Working during a long flight is productive way to spend your time, and right up Sasha’s alley. She’s the director of an international non-profit that’s based in London, but she lives in Australia with her three-year-old. She recently wrote to us at firstname.lastname@example.org seeking advice on her next laptop purchase because her current Toshiba Portege R500 is about to die.
“I do a great deal of traveling for work. I mainly use Outlook, World, and Excel, in addition to Skype and online video conferencing tools. I value a full-size keyboard, and reasonably bright screen, but it doesn’t have to be big. I need the weight to be as light as possible with the features and reliability I need, such as long battery life as I am often on 12 hour flights. While I have never had back-lit keys before, I think this would be useful. One thing I really don’t like about my current laptop is the fact that the touchpad is way too sensitive, so I just turned it off and carry around a mouse. An international warranty would come in handy, as would an built-in webcam. I am not that price sensitive, as this is the most important tool I need for my work. What would you recommend?”
There are several good options for what Sasha needs. (Update: We’ve added another recommendation.)Since Sasha says she’s not that price sensitive,we think the Sony VAIO Z is a stellar choice. This 13-inch notebook (starting at $1,799) weighs only 3 pounds but packs in a Core i5 processor, twin SSDs, and a backlit keyboard, The touchpad works well, too, and you get a backlit keyboard. Wrapped in aluminum and magnesium, the VAIO Z is easily one of the best ultraportables ever made, but make sure you spring for the extended capacity battery for longer endurance.
Another good choice would be the Apple MacBook Air 11-inch. This ultraportable weighs a mere 2.3 pounds and features FaceTime for video chats and will work with Skype. It offers more than 5 hours of battery life, and has a very good keyboard and touchpad. But the keyboard is not backlit. Or if you like your Toshiba, you could go with the 3.2-pound Toshiba Portege R700 with its 6 hours of battery life and long three-year warranty. However, the touchpad will present the same problems you’ve experienced on the R500.
We also really like the Lenovo ThinkPad X201 with the extended battery. This 3.4-pound, workaholic has a sharp and colorful screen and a class-leading keyboard, and it lasts for 7 hours and 30 minutes on a charge. Plus, you may find you prefer the pointing stick over a touchpad.