What's the Best Laptop For Your Round-The-World Trip?



Thinking of buying a laptop for your round-the-world trip? While most travellers can get by with just a smartphone or tablet, many still want a decent keyboard, larger screen and plenty of computing power on tap. Handheld gadgets are catching up fast, but especially for those who work from the road, notebooks and laptop/tablet hybrids remain firmly on the packing list. Here's what to look out for in 2015.


Apple Macbook Air


If you're an Apple fan, the decision is easy. The Macbook Air is a thin, lightweight, durable and attractive laptop, with enough speed and storage options to keep all but the most demanding users happy. While the 11” base model is very limited, spending an extra couple of hundred pounds yields major benefits. For £979 you'll get 8GB of memory for a faster, more useful machine, and a 256GB drive so you won't run out of space for photos before the end of your trip.


The Air is backed with good support, especially if you're travelling in one of the 16 countries with physical Apple stores where it can be dropped in for repair. If you'll be on the road after the initial twelve month warranty runs out, it's worth paying extra for Apple Care to extend it for another two years.


Dell XPS 13


Dell released an updated version of the XPS 13 in January, and it's one of the best travel laptops out there. The company has managed to squeeze a 13” screen into an 11” body, so it's easy to fit in a small daypack. It weighs 2.8lbs, and unusually for Dell, the base model is actually worth buying. For £1099 you'll pick up a machine with a speedy i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB drive, up to 12 hours of battery life and a super high-resolution touch screen.


Like the Air, the XPS 13 is extremely thin, but making the body from aluminum and carbon fibre means it's still durable enough to handle the inevitable knocks. The laptop comes with a 12 month next business day warranty, which can be upgraded up to an extra three years. For under fifty pounds you can also get accidental damage cover for liquid spills, drops and power surges – all of which are depressingly likely on the road.


Microsoft Surface Pro


Hybrid laptop/tablets are becoming increasingly popular, letting you have a full keyboard when you need it and a touch-screen entertainment device when you don't. There are dozens of hybrids out there, but one of the best is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.


It comes with a high-resolution 12” touch screen (including a stylus), and has the power to run Windows 8 and almost any app without skipping a beat. It's a remarkably light 1.8lbs, although the fancy clip-on cover that includes an integrated keyboard for doing real work does add a bit of extra weight.


The Surface Pro doesn't come cheap, unfortunately – for a comparable specification to the Air or XPS 13, including the Smart Cover, you're looking at £1219. Still, if you can bag a special offer, this is a great device to travel with.


Asus Chi T100 

If you like the idea of a hybrid Windows laptop/tablet, but can't justify spending £1000+ on it, check out the Asus Transformer Book range instead. While they aren't really designed for handling high-end tasks, writing documents, editing photos and browsing the web aren't a problem, and you'll pay a lot less for them.


Asus has just announced updates across the range, and although the release date hasn't been announced yet, the T100 Chi looks like the one to beat for travellers. It will come with 2GB of RAM, a 1920x1200 screen and up to 128GB of storage, is just over 7mm thick and includes a  detachable keyboard. By itself it weighs less than 1.3lbs – the keyboard adds an extra pound or so.


The best part? If the US pricing is anything to go by, the starting price should only be around £300 when it hits UK shelves.

Did I miss any? What's your choice of travel laptop?


by Dave Dean