In the last few years, laptop travel has taken off, and backpackers now contemplate bringing a laptop on their trip just as much as a sleeping bag.
From staying in touch to typing documents and being able to download travel photos, there can be a real benefit of bringing a personal laptop on a backpacking trip.
Choosing a Travel Laptop
Will it mostly be used for chatting on Skype with your family back home? Will you be running your internet business from it?
- Size and Weight: As travelers, size and weight are two of the most significant aspects to think about for laptop travel. A big bulky computer that weighs as much as a brick probably won't be as beneficial as a slim laptop that can easily be thrown into a small day-pack.
- Price: Unless you already own a laptop, you might need to purchase one especially with your backpacking trip in mind. Budget travelers don't have a lot of money to dish out on a travel laptop, so often a low price is a big factor.
- Battery Life: That old laptop from 1999 probably has a battery life of about 15 seconds. Will that be much help on that 10-hour bus ride? Look at how long the battery will last before making a purchase.
- Specifications: Speed, memory, hard drive, graphics, DVD/CD drive, and so on. Think about the main purpose of your laptop while you travel to choose specs that fit your needs.
- Safety and Value: Depending on where you travel, it's important to acknowledge that foreigners are often the target of theft. Could you deal with your laptop getting damaged or stolen? If it's just too valuable, you might want to get a laptop that won't be so special (depending on what you plan on doing).
4 Kinds of Laptop Travel Computers
13″ MacBook Air
Macintosh produces cutting edge stylish laptops that have incredible functionality and an array of attractive features. The 13″ MacBook Air merely weighs 2.9 pounds and is prided by it's ultra thin .68″ thickness.
Depending on a choice of upgrades, the laptop is loaded with a fast Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a medium sized hard drive, and a battery that lasts for about 7 hours. It's the epitome of stylish laptop travel.
The biggest drawback is the steep cost of $1,000 to $2,000 (depending on the number of upgrades you choose). While it uses flash memory storage, which is less prone to problems then regular hard drives, you might consider the Macbook Air too valuable to risk tossing around in a backpack.
15″ MacBook Pro
The 15″ MacBook Pro is the dream laptop for all graphic and video designers. If you are running an online business, doing some serious blogging, or taking professional photos, it doesn't get much better than this!
It's installed with a lightning quick processor, a monster hard drive, a 7-hour battery, and a glossy screen that displays everything with precision.
The 15″ MacBook Pro costs around $1,800 for the base model. The drawbacks are that it is a large size laptop (14.35 inches by 9.82 inches) and weighs in a rather hefty 5.6 pounds.
Again, this is the personal jet of laptop travel. Ask yourself if you need all the features and style?
Asus Eee PC Netbook
Asus was at the forefront of introducing a Netbook with their Eee PC, a cheap, compact and ultra-transportable internet machine. These days netbooks seem to be getting more and more advanced by the day and every company is launching their own version.
Netbooks are essentially made for using the internet, and are decent for doing small day to day computer tasks like looking at photos, writing, or watching movies (from the hard drive – Not DVD's).
They usually come with moderate processors, medium sized hard drives, and are attractive for their very small size (anywhere from 7 – 10 inches), low weight, and cheap cost.
The biggest drawbacks to netbooks are that they come with no DVD or CD-Rom drives, sometimes the smaller-than-normal keyboards can get cramped, and they can get frustrating when editing photos or doing complex computer tasks.
The Asus Eee PC goes for about $350, weighs a little over 2.5 pounds, and has a battery life of about 6 hours. A netbook will succeed when it comes to surfing the web and Skyping all night with friends and family.
14″ Toshiba Satellite L645-S4104
The biggest market for laptops in the world is for normal full sized PC notebooks. These laptops can range in size from 13″ to 17″ or more, cover a wide range of weights, and can be ordered with near limitless specifications to suit one's needs. PC laptops offer probably the best amount of computer power for the money you pay.
If you need to handle serious computer tasks while traveling but want to avoid the flashy cost of Mac, a full size PC notebook might be a good option. However, as laptop travel goes, full-size PC laptops can be bulky and heavy.
Let's narrow in on the 14″ Toshiba Satellite L645-S4104. The laptop is installed with a fast Intel processor, 4 GB of RAM, a massive 500 GB hard drive, a fast 8x DVD drive, a weight of 5 pounds, and a 5 hour battery life. The retail cost is just under $600.
Popular Software Programs
Of course, which software programs you have installed goes back to the intentions you have for your laptop while traveling.
Some laptops may come installed with all the software you need, while others could use an upgrade.