If you’re going to use you laptop on the road – and why else get one – it’s a good idea to make WEIGHT a primary consideration. Especially if you’re going to carry it in your bag and on your back a lot, during conferences for instance.
However, you also have to think about what you want to do with your laptop. These days, with the iPad and other tablets around, I’m not sure I’d even be buying a laptop any more. However, if you are, you probably want to do more on your laptop than just watch videos and check email. After all, you can do all that on an iPad – in fact, it’s more comfortable on your iPad than on a laptop, as long as you don’t need to type much yourself.
Laptops are, I think, most useful these days for people who want it all – top of the line internet, top of the line speed, the ability to play DVDs etc. However, if you are going to select a LIGHT WEIGHT laptop, you’ll have to compromise on a few of those.
Don’t get me wrong: starting at 13 inch laptops, you can get a PC that’s level with today’s desktops in terms of speed, internal memory and hard drive capacity. Personally I use a 13 inch laptop as a desktop – including external screen, keyboard and mouse. These all include USB ad micro SD ports.
Chromebooks are built with the assumption that you won’t be offline much. The 16GB hard drive is quite enough for often used documents, assuming you don’t want a full on media laptop. The rest can go into Google Drive – available whenever you have a wifi connection.
With full access to Google Play Apps – (casual) games, other cloud options and office suite are available.
The Chromebook is often used in schools as the Google Docs system has all the basic Office options as well as great collaboration features.
Chromebooks start at 11 inch, but are also available in larger sizes.
The Windows operating system (8.*) works best with a touch screen. So if you’re glued to the Microsoft – and it is still the default buy for laptops and pcs – you should definitely consider a Windows touch screen laptop OR a Windows tablet with removable keyboard like the Asus Transformer series.
Touch Screen laptops are traditionally expensive, but their price has been going down. Do realize that when you buy a touch laptop under $1000 that you won’t be getting the fastest laptop on the block. In order to get at that price-point AND have a touchscreen, the manufacturer will have had to skimp on everything else.
Android tablets + keyboard
The only 12 inch laptops that Samsung sells these days are Chromebooks. However, since they are already listed here – I thought I would show you the other option from Samsung in the 12 inch range: it’s a tablet.
It’s the Samsung Note Pro.
- It runs Android on a top of the line system
- It has Wacom Style stylus and screen for pixel-precision drawing. This also makes legible handwriting possible – it will look as good as on paper.
- You can add a keyboard-to it through the case you choose, or simply external via bluetooth (which is the rational option in my opinion, as it means you only get to carry it when you need it)
It includes the ‘ Hancom Office’ app – aimed at integrating Windows Office files into Android. Unfortunately the result is as crappy as expected. However, Microsoft itself has created an app that does this (though depending how you bought your tablet, you may have to pay for Windows 365) the ‘Microsoft Office Mobile’ app for android.
Shown here is the Samsung Keyboard Case for Galaxy TabPro/NotePro 12.2
Like on the Chromebook, you won’t be able to edit all aspects of a Microsoft Office document. However, there ARE MS Office apps for Android, which allow editing MS Office documents if you have an Office 365 subscription. So for basic editing, an Android Tablet may be all you need. And since it’s a relatively light-weight solution, and great for e-reading and watching movies, it’s definitely something to consider.
If you another alternative is an external keyboard – if you don’t use the case-design, you can get a larger blue-tooth keyboard that isn’t limited by the size of your tablet (or iPad). You could even use it with your smartphone or iPhone.
Laptops That Are Easy On The Back
Paying attention to the weight of a laptop becomes important when you use it for work or school and you actually do transport it a lot. It may not make much difference if it is not something that you carry with you but just like the ability to use a laptop at home and be able to move around from room to room.
However, if your laptop is necessary to take to the office, a job site, college classroom, a business meeting or a multitude of other reasons; how much it weighs becomes an issue. Well, at least it should. With the technology of today there is no need to strain your back and shoulders from the weight of the computer.
Let’s take a look at the advantages of getting a lightweight laptop for you to use.
First Determine Your Needs
My recommendation before purchasing any of the lightweight laptops on the market today is to first determine what you need for your laptop to do. Obviously if you are choosing a laptop over a tablet you are needing to create documents, spreadsheets, graphs or other word processing actions that a tablet might not be able to do for you.
Many of the lighter weight laptops may not have an actual optical drive that will play a DVD or CD. They have the ability to be connected with a USB port if you have the need for one but much of the weight in the older models has been taken out by not building these players into the machine.
Personally, I don’t think that is much of an issue because you can get external ones to connect and with the popularity of streaming videos, if you want to watch a movie most of the time you can do that without inserting an actual DVD or CD. But, if this is something that you will need to use to perform well in your job or studies it is a consideration to think about.
Another option to think about is whether you want touch screen functionality or not. Most of the newer laptops are loaded with Windows 8 which will give you both a keyboard and touch features. You might decide that a refurbished or older model that has Windows 7 is suitable for the needs you will have with your laptop.
What size screen do you want? Those 15 inch and larger screens are great for a lot of things but the 13 or 14 inch ones weigh much less.
Pay attention to the keyboard design. Is it going to be comfortable to use? How about the touchpad will it be reliable to use?
For me, apart from the performance, the most important feature of a laptop is the size of the keyboard and these days thanks to the advances made in laptop design, if you want a small, extremely portable laptop, you don’t have to put up with a tiny keyboard.
Many of these laptops come with either a full-size or near full size keyboard, making them not only portable but easy to use.
Before you select your laptop, consider what you want to use it for. This will determine the type and speed of processor you will need as well as the size of the Hard Drive and RAM.
If you are constantly multi-tasking, surfing, perhaps number crunching or using applications that use a lot of images then you will need a minimum of 4GB of RAM. But most home users will proably be OK with 2 GB RAM. If you are not sure then check how easy it is to upgrade the RAM, just in case.
Sleek designs weigh less
The newer laptops have sleeker designs with cases that do not add bulk to the computer and extra weight for you to carry around. Companies have found materials to make the cases out of to help them in the weight department. Plus they look pretty good, too!
Styles that are almost as slim as a tablet these laptops offer function and style while weighing in at less than 4 pounds.
Who needs a lightweight laptop?
I mentioned this a little bit at the top of this article but let’s look into it a little further. Who are the best candidates for laptops that weigh on the lighter side? Actually, the short answer would be virtually anyone who wants one but that is obvious.
- Students (from elementary to college) for the mobility and funtionality
- Professionals who need to take their computing with them and need a good keyboard and touchpad to create documents and other work related items
- Professionals who travel a lot for their profession and need to have the portability and functionality of a computer instead of a tablet
- Busy Moms and Dads who can multi task as they take the kids from activity to activity.
The serious gamers are not usually fond of the lightweight laptops due to needing the better graphics and optical devices in order to play their games. Those laptops usually weigh more but the person who is really into games does not mind.
As a reader said on a previous version of this post:
Weight and size are definitely important considerations when choosing a laptop particularly if you are going to be lugging your laptop around with you. My son has a very good laptop chosen to support what he needs to be able to do as a computer engineering student. I know he was thinking about size when he was choosing but I am unsure how that factored into his final decision.