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Technology

How do I set up an ergonomic home office?

Polly wants to dump her laptop for a more ergonomic computer due to neck and shoulder pain

I’m an academic with neck and shoulder problems and fear turning into a hunchback through too much peering at the screen. I’m now moving house and setting up a home office. I want to dispense with my laptop – the source of my problems – and buy a desktop and an ergonomic keyboard.

I’m confused about whether to get an all-in-one or a PC with a separate monitor. I am only really going to use it for internet and typing articles. I realise that this means I can look to the cheaper end of the market, but is there much slowdown in speed at that end? Should I be spending the money to get a good processor? Polly

Laptops can be considered harmful if used for prolonged serious work rather than casual use. If you have neck and shoulder problems, you should seek medical help. I’ve been saved twice by an excellent physiotherapist, at my own expense. I’ve also spent time and money mitigating problems, but there is no panacea. Buying an ergonomic keyboard is only one part of a solution that could also include the mouse, desk, chair, lighting, work habits and, perhaps, glasses.

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Which is the best tablet for an artist?

Hugh wants to buy his wife a new tablet to replace her old Samsung Galaxy 10.1. What are the options?

My wife is an artist. She has been using a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 since 2014. This allows her to draw and paint using a stylus supplied with the pad. She loves using it, but it’s past its best and the battery won’t hold a charge for very long. I am thinking of buying her a replacement. What should I go for? Hugh

If you’re an artist who uses computers, you’ve never had it so good, as former prime minister Harold Macmillan almost said. Touch-sensitive screens are becoming ubiquitous, so there are dozens of usable devices at a wide range of price points. However, they are not all the same, and people can be confused by the differences.

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What's the best mini-laptop for YouTube and writing reports?

Peter wants a mini-laptop to go with his old BlackBerry phone. What are his options?

I’m old-school now at 71, but I’m still designing and working as a consultant. I had nothing but BlackBerry smartphones for years. Then it all went wrong. My boring Samsung J-something does most things but I miss my BlackBerry. I found an old one in a drawer, and it fits nicely in my pocket when off out. However, when I’m in a coffee place or relaxing, I’d like a big screen for YouTube, WhatsApp links, and writing reports. I’m thinking of rebooting my nice small BlackBerry and putting a smallish mini-laptop in my bag. Any thoughts? Peter

BlackBerry lost its premier position in the market – when its phones were used by everyone from Paris Hilton to then US president Barack Obama – but you can still buy BlackBerry phones. The company licensed its name and technology to China’s TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited (TCT), which sells phones under the TCL, BlackBerry Mobile and Alcatel brand names. It also makes TV sets, soundbars, headphones, air conditioners and dehumidifiers. (The BlackBerry name has also been used by Optiemus Infracom, selling phones as BlackBerry Mobile India, and BB Merah Putih, which briefly served the Indonesian market.)

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How do I remove malware from my Windows laptop?

Don’s laptop is infected with malware and he’d like a clean machine, what’s the best way?

What’s the cheapest way to get my Windows laptop swept and cleaned out of malware etc? Don

There are two obvious ways to clean a Windows laptop, and both of them are free. The first is to run a number of anti-malware programs to find and remove the bad stuff. The second is to reset it to factory condition.

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What’s the best cheap tablet or e-reader for PDF files?

Thomas needs a device to read A4 PDFs of technical papers that is cheaper than a good laptop

I am looking for an e-reader for technical papers. These are usually only available in fixed, non-reflowable, PDF format and sized for printing on A4 paper. They cannot be read on a typical e-reader such as a Kindle because the text is too small. I don’t need the fancy note-taking capabilities of options such as the Remarkable PDF reader. Can you recommend something that doesn’t cost as much as a decent laptop? Thomas

The main attraction of Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) is that people can read the files on almost any kind of device. The corollary is that almost any device will work as a PDF reader, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops running almost any operating system. Indeed, so many people need to read PDF files for business and educational research purposes, there are e-readers designed for the task.

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