Many laptops, such as the MacBook Pro, are real desktop alternatives. But they also cost an awful lot of money, and they’re hefty things to carry around. Any time I’ve used a laptop when travelling – on planes, on trains, on ferries – I’ve wished I had a smaller computer (particularly on planes, where you get less room than a veal calf). Unless you need serious horsepower from a mobile PC, a top-end laptop is a daft buy: even the titchiest machine is perfectly capable of DVD playback, office applications and anything else you might need on your travels.
That was before the invention of the netbook, which is the smaller computer I wanted whenever I tried to unfold a Powerbook or MacBook Pro in a plane seat. With netbooks becoming so handy (particularly in the battery life stakes) and cloud computing making it easy to share and/or sync stuff between multiple machines it’s bordering on insanity to buy a fully-featured laptop for travelling: with netbooks going for £300 or less (and refurbs starting to appear from the likes of EuroPC) you really need to be rich or daft to buy anything bigger.
As my 2006 post put it:
The little laptop will be smaller, lighter and therefore more portable than a big beast of a machine – and you’ll be less upset if it gets broken, nicked or blown up by terrorists because you’ll still have a working machine at home.
I’ll be testing a Samsung NC-10 fairly soon, so I’ll eat my words if it’s a load of crap. But I suspect it won’t be.