It turns out that what I’m calling a lightweight laptop manufacturers call an ultrabook. The difference? Well, Intel came up with the brand name ‘Ultrabook’ as a way to describe light, fast and yet multi media ready laptops.
Laptops and notebooks can be as fast and as versatile as your desktop PC. In fact, I’m typing this on my own 13.3 Asus laptop at home. It’s got a screen, wireless mouse and wireless keyboard attached and there you go: everything I might need.
When I bought mine, I went for a 13.3 inch laptop because I felt that at that size typing was still comfortable. I was right: it is. Anything smaller and typing with ten fingers becomes cramped, at least for my hands.
When buying a light weight laptop you’ll have to take the following into account:
- You don’t need a built in DVD player: you can buy one that goes into your USB port. That way you won’t have to carry it around with you
- Windows 10, Chrome or Mac?
In the past I would just have recommended the latest Windows offering. These days I’m not so sure. Since many people use tablets for the simple stuff (like mail) you really need to check what you use your laptop FOR. If it’s just for a bit of mailing, working on the grid and going online, you should really consider a Chrome laptop. It has all the options you need, except the ability to use external programs. However, there are few things you really can’t do on Chrome. Similarly: the only reason NOT to pick a Mac is price and the incompatibility with Windows. Still, you can edit office programs on all three systems mentioned. Do you really still need a Windows PC?
- Battery time: If you’re on the road a lot, you’ll want a battery time of at least 5 hours. My laptop is advertised as having 6 hours battery time. These days you can do better than that. In practice battery time goes down whatever you do, so buy more than you expect to use. Samsung tells me their battery technology is built to last longer. I do hope so, though in practice I wasn’t using my laptop away from electricity much anyhow.
- Size of the keypad, for if you want to be able to type ten fingered. Personally I think you better choose one that’s at least 13 inch.
- Having experienced multitouch, I would now settle for nothing less. This helps with scrolling, and using the Windows 10 controlls. This ultrabook has the multitouch sunk into the frame just a bit: this diminishes the chance of accidentally doing things while you’re typing.
- Screen, mouse and keyboard: you can simply use a larger one of each for home use. You will have to check whether they fit the ports available. I had already bought a wireless (through USB) mouse plus keyboard for my previous laptop and they work on this one as well. As for the screen: HDMI is perfect.
- Do consider that HD size is not everything, because there are 128GB memory cards available. So instead of going for the largest size HD you think you might need, you could choose a laptop with less HD and the right memory card-slot.
Lighter is better.
And, on the go, it’s light enough to not bother my back too much. Sure, it took some getting used to. A lightweight laptop usually still weighs something like three pounds. You would not want to carry three pounds of sugar with you for no reason would you? Remember that joke? What’s lighter, three pounds of feathers or three pounds of lead? Neither – they’re both three pounds.
Think about that when you’re buying your laptop.
If you are going to buy a laptop, you don’t want to think about the weight only. You also need to think about battery life. Personally I’m very happy to have bought one that came with 12 hours of battery life. Of course it’s less in practice, especially when I am online when using it, or attached to a screen. Still, 12 hours gives you room to maneuver. In fact, those two aspects are probably the most important when you’re buying your laptop.
However, there are a few other considerations.
The newest and best laptops come with dual or even quad core. That is: they’re capable of doing two or even 4 things at the same time. That’s the way processors are made faster today: not by speed (in Hz), but by how much they can do at the same time. The upcoming generation will have more specialization: one part of the chip devoted solely for speeding up the way images are dealt with for instance – should be great for video.
Internal memory is also an issue. Right now 4GB is good enough for most uses (not if you’re gaming of course). More will hardly be used by your laptop anyhow, as the software isn’t equipped to deal with it yet.
When you’re buying your laptop, it will probably come with Windows 7. Mine came with Windows 7 64 bits, despite the shop boy telling me it would come with 32 bit. However, the software of both was included, which is good: some of the older hardware won’t work with 64 bits. However, if you can get everything you need to work, 64 bit will be faster.
If you can afford it, choosing an Mac should be considered. Compatibility issues seem to be a thing of the past, so you’re left with their superior ease of use.
Lightweight Apple Laptops are the Macbook Air laptops. They don’t just look great, they’re also lighter than most other small laptops out there. Their 11 and 13 inch laptops both weigh less than 3 pounds.
Chromebook – best selling low end lightweight laptop
Honestly, the Chromebook would never do for me. I need a laptop I can install software on – a text-editing program, a picture editing program with advanced features and of course MS Office.
However, for many people Chrome is enough. Through Google Drive it offers all the basic office functionality you are likely to need: spreadsheet (yes, an Excel alternative), simple writing (aka an MS Word alternative) and of course an internet browser through which you will access your email online.
In fact: everything works through your internet browser on Chrome. Early version didn’t even have an option for local storage, but thankfully that has changed. Chrome is now the favorite PC option for libraries and schools: updating automatically, the system is safe from viruses and hack attempts. Since all information is in the cloud, these laptops are interchangeable.
And online you really CAN edit images and even raw text files. It’s just that for me you can’t go quite far enough. But if all you ever do with images is to cut off a border or two and perhaps change the lighting a bit, online editing really is good enough.