Ask Adrian: Our technology editor addresses your most complicated technological issues



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Question: I need to buy a new laptop. I want to do the usual things. But I'm an amateur photographer, so I'd like one that can handle photography needs like post-processing. My budget is around € 1,500. I was looking at the Dell XPS 15. Do you have any better suggestions? I know very little about computers.

– Mary McGee, town of Wicklow

Answer: Usually when someone says they want to do "the usual stuff" on a laptop, I consider this as Web browsing, Netflix, Facebook, email, online banking and some other everyday activities. And for that, I always recommend something in the range of € 500 to € 700 because a laptop at that level will do all this well and last three to four years.

But you say you want one that will "handle the needs of photography" like "post-processing". This is one of the few activities (besides games or coding) where I definitely recommend going for something a bit more advanced. Otherwise, you can end up with a frustrating and irritating experience.

As you can imagine, this better specification translates to being more expensive.

Opening and editing photos needs a bit more graphic power to run smoothly, especially with time. It also benefits more than most computing activities from a good quality screen.

In today's environment, this means that you will ideally have a laptop with at least 8 GB of Ram memory and a really reliable chip from medium to high. You'll also benefit from a generous storage allowance (at least 256 GB, but ideally 512 GB or more), although if you're using an online service or an external hard drive to regularly back up photos (as it should), so essential as it already was.

You've clearly done some homework. The laptop you mention – the Dell XPS 15 – is one of the best performing laptops on the market and comes with most of what you are looking for. At the time of writing, there is a sale in Ireland (at Dell.ie) for the XPS 15, with about € 200 off most variants, but this may be over by the time this article is published.

At the non-selling price of € 1,529, you will have what I consider a very good laptop, well capable of handling photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

The addition of more power to the engine costs around € 100 to € 150 per item. For example, you can get an additional 8 GB of RAM memory for that price. Or more 256 GB of storage memory. Or an upgrade from a (good) Intel Core i5 chip to an (excellent) Intel Core i7 chip. Each brings a little more capacity. (For an increase in screen quality to 4K, it would be a bit more expensive.)

But I would really just say that someone needs to consider these upgrades – like 16GB Ram or a Core i7 or 4K HDR chip – whether they're really devoting a lot of time and effort to photo editing or getting interested in videos. edition. In other words, for non-professionals, the cheapest specification attached to the base model XPS 15 should be absolutely adequate.

There are, of course, alternative options.

Both Lenovo and HP make good lines on 13, 14 and 15-inch laptops with similar specifications. The line of laptops & # 39; Surface & # 39; is also excellent.

Apple's MacBook Pro is a perennial heavyweight when it comes to creator-oriented, photography-oriented laptops. But unfortunately, the 15-inch models are well above € 2,000. There is a basic 13-inch model with good power specifications (despite a very low storage at 128 GB) for € 1,549, which is within reach of your budget. Someone who likes to use Macs can choose this model from Dell. But if you're used to using laptops and Windows PCs, Dell is probably the best option. In addition, the Dell's XPS 15-inch screen is about 25 percent larger than the 13-inch MacBook Pro screen, offering a significant advantage when editing more precise details.

If your screen size is not critical to you, one final option would be the iPad Pro. Its 13-inch variant comes with 256GB of storage and a good keyboard for € 1,519. (You can get the same setup but with only 64 GB of storage for $ 1,349, but this is a false economy for someone in your position because you'll need a basic amount of storage for the photos you're editing continuously.)

If you think using a touchscreen pen to apply the finishing touches would be helpful (for example, Adobe editing programs), the Apple Pencil would cost another € 135.

When that happens, the iPad Pro is what I personally use to edit 90pc of the photos (and videos) that I shoot, privately and professionally. But I'm used to the touchscreen format and I like it. I also edit them frequently with lighter and faster software applications than Adobe Photoshop, including Snapseed (free). And I think the other benefits of the iPad Pro (great battery, great screen, portability and fast speed) serve me a lot for my other daily tasks.

But if you're comfortable using a Windows-based laptop, I'd stick with that format.

Recommendation: Dell XPS 15 (€ 1.299 from Dell.ie at time of writing, € 1,499 normal price)

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