Data Mining

It seems we’re back in full swing here at LOW. This is because Theresa came home today with a stack of books about eight high, covering the full scope of South America. So it seems she was serious about her request to get things more organized once I got home. Anyway, stay tuned for plenty more updates and we get further and further planned. But that is not what I want to discuss today. I want help from all of you in internet-land.

South America Guidebooks

We have decided to take a computer with us. This, in fact, has been decided for a while, but thinking about it again has been sparked by the current inability of our desktop computer to stay powered on. Like a teenager (in fact, that might actually be how old it is), it’s getting very touchy when you ask it to do anything. So its time to start looking for a new one. Anyway, having a computer with us will make blogging so much easier, Theresa will be able to do some freelance writing, and we’ll be able to look at our pictures as we go, and perhaps watch a movie now and again.

So as the technically inclined one of our little duo, it pretty much falls to me to figure this out. But I’m struggling to figure out what type of computer we’ll want to have, let alone a particular model. Here’s what we’d ideally like: an easily portable, incredibly durable, powerful, long-lasting laptop for a minimum of dollars. These, unfortunately, don’t exist, and we’re going to have to compromise somewhere. Let me lay out some of the options I’ve been researching for you.

Ultra-portable: These are all the rage lately, like the eee pc and the samsung q1. They’re tiny, shiny, relatively inexpensive, and … not very useful at all. They combine tiny screens with poor processors and very little memory, which, with the amount of pictures we’ll take and work with, probably won’t cut it. Combine that with a tiny and uncomfortable keyboard and I don’t think we’re in business.

12″ and under: Businessman love these workhorse type computers. Small and light, pretty durable, relatively powerful, but very expensive. We’re talking over 2 grand for a computer that isn’t much more powerful than our finicky desktop (though hopefully they have much less sass). A top of the line computer in this class probably would be our choice if money was no object.

14″ and under: Now we’re getting into the relatively larger laptops (though the MacBook Air technically fits in this category). Nevertheless, as we’re just backpacking around, size and weight is a big issue. These are the laptops that are more inexpensive and more powerful, but with every dollar you save you sacrifice a little durability and a little size. I’m a big fan of Macs now that I use one at work, so a regular MacBook is definitely in the running. Its funny to talk about Apple as a value purchase, but the basic MacBook definitely represents one to me. I don’t like the lack of an SD port though. The MacBook Air doesn’t have enough ports in general to make me happy, and frankly, I’d be scared to break the thing.

So not that that is a complete review, but I’m sure many of you out there know much more about this than I do. Right now the competition seems to be between a MacBook and a higher end 12″ or so laptop. We’re looking for something that will have a quality, long lasting battery, an SD slot (I know the MacBook doesn’t have this =( ), decent power, all the internet connectivity ports you can cram in, durable construction, and low price. Does anyone know the magic solution? Has anyone traveled backpacker style with a laptop? What did you find to be the most important factors? Thanks for all the input guys.