Sunday 11 December 2016

Powerful and portable: 4 laptops for the business traveller

Published 21/01/2016 | 02:30

iPad Air 2 Plus
iPad Air 2 Plus
Macbook air II
Microsoft surface pro 4
Lenovo Yoga 900.

Going on a trip shortly? Want to bring along an effective work tool without taking up a whole travel bag? Here are travel-friendly laptop set-ups worth considering, says our technology editor.

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1 iPad Air 2 plus Logitech Ultrathin keyboard

Price: €599 (16GB)

Pros: featherweight, affordable, compact

Cons: still limited to lighter work duties

If you really want the most efficient space solution, this is the perfect portable set up. If your workload consists mainly of text and email, there isn't a lot that the iPad can't do. This is especially true since it introduced its multi-tasking split screen functionality in iOS 9. The iPad has a couple of inherent advantages over most laptops. It beats the battery life of most full-sized machines. And its space-saving prowess can't be beaten. Not only is it slimmer and lighter than any laptop in its price range, but its charger is far smaller too. And it can be recharged with a portable USB power charger. This means that you can use it comfortably in an economy-class plane seat. Logitech's Ultrathin keyboard is a brilliant accompaniment, with a month-long battery life and an idiot-proof method of turning the iPad into a laptop screen.

2 Apple MacBook Air 11

Price: €1,029 (128GB)

Pros: best-in-class design

Cons: less battery life than 13-inch model

If you're looking for the most complete compact laptop on the market for frequent business travelling, the 11-inch MacBook remains the benchmark. Five years after its first iteration, few machines come close to its powerful portability. While its screen doesn't have the high resolution 'retina' pixels of the newer 12-inch MacBook, it remains the more attractive overall option for a couple of reasons. Its Core i5 processor still motors through tasks and applications that the MacBook's Core M chip can't quite match. Its slightly smaller form factor is also marginally more advantageous for constant travellers. Finally, there's the price: this is €470 cheaper than the MacBook.

3 Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Price: €1,099 (128GB)

Pros: knacky Windows laptop-tablet hybrid

Cons: keyboard still lags laptop-grade

While the Surface Pro 4 is quickly being caught by other manufacturers, it remains a very neat Windows hybrid laptop that is light and powerful. It can be configured right up to a Core i7 machine with 8GB of Ram and a 512GB hard drive. And although its tablet pedigree is a selling point, don't let that put you off: this works more or less exactly the same as a regular laptop. New processors give the Surface Pro 4 more battery life while the redesigned keyboard has a larger touchpad, something that was badly needed from previous Surface Pro versions. It's definitely worth opting for the 'Pro' machine over the cheaper (€600) Surface 3, which offers a relatively frustrating experience because of its weaker power and inferior keyboard.

4 Lenovo Yoga 900

Price: €1,699 (512GB)

Pros: top-tier power and design for workers

Cons: a little pricey

If you live on the road or in the air and must have a full-powered Windows machine that is also slim and light, it's hard to beat Lenovo's Yoga 900. Despite its ultra-slim body, this is a beast under the hood. It has 8GB of Ram and a Core i7 processor, meaning that it shreds any task you throw at it. (A 16GB version is also available.) It also comes with oodles of storage in the form of a 512GB solid state drive. The laptop is beautifully designed, with tactile materials, a great keyboard and the latest connectivity ports, including a USB C slot. The Yoga 900 also has one other notable feature: its touchscreen flips over to make it a standalone tablet for presentations or video content.

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