For most digital nomads, the laptop is everything. It is a money-making machine, a way to build a business, find clients, and submit work without being tied to any one particular location. On average, eight and a half hours a day is spent looking at screens, but this includes people who don’t need the tech to earn a living. If your laptop is a constant companion, traveling the globe with you and being used on a daily basis as an income generator, then you had better make sure that you have the perfect device. You already have the right backpack with a cleverly designed laptop compartment, but now you need to decide what to put in it.
For digital nomads more than anyone, battery life and weight are hugely important considerations. You will likely also want something that is fast and powerful to increase productivity, while also being reasonably priced if you are on a low income or fearful of theft. With that in mind, here are some of the best laptops that digital nomads can buy in 2019.
Microsoft Surface Go for the Ultimate in Low Weight
At just 1.7 pounds, the Microsoft Surface Go is about the lightest laptop on the market today. It is essentially a tablet, but with a full-sized type cover attachment and the computing power of any regular-sized laptop. Packing Windows 10, will be a good choice for anyone familiar with Microsoft’s operating system. The pen and touch screens are perfect for more creative design work.
However, the low weight comes with compromises. There is only a USB-C port, with no standard USB port or CD drive. The Surface Go also uses a Pentium processor rather than the newer Core i3, i5, or i7. This keeps costs down and is fine for web browsing and word processing, but consider upgrading to the Microsoft Surface Pro if processing power matters to you. The limited performance will give you an impressive 9 hours of battery life, however. Bear in mind also that the pen and type cover are sold separately, making this laptop more expensive than it might appear at first.
Lenovo Ideapad 300 for Nomads on a Budget
Let’s face it, not all digital nomads are rolling in money. Although investing in a great laptop can be good for your business, not everyone has the money to do this, especially if you are just starting out. Furthermore, being on the road full time puts your possessions at risk of loss, theft, or damage. For this reason, a budget option might be preferred.
The Lenovo Ideapad 300 can be bought new for a little over $300 and offers the best bang for your buck. The battery life of 9.5 hours means it just edges the Microsoft Surface Go at a fraction of the cost and comes with the same Intel Pentium processor when purchasing the basic model. The larger 15.6-inch screen may be more burdensome to carry and add weight, which comes out as a comparatively huge 4.8 pounds, but some remote workers prefer this larger screen. Furthermore, the laptop is built with an “eye-care” mode to prevent strain and damage to your eyes, as well as two handy USB ports, a USB-C port, and a DVD drive.
MacBook Air for All Round Performance
Go to any coffee shop and you will see a swarm of Apple MacBooks being used by students and digital nomads. There is a good reason for this, with the MacBook offering reliability for many years. You know what you’re getting with Apple and it’s usually pretty impressive.
The MacBook Air is the lightweight version, which is perfect for traveling. At 2.8 pounds, it is slightly heavier than the Microsoft Surface Go, but for this, you get a much more powerful Intel Core i5 processor. You also get up to 12 hours of battery life, which is perfect when working in a place with a distinct lack of power outlets. The MacBook, although the best all-round laptop for digital nomads, is likely to be one of the most expensive, so it is up to you to decide whether it is worth the investment.
Dell XPS 13 if Battery Life is Everything
The new Dell XPS is stealing the thunder of the MacBook Air, by offering what is described as the most powerful 13-inch laptop on the market. While many laptops have a screen size of 15 or 17 inches, 13 is about right if you are on the move with a single backpack and trying to limit weight, while having something big enough to work on. With 8th generation Intel Core i7, you won’t be left wanting for speed and processing power.
At 2.7 pounds, this is about the same weight as the MacBook Air, but its trump card comes from its extraordinary battery life. Quoted as 21 hours, this blows all other laptops out of the water. Do note that this battery life is for the 1080p model, however, with 4K screen lasting just 11 hours. Either way, you can easily get a full day’s worth of work done without needing to plug your laptop in, making it the perfect travel companion for long haul flights. Naturally, this level of performance and battery life comes at a price, so expect to spend in the region of $1500 for the cheapest version of the Dell XPS 13.
Choosing the right laptop as a digital nomad is essential. Deciding on something which is lightweight, fast, and with a long battery life will ensure you can be as productive as possible. It should feel nice to use and never leave you feeling frustrated. If you want a powerful machine with the least amount of weight, the Microsoft Surface Go has you covered. If you are on a budget, however, the Lenovo Ideapad will get the job done. For all-round reliability, go for the MacBook Air, while the Dell XPS 13 is the ultimate digital nomad laptop if you have the money to invest. Whatever you choose, feel confident that you have the right tool for your business.