First, let’s talk restrictions. Last time there was a $500 limit. Let’s lower that to $400 and keep this interesting. Let’s also open it up beyond just laptops. Bring on the tablets and convertibles.
Enough preamble, let’s get into the picks:
If you’re an Apple fan and a minimalist traveler, this is the travel computer for you. That’s all there really is to say about that. Unfortunately, this is the top of our budget range — there’s no room for extras or add-ons. Get the old Mini here for $300.
Acer C720 Chromebook + Kindle Paperwhite = $250 + $120 = $370
Acer’s newest Chromebook suffers from the same problem as the new iPad Mini — supply is limited right now so you might have to shop around. It gets 8+ hours of battery life thanks to the new Intel “Haswell” processor. It’s light and portable and has a real keyboard. It’s awesome. And if you want even more insane battery life — check out the Kindle Paperwhite. It’ll last up to 8 weeks. There’s even money left in the budget for a pair of cases.
Just remember: Chromebooks only do what web browsers do (and that means no Skype). Skype from your smartphone or use Google Hangouts to video chat.
That said, Chromebooks are very secure, they make backing up your data to Google Drive very easy, and they’re super easy to share with people you meet on the road — anybody with a Gmail account can login and use the machine without you having to worry about them snooping on your email.
Not willing to commit to Chrome or iOS because you need a full-on Windows laptop? Take a look at this computer. Great battery life inside a solid package. Windows 8 and a touchscreen. That’s tough to beat.
Asus Transformer Book T100 - $380
Tough to beat, you say? Well, the Asus Transformer Book T100 probably pulls it off for many. This guy is a convertible tablet/laptop. It runs Windows 8, Microsoft Office, Skype, etc. It’s tempting. The 10″ screen makes it smaller than the Dell and the Acer … but man, as far as travel computers go, the Asus Transformer Book T100 is almost compromise-free. I’ve been eyeing the Chromebook, but this Asus has made me reconsider.
That’s it! There have never been more good choices when it comes to staying connected on the road.
Which one will you pick? Leave a comment.