Looking for the perfect laptop for traveling
October 29, 2009 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the perfect laptop for traveling. Priorities are durability, lightness, and battery life, in that order. Performance is not too important, but it must run Windows 7 like a champ. Willing to consider netbooks.

Can spend up to $2000, but obviously I would like to spend no more than I absolutely have to.
posted by Afroblanco to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Why Win7? I suggest to my peeps that they wait a while before adopting the newest version of Windows. Not just because of stability of the OS, but because it takes a while for third parties to add support for the latest & greatest. And don't get me started on device drivers.

So, I'll suggest the Asus Eee PC with Win XP. 10.5 hour battery life -- no kidding. My wife loves it.
posted by MustardTent at 8:43 AM on October 29, 2009

I love me some Lenovo Thinkpads. Tough, fast, good battery life. A touch expensive, but they'll last forever.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:49 AM on October 29, 2009

So, I'll suggest the Asus Eee PC with Win XP. 10.5 hour battery life -- no kidding. My wife loves it.

Yeah I just bought one of these and it runs Windows XP flawlessly, is super light, great battery life, decent sized keyboard, etc. You'd probably need to at least upgrade the RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB to get Windows 7 running on it, but it's a great little machine for the price.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:54 AM on October 29, 2009

Also a recent Eee PC happy shopper (the 1005 HA Mustard Tent links to) - it came with Win XP pre-installed but I've been running Ubuntu 9.10; understand it works fine with Windows 7 if that's what you really need. The battery life is fantastic and hits the right spot between portable and functional for me (PDF/e-book reading and word processing aside from the usual).
posted by Abiezer at 9:00 AM on October 29, 2009

I have the HP EliteBook 2530p. It is quite light, and the build is quite rugged--but I have only had it a few months so I can't vouch for durability yet. Battery life is good, though probably around 6 hours or so with the medium-sized battery (I think there are three battery sizes.)
posted by massysett at 9:20 AM on October 29, 2009

I wouldn't count on a netbook to run Windows 7 "like a champ," considering that those around right now barely meet the requirements. And if you expect to do much typing, you will probably want a full size keyboard, not a shrunken netbook keyboard.

Like craven_morhead, I've also been happy with my Lenovo Thinkpad. It's very durable and the parts are user-replaceable. Here are their laptops - many of them are available with Windows 7. The Thinkpad X Series is the more portable line.
posted by exogenous at 9:20 AM on October 29, 2009

As long as you can get drivers, Win7 should be usable on just about anything remotely modern. I've got it running on an old Motion LS800 tablet and a Fujitsu U820 using their Vista drivers, which is some seriously underpowered hardware that technically doesn't even meet the Win 7 requirements in some areas. They're both fine as long as I turn Aero off.

Your options for existing Win 7 netbooks may be limited for the moment, but if you're comfortable installing and fiddling a bit, you can get it running on a very wide range of machines. Spring for something with a solid state drive if you have the option... it will help with all of your mentioned hot button issues.
posted by Pufferish at 9:32 AM on October 29, 2009

A battery's charge is greatly dependent upon use. Will you be surfing the web a lot? downloading/streaming items? Watching media/dvds? Constant access to email? The more the computer has to "think" the quicker the battery wears out. Not to mention batteries lose their charge as they age.

Just something to keep in mind.
posted by royalsong at 9:38 AM on October 29, 2009

Another consideration is that netbooks often have variable battery sizes, specified as number of cells. A 3-cell battery will usually be the nicest looking since it will be flush and not protrude. But a 6-cell battery is usually a better choice because it gives double the battery life.
posted by smackfu at 10:12 AM on October 29, 2009

I love love love my Acer Aspire One. I bought it specifically for travel because it fits in my purse, has a giant harddrive and the battery lasts for six hours. But I find I use it all the time at home, including to watch downloaded TV shows.
It does use XP though.

The only drawback is the keyboard is small and takes a little getting used to, but I find the upside far exceeds that one issue.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:30 AM on October 29, 2009

Lenovo x200. Runs Win 7 x64 like a pro. It is very light and very durable. I can get about 5 hours of battery life out of a 9 cell battery.
posted by Lord Force Crater at 10:33 AM on October 29, 2009

re: the first comment here, I wouldn't say Windows 7 is the latest and greatest. I just installed it on my computer, and if anything it's Vista with some of the bugs worked out. There seems to be enough third party support for all of my programs to work (and all the drivers on my 1 year old computer), so I wouldn't worry about that.

Thinkpads are pretty durable, I would look at those. They have really good keyboards, and the X series is really light.
posted by bluefly at 11:37 AM on October 29, 2009

Acer Aspire AS 1410 is your answer. 11.6" screen, full HD, full-size keyboard, Intel Core2 processor, 2GB RAM, 6 hour battery, 250GB Hard drive, comes with Vista and a free upgrade to Win7, weighs a smidge over 3 pounds.

Here's my review. It's selling for $399 at Amazon right now. Blows every other current Netbook out of the water for that price.
posted by syzygy at 12:21 PM on October 29, 2009

windows 7 is *awesome* -- muchmuchmuch better than vista, and i have been using it since the early public beta.

regarding netbooks running it, i have a dell mini9 with 2 gigs of ram that runs windows 7 perfectly.

if you look at netbooks, consider the samsung netbooks -- they are MUCH better than anything i have seen (father recently got one) including the toshiba, dell, acer, etc

+1 for windows 7, also realize that you can get it for 40$ as an upgrade through the "ultimate steal" program with microsoft (assuming you have a .edu address, of course)

i would look at the samsung netbooks if you go that direction (and they will cost you much less than 2 grand)
posted by knockoutking at 4:50 PM on October 29, 2009

I bought a Thinkpad this summer after posting here. It's perfect for my business travel and every time I use it I think it feels as if it will last forever.
posted by raisingsand at 6:12 PM on October 29, 2009

Get a Macbook. Install Win7. Enjoy the best computing experience ever.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:32 AM on October 30, 2009

Anything that isn't a ThinkPad or Macbook is poorly made, rickety garbage. Seriously.

Pick it up with one hand on each side and twist in opposite directions before you buy something. This will tell you all you need to know.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:34 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

(My Acer netbook actually passes the twist test too. It's too small a footprint relative to the thickness to really flex.)
posted by smackfu at 2:37 PM on October 30, 2009

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