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If you’re eager to find a laptop that’s ideal for remote working, these are some of the best ultraportable laptops that strike a fine balance between function and style.
Ultraportable laptops are breathtakingly lightweight, making them a perfect machine of choice for the modern-day remote worker.
And while the laptop is super lean, that does not mean the specs are too. Whether you’re a journalist or a video game designer, there’s an ultraportable laptop out there to suit your needs.
So let’s take a closer look at some of the best ultraportable laptops on the market that money can buy.
Best Ultraportable Laptops for Travel
No time to read through? No problem! I’m sure our quick picks can point you in the right direction:
|Is this for you?||Our Pick|
|Best Premium Laptop||Dell XPS 13|
|Best Budget Laptop||HP Pavillion|
|Best Apple Laptop||MacBook Air M2|
|Best Tablet||Microsoft Surface Pro 9|
Ultraportable Laptop Introduction
Working remotely: the freedom it gives you is life-changing. But that’s not to say it doesn’t come with its challenges.
At the office, all we have to do is step through the doors and plant ourselves down in our ergonomically-friendly office chair, turn on our large, high-res LCD monitor(s), and away we go.
Our workstation has been designed, paid for, and implemented by someone else.
That is something many of us take for granted until the ball is in our court. Now, you’re going to be working out of coffee shops, coworking spaces, and hotel rooms.
That is going to require your very own setup, and one, if not the most key component, of this is your laptop.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. And today, there’s never been a better time to shop for ultraportable laptops and ultrabooks. These machines are lighter, thinner, and more powerful than they have ever been before.
All you have to do is decide which of these powerful, paper-thin books of connectivity and productivity is going to accompany you around the globe.
Very simply, before you start looking, you should ask yourself one simple question: ‘what am I going to need my laptop for?’
If you work remotely but have set office hours, maybe a slightly larger screen would be beneficial.
If you only need your laptop to answer emails and organize documents, you probably won’t need powerful graphics and greater memory.
If you plan to work with video; on the contrary, you’ll need a device that can handle large files and software that uses a lot of RAM.
If you connect a lot of USB devices, USB-C is going to be a nightmare for you, and so on.
Understanding your needs is critical to finding a laptop that works best for you.
So be sure to write down your top priorities for what it needs to do, and then you’ll be able to make a more informed decision, particularly if you’re shopping within a budget.
No one likes to be a doom-monger, but when it comes to your laptop, you should never take any chances.
A laptop is a huge investment of money, and out on the road, no matter how small the likelihood, anything could happen to it.
By default, a travel insurance policy will cover loss and damage to your belongings up to a certain amount.
Be sure that amount, at the very least, covers the amount you paid for your laptop (but also be aware of the depreciation value, over time, of your laptop).
Also, some insurance policies have add-ons for laptops and expensive items, specifically. So be sure to explore your options rather than just taking out a standard backpacker policy.
Head on over to our insurance guide to learn more.
At a retreat I worked for in 2016, one of the members, a co-founder, no-less, lost all power to his aging laptop.
We were in Bali, and finding someone to repair it was very difficult. In the end, he had to fly to Jakarta and buy a brand-new MacBook. The whole situation, from start to finish, cost him an entire seven days of work.
Having a backup plan should be something you seriously consider. Bringing an old laptop, well-padded and protected, in your luggage, is something I’ve seen several digital nomads do.
Others have set up email, calls, and other software, on their tablets or smartphones so that they have other devices to rely upon.
Scoping out repair shops or the nearest place to purchase new gear, you should also be clued upon.
For many nomads, without the comfort of expensive office chairs, 40” screens, and a desk laid out to your preference, a laptop alone is not enough for comfort and productivity.
Working hunched over your laptop on a hotel bed, in the long run, isn’t going to be sustainable or good for your health.
There is a spectrum of products on the market today, all lightweight and portable, that are easily assembled into a comfortable, productive workspace.
Keyboards, laptop stands, anti-RSI mice, seat cushions: head on over to our gear page to find out more about our top picks.
Understanding the Jargon
For some of us, looking at computer specs brings with it all the joy of listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
For others of us, it’s like being in the Matrix before Morphius has realized we’re ‘beginning to believe.’
If you are keen to learn more about the numbers and brands behind the screen and silver, I’ve prepared for you a very simple guide to commonly used terms and what, in layman’s terms, they’re referring to.
Simply, the program that manages all your laptop’s functions, software, and tasks. You’ll definitely know two: Windows and Mac OS. There are others, and in this day and age, they’re all competent and user-friendly.
My advice: go with what you know. If you’re used to Windows, switching to OS can take time to get used to, and vice versa.
The processor is the brain of your computer, doing all the tasks you ask of it. You’ll see its speed measured in GHz.
For ultrabooks and ultraportable laptops, 1.6GHz upwards will be enough. If you’re using video editing or graphics-based software, I’d recommend at least 2GHz.
The physical size of your screen is measured from corner to corner, and 13-14 inches will be standard.
For ultraportable laptops, you’ll sacrifice screen size for weight and physical size. Laptops with displays of 15” and above will be larger, and ultimately heavier.
The number of pixels that make up your screen’s display. The more pixels (width x height), the crisper the display.
As a rule of thumb, 1920×1080 (this is widescreen HD format) is currently standard. Anything more is a bonus, and not required if you’re not working with graphics or video.
HDD or SSD Size
This refers to the amount of storage space on your laptop to store applications, software, videos, files; anything. You’ll often see HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive).
In ultraportable laptops, it’s far more likely you’ll have SSD. This is because SSD is much faster and, physically, smaller. HDD is slower but has much more storage.
It’s measured in GB, and at this level, you’ll see either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. 128GB will be enough if you don’t store heavy video/graphics files directly on your laptop or have a lot of software installed.
Alternatively, it can also be worth putting the bulk of your files in cloud storage or getting an external hard drive to travel with.
Noticed how your computer slows down the more things you have open? This is down to your RAM, which controls the number of functions your laptop can do at the same time.
An ultraportable laptop level, aim for 8GB. More will be a bonus, but not essential, unless you’re handling large video and graphics files.
You’ll notice some laptops will have a graphics card, followed by a string of numbers and letters, in the specs.
Only take notice of this if you play a lot of games or work extensively with large video and image files. The laptop’s standard graphics card is more than enough for simple tasks and streaming services.
Be sure to check what ports (and how many, usually 1-2) you have to connect devices.
Most laptops will have just USB or USB and Bluetooth. However, the new MacBooks now use USB-C (urgh, I know, too many letters, right!) So if all your devices connect via USB, you’d need to get a USB to USB-C adapter.
As long as you have at least one port to connect a USB device, you’ll be fine.
Best Ultraportable Laptop Picks
If you’re clued up and know what you’re looking for, then feel free to delve into our top picks. Oh, and please note: this is not a ranked list. Each laptop, naturally, has its pros and will suit different needs and preferences.
Best Premium Laptop
1 – Dell XPS 13 9310Check Price on Amazon
With astonishing specs for its incredibly lightweight and compact size, the Dell XPS series continues to be one of the world’s most respected and sought-after ultrabooks.
If you have a considerable budget to work with and want a laptop with memory, processing power, and features for more than simply checking email and browsing, take a closer look at the XPS 13 9310.
Best Budget Laptop
2 – HP PavillionCheck Price on Amazon
The HP Pavillion series has been dependable for a number of years and is a great choice if you’re shopping on a budget and don’t need very high specs to do specialized work.
While the newest range does have a 14” version, we’ve opted for the 15.6” version, which, while a little bigger, just gives you a little more power.
Best Apple Laptop
3 – MacBook Air M2Check Price on Amazon
The latest version of the Macbook’s Air range gives you some mightly impressive specs for a laptop of its size while also giving you a breathtakingly lightweight and compact laptop to travel with.
Nowadays, the Macbook range itself is a very lightweight series of laptop, so if you do want a larger machine beyond the 13.6” Air M2 and have a bigger budget, you can still move up without too much weight increase.
4 – Microsoft Surface Pro 9Check Price on Amazon
Microsoft Surface continues to be one of the go-to series when it comes to tablet and laptop hybrids, and the Pro 9 delivers a beautiful display, powerful specs for its size, and both touchscreen and stylus control.
Best Ultraportable Laptops for Travel Summary
Ultraportable laptops are an excellent piece of gear for anyone looking to travel or work remotely, without having to carry a bulky, heavy laptop.
Despite their size, their specs are mighty impressive. And from tablets for casual browsing, to laptops with intense specs for gaming, there’s an ultraportable laptop on this list to suit everyone’s needs.
Thanks for reading, and whatever choice of laptop you decide to go with, we at Nomad Paradise wish you happy shopping!
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Author: Dale Johnson is a content writer, creator, and strategist, who has been a full time digital nomad since 2016. He is deeply passionate about travel gear and tech, and is constantly investing in his own nomadic setup to optimize efficiency and time.