A few years ago I took the train from central Virginia to New York City for a week-long business trip. I brought my beautiful Dell laptop along. I loved its wide screen, full size keys, and that it had all the programs and features I needed. By the time I made it to the hotel, however, I had promised myself I would never travel with this laptop again. Despite everything I loved about it, there was one thing I quickly learned I couldn’t stand – its weight. How in the world could I take it overseas if it was too heavy for a domestic trip?!
The trip to NYC taught me that I had to downsize if I was going to continue traveling abroad. Months before I quit my job to head to Australia, I decided to purchase a netbook for the journey. Now I have to confess, the first time I saw a netbook I had to suppress a groan and keep my nose from wrinkling in distaste. I thought, the screen is too small. It must be impossible to type in such a confined space. Why would I spend money on something that probably can’t do half of what my current laptop can? I admit – I judged the mighty netbook before I really gave it a fair shot. What changed my mind?
About the netbook I bought, packed, and used on a daily basis in Australia:
ASUS Eee PC 1005PEB netbook
— Dimensions: 10.3 x 7 x 1.4 inches
— Weight: 2.8 pounds
— Intel Atom N450 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 Cache)
— 1GB DDR2 RAM, 1 SODIMM Slot, 2GB Max; Intel UMA graphics
— 250GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM); 0.3MP Webcam
— 10.1-Inch 1024X600 WSVGA LCD Display; 802.11 b/g/n; Chiclet Keyboard
— 6 cell battery for up to 11 Hours of Battery Life; Windows 7 Starter Operating System
>> Shop for the ASUS Eee PC Netbook on Amazon
I upgraded to the max 2GB of RAM at the recommendation of a friend who sells computers and electronics. An easy upgrade for a netbook!
Why I picked this one:
I’m fairly tech savvy, but when it comes to comparing specs, I really don’t know what I need! I spoke with a few members of Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” to help me learn about the specs of various netbooks and how these differed from full-size laptops currently on the market.
What did I learn? Any netbook would allow me to get online. They all had plenty of memory for my travel photos. It had everything I’d need except the two things netbooks simply don’t – a CD/DVD drive (I’d learn to live without) and MS Office (I know there are free tools out there but I wanted Word and Excel at the very least for the future).
I tried many netbooks and found that the keys were too close together. Or the keys made odd sounds with each keystroke. My fingers felt awkward typing a simple sentence. Ultimately I selected my netbook for a very simple reason: I could type on it easily. Like any product you plan to use daily, it’s important that you’ll actually be able to use it DAILY. I visited stores on multiple occasions and spent time using various netbooks before I realized that this model was the only one I felt comfortable using.
How I traveled with it:
For another $20-$30, I purchased a padded netbook-sized case. Both easily slid into the laptop pocket of the school-sized backpack I use as my go-to carry on item. When I was traveling and living out of hostels, it seemed that everyone had a netbook. Its small, lightweight nature was a dream come true.
What about the charge? It’s said to have a battery life of up to 11 hours, but like other owners of this netbook, I’ve found it gets 5-7 hours from full-charge when unplugged. I usually had no problem keeping it charged on the road. If I had, perhaps I should have spent more time out and about and less time on the computer!
Why I had to pack a netbook:
It doesn’t seem like long ago that everyone went to an internet cafe or paid to use computers in the hostel. Now, most of us want to keep in touch with loved ones from the road through a blog, social media, email, and Skype. Some of us even work while we’re traveling. Choosing to travel with a laptop probably doesn’t feel like a choice to many – it’s a given. And when it comes to packing light, a netbook packs enough power in a small package.
What type of laptop do you travel with? Any raves for a particular brand? Do you think you could manage without it? Tell us what you love (or don’t) about yours.