Oh, how times have changed. Around ten years ago, I would never have thought that if there’s one piece of equipment I will always carry with me on my travels would be – a laptop. Seriously, there’s so much for us travelers and travel photographers where it comes in handy. Connect with your hotel’s WiFi (ever thought about how many hotels actually do have free WiFi compared to five years ago?) and you’re ready to go: book rental cars, hotels, flights, or skype with your friends. For us photographers it surely is even more important to have the best travel laptop with us. If you come back after a full day of photographing the world’s miracles, the first thing you should do is backup your photographs! I’ve made it a habit of mine to always hook up the camera with the laptop first, copy all the files, put another backup on my USB drive and then head for food. To sum it up – if there’s piece of gear you should not go the cheap way, it’s your laptop. This is why I want to recommend you the best travel laptop out there!
What does the best travel laptop need?
The best travel laptop is not just a normal laptop. Remember, you will travel the world with it and carry it around in your travel backpack while at the airport, the jungle, the bus and so on. This is why the best travel laptop needs these key features:
As travel photographers, we need to be able to handle big .RAW images pretty quickly, or add watermarks in a batch process that does not take ages. Therefore we need a laptop with enough speed, battery life, all necessary input jacks and an excellent display.
As said, we might end up sleeping in an airport hall with our backpack (and our laptop in it) as a pillow. We could also walk through the jungle for a whole day for the perfect shot. The best travel laptop needs to withstand all of that.
We’re traveling around the world and can’t carry around a heavy computer in our backpack. The best travel laptop needs to be as lightweight as possible, and its dimensions should be the ideal mix between screen size and portability.
Here they are: the Best Travel Laptops
Rank 5: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is a great, small travel laptop with awesome features. It is very thin and lightweight, which is perfect for travel purposes. Additionally, it has a very sturdy metal casing and a great build quality. All these features score lots of points when it comes to durability. The best part though lies in the display: the 13.3″ Quad HD+ display offers a stunning resolution of 3.200 x 1.800 pixels – perfect for photographers! With the Intel Core i5 processor you will have enough processing power for every task you will need to fulfill on the road. All in all, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus can be considered the one of, if not the best travel laptop available on the market!
Key Features: Intel i5 1.6 GHz, 128GB SSD, Quad HD+ Display
Weight: 3.1 Pounds
Rank 4: Dell XPS 13
Dell has always been known as a laptop manufacturer famous for durable computers. The XPS 13 is no exception: this laptop is a very thin ultrabook that feels “premium” all the time. Although the screen does not give you the ultra-high resolution as the Samsung above, the speed of the laptop makes up for it (it just boots extremely fast!). Additionally, the keyboard is exceptionally good on this one. If you’re a travel blogger or a journalist with lots of things to write down while on your travels, the Dell is the best travel laptop for you. You can just get it out of your bag, boot it up in seconds and start working!
Key Features: Intel i5 1.6 GHz, 128GB SSD, quick boot mode, very thin
Weight: 2.5 Pounds
Rank 3: Samsung Series 9
The second Samsung laptop in this guide is not the most inexpensive one here, but a great value nonetheless! If you need to work with big files or photos, you will benefit from the i7 processor. It is way faster than the i5 of the laptops above. As this processor generation is low-voltage, its battery lasts for up to 9 hours – great if you’re on the road without a power outlet. At only 2.56 pounds, it is also very lightweight. The polished aluminum design is sturdy and good-looking at the same time. If you need something very fast, which is extremely lightweight at the same time, the Samsung Series 9 is the best travel laptop for you!
Key Features: Intel i7 1.9 GHz, 128GB SSD, Superbrite Display, full line of ports
Weight: 2.6 Pounds
Rank 2: Sony Vaio Pro 13
If you’re looking for an even lighter laptop, the Sony Vaio Pro 13 might be the best travel laptop for you! At only 2.34 pounds, this one is very good to travel the world with. Parts of it are made of carbon fiber, which shows you the build quality of this one. It has also the Intel i5 processor which should be sufficient for “normal” use. The display of the Sony Vaio Pro 13 has very bright colors, which is great for photographers. It might not be the most durable laptop out there, but features like the touch screen functionality clearly make up for that. Another nice feature: you can charge your phone with the USB port, even when the laptop is turned off!
Key Features: Intel i5 1.6 GHz, 128GB SSD, lightest laptop, great display
Weight: 2.34 Pounds
Rank 1: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon is the best travel laptop in my opinion. Okay, I’m a little bit biased here, because I worked with this one a lot. Lenovo always used to have very durable laptops that work under every condition. Although it might not be the most beautiful laptop, it is made to last. The most important thing though: the Lenovo has the best features of all laptops presented here. It has an Intel i7 processor with 2.0 GHz, and a large SSD hard drive with 240 gigabytes. The i7 is also responsible for the long battery life on this one. If you’re looking for a laptop that has the best features for a professional (and if you can spare the dime), the Lenovo X1 Carbon is the best travel laptop for you!
Key Features: Intel i7 2 GHz, 240GB SSD, fast, battery life, durability
Weight: 3.4 pounds