Computer: Check!

Finding a good travel laptop can be a difficult thing. You want something that is small, light, durable, has great battery life, and enough inputs to help you around the world. Oh, and cheap. We previously posted about trying to find a good travel laptop ever since we decided we were definitely going to take one. Well, I think we’ve found what we’ve been looking for, so take note if you’re in the same boat. It is actually a laptop we did not even consider in our first roundup (due to it not even being announced at the time and all).

Last year Asus released the eee pc, a small 7″ notebook for $400 that ran linux and basically was only good for accessing the internet. We mentioned in our previous post the myriad of reasons these would not work for us. They’re tiny, but that means tiny screens, cramped keyboards, poor battery life, no computing power. Turns out, this year companies are busy putting out slightly larger (and thus much more comfortable), substantially more powerful “netbooks.” There’s a larger eee pc, the HP Mini-Note, the Acer Aspire One, and the MSI Wind that have all come out in the last few months, and Dell is releasing one soon. They’re useful because they provide *just* enough power at a great price point, and we chose what I thought was the best of the bunch, the MSI Wind. The Wind has a 10″ screen (with 1024*600 resolution) and weighs just over two pounds (and the computer feels quiet durable), so already it fits those important criteria. Here it is lined up with my 13″ Macbook to give you an idea of just how small it is.

But its the fact that its pretty much a full-fledged computer otherwise that makes it really appealing. It has an Intel Atom processor, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB hard drive, SD card reader, webcam, 3 USB ports, and a “big size” keyboard. I’m typing on it right now and am not feeling cramped, Theresa’s small hands will probably find it perfect (I guess she’ll let you know when she gets around to playing with it). It runs Windows XP very well (and ambitious people have gotten OSX 10.5 running on it with little issues). The only downside so far is that it only comes with a 3 cell battery that lasts 2 hours or so, though there is supposed to be an add on 6 cell battery that will last 4-5 hours. Put those together and the computer should last 7 hours or so.

So we found what we’re looking for, a lightweight, long battery life computer that we can use to keep up with email, write on the blog, use skype, do light photo editing, and other odd things. The best part of it is yet to come though … the price. The MSRP for these is $499, which is way less than we were anticipating spending. This is useful both in saving money, and keeping us from over-worrying about the safety of our equipment all the time. $500 is a lot of money, but a $500 laptop is way more replaceable than a $2000 one. So overall, I’m highly pleased with what this computer can do, though we’ll have to test it out some more to be sure, and I think I’ll be even more pleased when I’m the one hauling it around the world.

So if you’re looking for a good travel laptop, take a look at these types of laptops. All of the brands I mentioned above are in the $500-700 range, they all have 8-10″ screens, and all are powerful enough for your everyday tasks. I went with the Wind because of the specifications at a lower price, but they all looked pretty useful and effective to me.