traditional laptop’s days are numbered. But for the moment we are still looking at laptops for those who need to submit large volumes of work on a regular basis – including students. So what to choose?

Budget

If you are using a laptop for basic functions such as web-browsing, checking email and writing some documents the Chromebook is hard to beat. They don’t have a huge amount of storage space or RAM, although 4GB is usually sufficient, and when you trade that off against the price the Chromebook seems like a bargain. It’s only suitable if you don’t need proprietary software, though. Try the Acer 14in Chromebook, which starts at €300, or spend a little more to get some extra storage space and RAM, upgrading from the 32GB to 64GB capacity.

Mid-range

This is a crowded space, but the Lenovo Yoga stands out for its versatility. It flips between a notebook and a tablet without the extra money premium demanded by some of the other hybrid devices. The Yoga 510 offers a 14in screen, AMD A 6 chip and a 1TB hard drive.

The Lenovo Yoga: it stands out for its versatility

Premium

The Surface Book 2 is a funny beast. It turns from full laptop to slightly heavier than normal tablet with the press of a button. But it’s not just a gimmick designed to please tablet fans. Being able to detach the screen and body means that it becomes far more portable, and with the Surface Pen it can function as a notebook of sorts. Connect it back up and you get all the benefits of a laptop – ports, proper keyboard – and the entire thing isn’t too hefty to lug around.

If you want something thinner look at the HP Spectre 13, which crams a lot into its slim stylish frame.

SMARTPHONES

Budget

Budget smartphones used to be cheap. And by cheap we mean flimsy and a bit rubbish. Not so these days. There are plenty of lower-priced options that don’t break the bank but deliver on functions. The Moto G has been a staple in the budget smartphone stakes for a few years now, and this year’s update, the G6, is no exception. Under €200, it has a decent screen and works quickly.

Mid-range

When it comes to decent mid-priced phones, Huawei has done a lot of good work. The P20 is not quite on the level of the P20 Pro, but it combines a decent camera and a fast-working system with a bloat free Android experience. The camera is more than up to scratch, taking some great photos and videos, although the P20 Pro’s impressive night mode is absent here.

Premium

The iPhone versus Android debate is still raging, but competition is good for consumers. Regardless of whether you choose to go with Apple or Samsung you’ll come out of it with a smartphone that can keep up with your demands. On one side you have the iPhone X, with its face ID security and a camera that will rival your regular point-and-shoot device. On the other you have the Samsung Galaxy S9+, which is still a great premium smartphone with an eye-catching design. The camera has some nice features, such as selective focus, and a slow-mo video mode that will probably only get used when you are trying to avoid studying for exams. You’ll need deep pockets for both: the iPhone X starts from €1,179 sim-free and the Galaxy S9+ starts at €1,099.



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