Working online has huge benefits like working wherever and whenever you want. These benefits allow me to travel around the world for the next 12 months. The only downside of working online is that you always need to have a good internet connection and a computer.
Unfortunately I can’t do much about the internet connection in the countries we want to go to but choose the hotels carefully. Concerning the computer there are vast differences and fortunately – thanks to the people from Intel and their great netbook CPUs – I am am in complete control of what computer I will have available on my trip.
Netbook or Notebook?
I really needed an upgrade to my 3 year old laptop for this trip. Although the old computer still worked fine for most of the stuff I usually have to do, the weight (2.8 kg) and low the battery endurance (only 2-4 hours) led to my decision to buy a new laptop or netbook.
The usual online marketing tasks do not require a lot of CPU and graphics performance. However if you also want to use software like Adobe Indesign or Photoshop (which my wife uses almost daily), you might want to choose a computer with more performance than the little Intel Atom CPUs.
It used to be easy to measure the performance of CPUs just by looking at their clock rate. These days are long gone. Nowadays there are hundreds of different CPUs and for amateurs it is quite difficult to get find the perfect fit for one’s needs. You can use cpubenchmark.net to compare the different CPUs.
Weight & Size
The usual screen size for laptops is 15-17 inches. Although this makes working easier than with the small 10-12 inch screen of netbooks, the average weight of a 15 inch laptop is more than 2kg. Sometimes even as heavy as 2.5 kg. Since we are looking for a computer for the use during our travels, we want the lightest computer possible. Everything over 2 kg is to much for my taste.
Since I will have to work at least 10-15 hours per week on my laptop I also don’t want to have a screen smaller than 11 inches. I tried it and I figured that this would be though on my eyes.
Another disadvantage of the smaller netbooks is the limited performance. I couldn’t find a single netbook that fulfilled my performance requirements.
In countries like Thailand or the Philippines you don’t always have internet in your hotel room and have to go either the lobby or a restaurant to get a good internet connection. That means I need to have enough battery power to work for a few hours before I have to get back to my hotel room to recharge.
I figured that my magic number is 4 hours of battery power.
Unfortunately there is a strong correlation between weight, display size and performance and the endurance of the battery. Basically that means the bigger the display and the higher the performance is the higher weight of the computer or the shorter the endurance of the battery.
Of course the price is a factor that helps to break up that correlation. You can get more power, less weight and larger display size all in one laptop if you are willing to pay a little (or a lot) more. When backpacking you need to consider that there is always the chance that your computer might break or get stolen, so you should think twice before spending a fortune.
The ultimate combination of performance, weight, size and battery is shown in the Macbook Air series from apple. Naturally that comes with a price of at least 950€, which is too much for my purposes.
After countless hours on Google, Amazon and different laptop review sites, I decided to buy the Acer Aspire TimelineX 3820TZG, which is considered to be subnotebook with a comfortable 13,3 inch screen, from Amazon Warehouse Deals. The Acer usually goes for more than 630€, but at Warehouse Deals I found it for only 430€.
For those of you that don’t know what Amazon Warehouse Deals is, it is Amazons way of selling the products someone bought and returned within the 30 days for what reason whatsoever. The products have all been tested and come with a two year warranty (at least in Germany).
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 3820TZG has a strong CPU and 4 GB RAM combined with a pretty decent graphics board. It only weights 1.8 kg and the battery last up to 8 hours!
Obviously I will test it during the next 12 months and keep you informed if that really was a good choice.