One of the most appealing parts of making a living as work from home professional or as a digital nomad -working remotely while traveling- is how flexible the job is.
As a remote working professional, you won’t need to lug around much fancy equipment with you when you connect from a nearby coffee shop or as you work while traveling around the world. In fact, you should be able to do your job with a thin laptop that fits in a backpack.
The one and only piece of work gear work from home professionals or digital nomads really do need to have is a reliable laptop (along with an excellent internet connection). The best laptop for working from home can maximize your productivity or destroy it.
However, there are many laptops out there that don’t hold up when it comes to durability and functionality. In short, not all laptops are made for constant use. Before you purchase a laptop, it’s crucial to do your research. Not only do you want to ensure that you’re getting a model that’s compatible with your life and work style, but that will stand the test of time.
A laptop for remote work needs to be a lightweight laptop, with long lasting battery life, high screen quality, among other features, and requirements that perhaps wouldn’t be as important to somebody buying a laptop for the office or to play games, but will be fundamental in this case. Let’s go through the laptop features to take into consideration, as well as the best laptops for remote work in the market, including both mac and pc computers.
- Criteria to buy a digital nomad friendly laptop
- The best laptops for remote workers now
Criteria to buy a “digital nomad friendly” laptop that you can also use to work from home
The way your laptop performs is important in any respect, but especially when it comes to working remotely. Your laptop cannot fail you when you’re in the middle of a meeting or essential presentation. The best laptops for remote workers are those that combine certain type of characteristics to take into consideration:
Remote workers need a lightweight computer. It’s crucial to have a laptop that doesn’t weigh you down or take up too much space in your backpack on your journeys.
You’ll need a laptop that is powerful and has all of the features that you need to do your work as well as big enough memory storage to save it, whether that’s design and development software or productivity and communications tools. You’ll probably also need to be able to have a good quality built-in HD camera with a headphone jack for video conferencing with clients and family.
An excellent battery life it’s a must. On the road, you’re pretty likely to find yourself in a situation without anywhere to plug your laptop in to charge. For that reason, it’s fundamental to ensure that you have enough hours of battery life.
A budget laptop it’s always desirable. Many digital nomads are working on a budget. That makes a powerful but still affordable laptop option highly attractive.
Meets Your Needs
Every digital nomad has different laptop needs based on the type of work that they do. A video editor, for example, will probably need to invest in display quality, good graphics card, touchscreen laptop with an sd slot and a fast processor whereas a writer might be able to get away with something with less storage and power.
Ease of Repair
What do you do if your laptop breaks on the road? Unfortunately, accidents happen and it’s important to be able to maintain your laptop in good working condition from all around the world. Some brands are easier to fix than others, with more or less internationally-located authorized repair locations.
Chances are, as a digital nomad, you won’t have the ability to replace your laptop every other year. Choosing an option that lasts is critical.
If you want to get work done on your laptop as soon as you buy it, you might want to go with a brand you’ve used before so you don’t have to waste too much time learning the device’s ropes.
The best laptops for working remotely now
Based on the previous criteria, what are the best travel and remote work-friendly laptops for remote based professionals or digital nomads? From this list, starting with lower prices but well performant laptops going also through mid range laptops, you should be able to select a good laptop with an incredible battery life, high resolution screen and HDMI port that will work for you, both in your personal and work life.
1. Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5
Price: Starting at $365.49
The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is one of the best ultraportable laptop deals that you’ll come across in the current market. The Lenovo Chromebook manages to lack standout features while offering very few problems for users, making it a fantastic, affordable option for many.
This model is durable and sturdy with touchscreen and stylus options, but there are a few drawbacks that come with such a great price. It’s heavier and thicker than other options in the same laptop league, and while you’ll definitely notice that you’re carrying it, it’s still very portable.
With a backlit keyboard and a decent (but not great) display, if you’re willing to give up a few bells and whistles to pay a lower price, there’s no better option than the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. Let’s take a closer look.
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 Pros
- Very good build
- Performs well at a lower price
- Very affordable
- Touchscreen and stylus
- Backlit keyboard
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 Cons
- Dimmer display than similar products
- Poor audio
- Batter life is mediocre, even when used correctly
For the price, you can’t beat the Lenovo Chromebook. However, you might have to lower your expectations just a bit.
2. Microsoft Surface 4
Price: Starting From $799.99
With a longer-lasting battery and more power inside the slim cover, the Microsoft Surface 4 is lightweight and slim -as well as cheaper than the Microsoft Surface Pro-, which is just what you would expect from a computer in the Microsoft Surface Laptop line. Microsoft hasn’t made any major promises with this fantastic laptop, but instead, advises that it’s a powerhouse that offers optimal performance, a comfortable-to-use keyboard, and an impressive audio function.
The Microsoft Surface 4 is ultraportable, based on design and ease of use. While the design is a tad boring, that doesn’t take away from the performance this powerful laptop is capable of giving. Overall, it will work well for remote workers, especially those that spend a lot of time carrying a laptop on their shoulders.
Microsoft Surface 4 Pros
- Intel-Core processor that allows for extra processing power when compared to your typical laptop
- Runs Windows applications such as Adobe Photoshop
- Fantastic Battery life of up to nine hours
- A fully-functional device that allows you to get work done when necessary
- Super light-weight
- Full USB 3.0 port, which means no adapter is needed for your flash drives
- The sleek look and comfortable keyboard
Microsoft Surface 4 Cons
- Price goes up quite high for more expensive models
- Not that different from the Surface 3
- Somewhat boring design
- Too few ports
- Thick bezels
Overall, the Microsoft Surface 4 is a good choice for remote workers. You’ll be pleased with the battery life and the functionality of the laptop.
3. Acer Swift 3
Price: Starting at $899.99
If you’re looking for sleek, thin, and ultraportable, the Acer Swift 3 is right up your alley. It weighs less than 3 pounds and its thickness measures less than an inch. When talking about comparisons, you could say the Acer Swift is an answer to the ever-popular MacBook Air.
This version of the Acer comes with the ports you’ll need to succeed at work and in school, including a combo port, HDMI, and USB, and the battery can go all day if you care for it correctly. The display is vibrant and rich in color, and the overall price point is better than a few others on this list. It’s a fantastic laptop, racking up a few cons in reviews from around the world.
Acer Swift 3 Pros
- Decent audio
- Legitimate all-day battery life
- Good performance
- Subtle but sleek
- Good webcam
Acer Swift 3 Cons
- No webcam privacy shutter
The Acer Swift is exactly what it claims to be, and while it might have a hard time topping the MacBook Air, it does a phenomenal job trying.
4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6
Price: Starting at $999
The beautiful touchscreen on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is nothing short of an incredible upgrade, along with new security features and a wider touchpad. This new Lenovo isn’t too cost-effective, but if you’re in the market for a laptop that gets the job done from a work perspective, look no further.
Circling back to the touch screen for a moment here, you’ll find that the texture is matte, which isn’t easy to come across. It may make colors appear a bit muted, but the feel is nice and you can still easily make out details in video content. The new Lenovo is gray all over, giving it a sleek and professional look, and the keyboard offers hours of comfort for those long days.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga is excellent, though it does have a few downsides. Let’s take a closer look.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 Pros
- Large, matte 16:10 touchscreen
- Good audio and visuals
- Overall smooth and long-lasting performance
- Good battery life when used correctly
- Stylus is built-in
- Relatively lightweight
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 Cons
- Webcam is not as good as the audio and falls short of what you’d expect on a laptop at this price
- Scratches up easier than most and will require a case for travel
5. MacBook Air M1
Price: Starting at $999
What about the new MacBook Air? The MacBook Air is historically hard to beat, working well as a design-only computer as well as an all-day work computer. In both instances, the battery life is fantastic, lasting anywhere from 8 to 10 hours without a charge.
The MacBook Air is notorious for having a terrible, grainy webcam, and the M1 is no exception. If you need a good webcam, you’ll want to check out the Acer Swift. Webcam aside, the MacBook Air is fast and offers very few (if any) performance issues.
MacBook Air M1 Pros
- Sleek and lightweight
- Stellar battery life
- Intel-based applications work without issues
MacBook Air M1 Cons
- No touchscreen option
- The webcam is not great
The MacBook Air is a great travel laptop option. It’s pricey, but not off track with the others in this group. It’s all about finding what fits in with your lifestyle. With so many options, there’s no need to compromise.
6. Dell XPS 13 (9310)
Price: Starting at $1,149.99
The Dell XPS 13 (9310) is an ultraportable laptop that offers super-long battery life and a lightweight design that makes it easier to tote from place to place. This Dell model has been redesigned significantly, creating a user-friendly option for those that work remotely or travel.
While the Dell XPS isn’t heavy by any means, it manages to feel sturdy while remaining thin and sleek. It’s likely important to note that the Dell XPS 13 is heavier than other ultraportable models available on the market, so if weight is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere.
Weight aside, you really can’t beat the high-quality materials and professional design that comes with the Dell XPS. Here are a few things for potential buyers to consider.
Dell XPS 13 (9310) Pros
- Upgraded performance overall
- Really thin, sleek design
- Compact chassis
- 16:10 screen with vivid color and picture
- Good battery life
- Includes USB adapter
Dell XPS 13 (9310) Cons
- Not many ports to choose from
- Heavier than other popular ultraportable models
The Dell doesn’t disappoint when it comes to remote work. However, there are lighter and less expensive options available.
7. 2021 MacBook Pro 14 Inches
Price: Starting at $1999
The most cost effective alternative of the MacBook Pro models, Apple truly raised the bar with its 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro. This laptop represents a true evolution of the MacBook, boasting all the comfort and familiarity of the older models along with bold, exciting features that keep it feeling new while adding a bit of convenience. In short, the 2021 MacBook has everything you might want from a laptop meant to work well for professionals.
While the inner workings of the MacBook Pro might be a bit different than you’re used to (in a good way), the outside was designed in true Apple fashion. It’s slim, silver, sleek, and the Apple Logo is placed smack dab in the middle. Though true to Apple design, it’s definitely easy to distinguish the MacBook Pro from other Apple laptops, such as the Air.
The MacBook Pro charges quickly and efficiently and has more ports (Thunderbolt included) than previous models of the Pro. It can even hold a full-size SD card, which makes it perfect for digital nomads. Another perk that remote workers will love is the updated webcam and audio for this model, both of which make planned and impromptu business meetings easier to execute.
MacBook Pro 14-Inches Pros
- Revolutionary XDR display
- Top-of-the-line creative performance
- Perfect size, and comfortable, trackpad and keyboard
- Wide port availability and selection
- Great battery life
- Fantastic web camera and speakers
MacBook Pro 14-Inches Cons
- The notch is large and can therefore be a bit of a distraction at times
Overall, the new MacBook Pro is a considerable upgrade from previous models and will work quite well for those that utilize it.
As a remote working professional you might want to buy a new, lightweight laptop that offers you a longer battery life, while providing you the key functionality you need to work. As we’ve seen before, there are many alternatives for every type of user, for windows users as well as mac computers fans. Even if a great laptop might be a bit expensive, remember that there are always options to buy a refurbished laptop too.
Are you looking for more remote work related gear? Check out our guides about:
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Mobile hotspots
- Backpacks for digital nomads
- International travel insurance
- International Data SIM Cards
- Top VPN Plans
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