Laptops are loyal companions of digital nomads and they rarely leave their master’s side. The tricky thing is that they come in all shapes and sizes, with varying features and price tags. Therefore, picking the right one is seldom simple.
Yes, you probably seek a reliable workhorse that is highly portable, one that will let you do serious work at home and outside of it. But, beyond that, you must take into account your specific needs, preferences, and other factors. So, take a deep breath rather than rushing a purchase. This guide should allow you to at least narrow down your options.
A suitable operating system
When it comes to the main software platform, you have three basic options to ponder: Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS. Windows is teeming with features, more flexible than the other two, and comes with a plethora of builds and models.
MacOS is found on all Apple products and offers a distinctive, sleek UX. More importantly, it features a seamless integration with the Apple software and hardware ecosystem. Finally, Chrome OS powers Chromebooks. It is user-friendly and secure, albeit lacking the versatility of Windows.
Ergonomic keyboard and touchpad
Like it or not, typing is a real bread and butter of digital nomad life. That is to say that you should stick to products with exceptional ergonomics.
In other words, make sure the keyboard offers solid tactile feedback and vertical travel. Ideally, there is also enough space between the keys. A touchpad is not to be overlooked either—it is supposed to be accurate and highly responsive, facilitating those multi-touch gestures.
Assess your needs
It is of the utmost importance to carefully assess your personal needs. For example, in case you also want to use your laptop for leisure time and run power-hungry video games, you need something more versatile. Consider a sturdy gaming laptop with an Intel i7 and a dedicated instead of an integrated graphics card.
A great graphics chip will not only support high-end gaming but also work miracles if you create 3D objects or edit high-quality videos in your line of work. It will enable your laptop to actually do double duty and the only catch is that you must pay a bit more for such a well-rounded beast.
Consult your finances
This brings us to the next point—budget. You always get what you pay for and for the most part, your money goes to the processor, hard drive, graphics chip, and RAM. It is possible to find a somewhat usable laptop for around $200, which does not mean you should.
Namely, those who are prepared to pay $600 and more can score a reliable combo of 8GB of RAM, Core i5 CPU, dedicated graphics, and SSD storage. For this price tag, you also get a premium design and build. Bear in mind, though, that biting off more than you can chew can push you into debt and financial woes.
Keep an eye on weight and size
High portability is always desirable outside home settings. Hence, it may be wise to opt for a smaller, lightweight solution. Here, one of the most important specs is display size. For instance, 11 and 12-inch laptops weight between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds, while 15-inch models weigh more than 5 pounds.
Largest laptops (17-18 inches) are even heavier and a hassle to carry with you. Then again, they provide amazing workstation-level productivity. Note that you can also find a balanced solution like Ultrabook, which blends portability and processing prowess.
Check out the battery life
In all likelihood, you are not going to always use your laptop on the desk and near a power outlet. So, pay close attention to battery life. Running out of juice when you need to meet a deadline is really painful. 6 hours should do the trick, although anything around 8 hours is even better.
It ensures you are able to tackle all your tasks on the go. Just do not take manufacturer’s word for how long the battery lasts. Sift through trustworthy, third-party reviews to properly gauge this aspect.
As you have seen, the prices and specs of modern laptops vary wildly. This wide range of choice implies you need to take your time shopping around and comparing specs. Do your homework diligently and inspect key components before preoccupying yourself with bells and whistles.
Weighing the pros and cons of different options and remember that it all depends on the intended use, your budget, and personal preferences. Try to get the best value for your money, a balance between portability and usability.