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Lightweight, portable, and durable, you can’t beat these travel laptops.

A self-admitted computer geek, I need computer access even while traveling. Since internet cafes aren’t always available, I’ve had to drag my laptop on more than a few adventures.


Photo by Scott Ableman

My laptop helps me stay in contact with people back home, write, and keeps me entertained when I can’t sleep during those long haul flights.

When picking a laptop, look for one that’s light enough for traveling, durable, and with a good battery life.

1. ASUS Eee PC 904HA


Price: $348.99 | BUY

This laptop is a little heavier than many of the ultra portables available. It makes the list however because it is cheap.

Retailing at $348.99, it is one of the most affordable laptops on this list, and let’s face it, money matters to the budget traveler.

It doesn’t have a DVD drive, which may be a deal breaker for some travelers who like to watch movies on their laptop, although I usually find traveling with DVDs precarious.

It’s one more thing to carry, and they scratch and break easily.

However, the Eee PC has a whopping 160GB hard drive giving lots of space to store music and movies while you’re gone, and three USB ports, so you can store or transfer your movies easily.

It comes with the Atom processor which uses less power and produces less heat – and ASUS claims that the casing is scratch resistant, which is always a plus.

Specifications

Windows XP Operating System; 8.9 inch display screen; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor; 160GB hard drive; 1GB Ram; High Speed Wireless Connectivity with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g. Weight: 5 lb.

2. Apple MacBook MB061LL/B


Price: $964.99 | BUY

Like the ASUS, this is a heavier laptop but it has many pros going for it too.

This is a nice basic MacBook. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles that the MacBook Pro has, but my feeling is that bells and whistles are for when you’re back home, not experiencing other cultures.

I love the AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi connectivity in this model. Pretty much if there’s a Wi-Fi signal around, you’ll find it.

The screen’s a nice size for a travel laptop. Not as small as the Eee PC, but some people prefer the larger screen.

It has a built in iSight camera, great for keeping in touch with loved ones back home, and the battery life is about 3+ hours, so you won’t have to keep trying to find places to charge it.

Specifications

Mac OS X V10.5 Leopard operating system; 13.3 inch display; 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo Processor with 4 MB shared L2 Cache; 80 GB hard drive; 1GB Ram, built in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi. Weight: 8.6 pounds.

3. Toshiba Satellite Pro U400-S1001X


Price: $799.00 | BUY

If I had one word to describe this laptop, it would be sturdy.

It has solid hinges making it more durable for travel.

Also, it has a “sleep and charge” feature, so that even while your laptop is hibernating or switched off but plugged into an outlet, you can charge USB devices like an iPod.

The only real downside for this Toshiba is that its speakers aren’t fantastic. Since I always travel with a decent set of noise canceling headphones, this is not a problem.

Specifications

Windows XP Operating System; 13.3 inch display; Intel Core 2 Duo T8100/2.1 GHz; 160 GB hard drive; 1 GB Ram; High Speed Wireless Connectivity with Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b 802.11 g. Weight: 4.6 lb.

4. HP Mini 1000


Price: $699.98 | BUY

Finally we come to the smallest laptop on our list. Weighing in at less than 3 pounds and with a screen size of 10 inches, this is a tiny Netbook.

However, unlike many other Netbooks on the market, this one doesn’t compromise with keyboard size.

HP expanded the keys to the edges of the keyboard, making for much larger keys and a more comfortable typing experience.

Unlike the ASUS which has a 6 cell battery, the HP Mini only has a 3 cell battery.

However, according to CNET, the HP Mini 1000 battery lasted almost 3 hours during testing, before needing to charge, so most users shouldn’t have problems with battery life.

Its processor is comparable to the Eee PC but it does have a smaller hard drive. If you want light and portable, the HP Mini 1000 is certainly worth considering.

Specifications

Windows XP Operating System; 10.2 inch display; 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270; 60GB hard drive; 1GB Ram; High Speed Wireless Connectivity with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g. Weight: 2.5 lb.

Editor’s Note: For more options of lightweight travel laptops, check out Amazon’s catalog.

About The Author

Shiromi Arserio

Shiromi Arserio is British freelance writer currently making the Hawaiian Islands her home. She is webmistress of the science fiction news site http://www.igp-scifi.com. Along with being a self-proclaimed fan-girl, she loves to explore "new worlds", most recently the Great Barrier Reef.

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  • Hal

    Thanks for the roundup! I think I see one of these in my future.

  • Tim Patterson

    Great article! I love my new Eee PC – typing on it right now!

  • tom

    Great overview. I have been looking at travel laptops and keep running into these same four. I finally went with a Mac but worry that if it breaks, it will be more difficult to fix in PC-dominated countries. I also wanted to mention the MSI Wind, which has a keyboard that seemed a bit easier to use than the other tiny-PC's.

  • Eva

    These sound pretty cool, but I have to admit I've never understood the travel laptop phenomenon — either I'm working from the road, in which case I need all the bells and whistles of a full-blown laptop (not to mention a normal-sized keyboard and screen, since I'll be putting in a ton of hours) or I'm not working, in which case I don't need a lappy at all. I'm curious if travel laptop users have a different laptop they use at home, when they're stationary? Or do you use the tiny one all the time?

  • Craig

    @Eva – Same one all the time. A 12" Apple Powerbook G4. It's got some serious dents in it nowadays though. My wife and I have been sharing it for the almost-3 years we've been travelling full time. We recently bought an ASUS Eee 900 so we can stop squabbling over who gets the laptop. Sometimes we play frisbee with it, but it's not very aerodynamic.

  • Julie

    @Eva: Like Craig, I use the same on all the time– a Toshiba Satellite. It's a bit worse for the wear after having been trekked around the US and Latin America for 2+ years, but it's held up fairly well, all things considered. It's heavy, but as you said, when you're working on the road, you do need many of the bells and whistles.

  • Bill

    I just dropped my Asus eee PC901 18 inches onto a wooden floor on my boat and it still works perfectly. It has a 12-Gb solid-state hard dri ve. This must surely make it a candidate?

  • http://asiaforvisitors.com Michael

    I have a eee901 as well, which I think is obsolete since the 904 came out. It’s almost a year old, and my only complaint – a minor one – is the battery life. You failed to mention that the 904 claims up to a 7 hour battery life.

    I love my 901, and no longer hesitate to take it with me when I travel. I generally do not like notebooks, and have a desktop at home, but the Asus is adequate for checking email, writing up blog entries and sorting pictures. I don’t find the limited storage on the Asus a problem. Everything I do needs to end up on my home desktop anyway, so I just carry a large (8 GB) thumb drive with me, and all my work is on that. The solid state nature of the storage on the Asus makes it very sturdy.

  • http://qwazee.com/about Stefan

    As an alternative for the Asus Eee PC I like the Samsung NC 10 (http://www.sammynetbook.com/samsung-nc10) or its successor the N110 with a larger touchpad and longer battery life (9.5h I believe).

  • http://www.lenovo.com Tom

    http://www.lenovo.com has a ton of great travel laptops

  • http://bariatricsurgerydigest.com Camila Perry

    the design of the MSI Wind is similar to the basic netbooks you can find around. the price point of this netbook is cheaper than acer or dell netbooks “

  • Lars Liden

    If just picked up a HP Mini 210-1095NR. Quite impressed and only $280 on Amazon (Red color only)
    http://goo.gl/BEYZ

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