Best Nomad Laptop

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Best laptops for nomads

Assumptions when compiling this list:

  • Nomads move around a lot and do not travel with a large amount of gear to size and weight are at a premium and usually most important factors.
  • Battery life, durability and strength are important.
  • Some nomads have large budget for tech products they do their work on, some work to a very limited budget for a machine to use the web on.
  • HD Screen resolution, Linux compatibility factors which are potentially decisive for some people.
  • Peripherals like power adaptors, backup drives are not included in this list.
  • Tablets don't cut it for nomads - you need a keyboard, and you need the facilities of a full operating system.
  • Keyboard, trackpad, sound, and external connectivity although important for most are not deal breakers if they're not best in class

Types of user

To make things easier, here are some typical types of user to help divide our list up a little:

  • Power User: High budget, power user. Wants best possible machine, budget not important, $1000-$2000, light-weight, lots of CPU/RAM, HD screen.
  • Budget Worker: Limited budget. Wants best possible machine to work on so need Windows/OSX/Linux and reasonably sized screen, but working to tight budget: $250-$500.
  • Lightweight - not power user but prepared to pay for portability/quality/battery life: $250-$1000, light-weight.
  • Disposable: Only need to surf and do basic stuff anything else a bonus. Don't care too much if you lose it. $100-$250.
  • Linux Hacker: Can pay less for a machine to run Linux because are power users who know how to configure for Linux, care more about upgradability, keyboard, low price. $250-$500
Laptops User type Pros Cons Cost URL
Lenovo Carbon X1 Power should go for the version without the toochscreen and the
Dell XPS 13 Power/Linux Built by Dell for Ubuntu, runs Ubuntu perfectly. It runs pretty ok on ArchLinux too. Great HD screen. Amazing Next Day Business support. Poor battery life (~3-4 hours depending on workload), mediocre keyboard. If you want a better battery life you should get your Dell XPS without the QHD+ and without the touchscreen. Some of them come with a wifi/bluetooth card that has no official support on Linux. 1200EUR Buy from Dell US or Ebay.
Lenovo X220 Budget/Linux Cheap! Runs Linux well, decent processor, nice keyboard, mobile internet can be added, part replacements available. General build quality not great, mediocre trackpad, mediocre battery life 200EUR Ebay
Macbook Air 13" Power
ASUS Zenbook UX301LA-DH71T, UX303LA. UX 32vd - best for video editing? i7, can upgrade disk & ram easily UX32V Power
Samsung Ativ Book 9 2014 Edition Power
(Best in class Chromebook) Budget
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Power

External Resources

Catering to the 'Power User' category, these two lists at Notebookcheck compile some best-in-class options for their 'Ultrabook' and 'Subnotebook' category: