What makes for good laptops — or any kind of portable computing devices — when you’re on the go?
I may prefer my iPad (and the tablet form factor) to the traditional laptop model when I’m traveling because it’s just so darned portable, but I realize that I’m not everybody. I would even say my iPhone does a lot of the odd “computing” jobs I would have once delegated to a laptop.
Some people love their netbooks (while others find them to be underpowered and clunky). Some people love the light, thin bodies of their Ultrabooks (but don’t like the lack of peripherals — like DVD players — required to keep them light). Some people love their somewhat traditional (and kind of heavy, in my opinion) laptops because that’s just what they’re used to.
If I had to revert to the notebook lifestyle, here are some good laptops for traveling that I might consider.
Good Laptops for Traveling: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Convertible
I’ve chosen the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Convertible as my first choice among good laptops for traveling because it is a convertible; that is, it offers the best of both worlds as a tablet and a laptop form factor. This should please the laptop traditionalists while also giving them the chance to wrap their brains around the hype surrounding tablets that all these whippersnappers (like me) keep going on and on and on about. The downside to the Lenovo Yoga is that it can be quite an expensive laptop. Starting at $530 and going up to $1,280, the price depends on how powerful you need this laptop to be.
Good Laptops for Traveling: Apple MacBook Air
This list would not be complete without the Apple MacBook Air. It’s similar in form to an Ultrabook: being very portable by having a body that’s thin and light, but also powerful enough to run some high-end games (a good field test for a computer’s overall performance under potential processing duress), albeit on the lowest graphics settings. The MacBook Air comes in at $999 and goes to $1,399, so it is more expensive than the Yoga from the outset, but the two are pretty similar along the top end. The MacBook Air comes in 11-inch or 13-inch flavors, depending on how much space you want to take up when you’re wedged into that middle coach seat between Cleveland and Shanghai.
Good Laptops for Traveling: Dell Inspiron 15
Sure, Dell may get a bad rap by geeks and general consumers for some of its past mistakes, but the company still sells some great stuff at very affordable prices for the average computer shopper in this economy. The Dell Inspiron 15 is comparatively cheaper than its rivals at $450 and is pretty powerful with its Intel Core i3 inside. What makes this a good laptop for traveling? The fact that it is only about one inch thin — which makes it much easier to stuff into a crowded suitcase, backpack, or other piece of overburdened luggage without too much hassle. As long as it’s sufficiently padded to protect it against the hazards of baggage handling, it should survive the flight. (Just keep your fingers crossed that your bags make it to the same destination as you — though I think important electronics should always be portable enough to keep in your carry on).
Good Laptops for Traveling: Acer Aspire V5-171-6471
Is the Dell Inspiron not powerful enough for your needs? Then maybe the Acer Aspire V5 is more your speed. The Aspire is around $500 and comes with an Intel Core i5 and 6 GB of RAM. This means, in essence, that you’re getting an extra 2 GB of RAM and a processor upgrade for $50 — not too bad, right? Add the fact that the Aspire is less than one inch thin and just over three pounds, this is quite a fine laptop for working in transit from one place to another (or hanging out at the airport bar while you wait for your snowed-in flight to get clearance to go).
Good Laptops for Traveling: Sony VAIO S Series
With its 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 inside and 6 GB of RAM, the Sony VAIO S may be seen as a middle-of-the-road workhorse. The 15.5 inch display comes in at a full 1080p, and the touchpad has simple multi-gesture support. The Sony VAIO S Series also comes with Sony’s hard drive G-Sensor shock protection technology meaning “the laptop will protect itself from potential damage that could lead to data loss,” or at least that is what the blurb says. I’ve never dropped my laptop to tell you if it works or not, and I’m not about to!
So if you opt for the lower end of the spectrum or the higher end, I’ve tried to give you some options among what I consider to be good laptops for travel. Perhaps you’ve got a favorite that you think I overlooked? I’m the first to say I’m not perfect: please do tell us about it in the comments below so that we might all share in your findings!