Just as the world evolves so does the way we travel. Gone are the days of people solely relying on word of mouth and their trusty guide book. Now we travel with smartphones and computers to help navigate the world. But how do you pick a computer for travel? Do you go by weight, look, function or something else entirely?
The answer is all the above in my opinion. How you travel and what you plan to do with your computer while away will be a direct influence on what the best option will be. To help you make a decision I’ve picked three popular choices and outlined who I think they fit best depending on the travel lifestyle you lead.
Over the last 12-18 months I’ve seen the rise of iPads and other tablets in my travels. What’s not to love about something so portable right? You can watch movies, surf the net, answer emails and even skype your family at home. I fell for their charm and bought one to substitute into my travels and allow me to cut back on carrying my main laptop everywhere.
While the idea of the tablet was great, for me it just didn’t fit into my long term travel lifestyle and I found I used it more for entertainment and then reached for my computer to get the serious work done. There was some good to come from it as I found out the following:
- The tablet was a great time killer on long flights as it flips out and fits on the tray tables far better than my computer ever will
- Really portable and slipped into my backpack as if it wasn’t there
- Found it easy to get online with wifi or mobile (if you buy the 3G version)
- Really long battery life
But ultimately the biggest killer for me was the lack of ability to backup my photos to it and really work on it like I would a real laptop.
At the time I set off to travel netbooks were all the rage. They were small, cheap and most of all light which matched all the criteria for someone carrying everything on their back. The problem I found with them was that they were never overly fast and trying to type on the small cramped keyboards drove me up the wall even just for short emails.
Fast forward a few years and netbooks have morphed into what are now known as ultrabooks. Think of them as the sexier version of a netbook with all the power of a standard laptop. I’ve been road testing the Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook the last few weeks and can honestly say if you are looking for a travel computer then have a good look at an ultrabook.
What’s unique about the Dell ultrabook is that not only does it work as a laptop it’s also got a flip screen where you can convert it into a tablet. I’ve played with it and found the flip over to tablet mode has been great to play with on the couch or watch a movie comfortably while I could then flip back to laptop mode for the serious work.
Ultrabooks are defiantly the new go anywhere device for people looking to travel. I wish they’d existed when I bought my first computer for travel so I didn’t need to cart around my bigger unit that had the power I needed.
Lastly it would be remiss of me not to mention Apple and their amazing Macbook Air lineup as I bought myself one a few months ago to replace my ageing macbook. The Macbook Air is perhaps the top of the line travel computer and more suited to the extreme power users who seek to explore the world while taking their work with them. After all they are far from the cheapest computer to be travelling with.
Perhaps the only downside I’ve experienced with travelling with a computer this expensive is that I’m conscious of where it is all the time. While I’d love to say travelling the world is safe I’ve been in hostels where computers have been stolen and heard of friends who’d have their bags snatched in the street. When laying down money on a computer like this for travel you really need to think about your usage.
So if you are deciding between a Tablet, Laptop/Ultabook or a Macbook Air for your travels here’s what I think fits best.
Tablets are a great fit for those looking for short term travel. It offers you the convenience of a bigger screen like a laptop but gives you all the portability for packing light.
Ultrabooks are the new netbook and come with everything you’ll need on the road in battery life, light weight and a perfect size to fit in any bag. With the Dell unit offering a flip screen giving you the best of both tablet and laptop worlds it’s hard to go past these as your go to travel device for the masses.
The Macbook Air is the freelance travellers dream machine. It’s got all the power for you to edit photos/video or spend all day designing and developing the next big thing online. While its size and battery life guarantees even the longest travel days won’t be boring.
While all opinions are my own, the Dell XPS 12 Ultabook was gifted to me by Dell Australia.
What computer do you travel with?