My recent trip to the Caribbean was filled with lots of fun activities, including hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing. It wasn’t all just about fun in the sun however, as the trip was hosted by Microsoft, who assembled a group of travel writers to give us the scoop on some fantastic tools and laptops that could be of benefit for travelers of all types.
Some of those tools included cloud storage service Skydrive, which is a great way to share video and photos from your trip, and Movie Maker and Windows Live Photo Gallery which help to edit them into masterpieces that your friends and family will actually want to look at.
But the real treat was getting to play with some hot new laptops that have a lot to offer travelers who want to stay connected while on the go. For the past few years, Apple’s MacBook Air has been the undisputed king of travel computes, but now Windows users have some really good options as well. Here are five of them to consider when it comes time to upgrade your technology.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
This is a laptop designed for adventure travelers. The ThinkPad X1 is a ruggedized PC that can withstand plenty of punishment and even features a water resistant keyboard. You can, quite literally, pour a bucket of water over the machine, and it will continue to run just fine. Sure, ruggedized PC’s have been around for while, the Panasonic ToughBook is a well known example, but the X1 weighs in at just 3.7 pounds and is less than an inch thick. It features USB 3.0, which is perfect charging gadgets on the go, a 160GB solid state drive, and a battery that lasts nearly 6 hours on a single charge. Lenovo has built a rugged computer that can go just about anywhere and survive the rigors of the road.
Take this one with you to Everest Base Camp. (MSRP: $1773)
Asus Zenbook UX21
For travelers who like to travel light, the new Zenbook from Asus is the perfect option. This laptop features an 11 inch screen and weighs only 2.4 pounds. It’s also super-thin, just 3mm in the front and 9mm at its thickest point in the back. Battery life is a respectable 5 hours and the Intel Core i7 processor provides plenty of power for all your mobile needs. Slip this one into your carryon bag, and you’ll barely know its there. The Zenbooks stylish good looks will likely turn heads as well.
Take this one with you on a month long trip through Europe (MSRP: $999)
Sony Vaio Z
The SonyVaio Z is the workhorse of this group, providing mobile workstation power in a thin and light body. The Vaio Z is just 2.5 pounds and .7 inches thick, which is remarkable for a machine that has the ability to drive three external monitors at once. This machine is truly designed for the business traveler, as it features a 7 hour battery life out of the box and gives you have the option to add a sheet battery that extends that life to an amazing 16 hours, without adding much in the way of bulk. That means, you can hop a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, use your laptop the entire way, and never have to worry about a recharge. Designed for to handle everything from e-mail and games to heavy duty video editing, this is a great option for when you absolutely need to get work done while you travel.
Take this one with you on a flight across the Pacific. The rest of the cabin will be jealous when their machines run out of juice before the halfway point. (MSRP: $1999)
Toshiba Portege R830
Another light and thin, yet durable option, Toshiba has built the Portege R830 to be both powerful and affordable. With a magnesium case and a specially designed shock-resistant system, this laptop is built to withstand the abuse that comes along with travel. Slightly heavier and thicker than other machines on this list, the Portege is unique in that it still includes a DVD drive, something that is becoming increasingly rare in our cloud-based, streaming media world. Battery life is a strength as well, keeping you up and running for eight hours, while powering the LED-backlit screen and surround sound.
Take this one with you when you have kids to entertain. The DVD drive will come in handy and the machine can handle the abuse from kids too! (MSRP: $799)
Samsung Series 9 – Special Edition
Built from Duralumin, the same material as some modern aircraft, the Samsung Series 9 is both rugged and beautiful. The metal casing protects the laptop nicely, while keeping it thin and light at the same time. The Series 9 is just .6 inches thin and tips the scale at a shade under 3 pounds. It still packs plenty of technology however, including a 13.3 inch backlit LED LCD screen, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, a 7 hour battery life, and an illuminated keyboard. Throw in premium sound and a 128GB SSID drive, and you have a laptop that would make James Bond jealous.
Take this one with you everywhere! (MSRP: $1649)