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Should I Buy a Notebook, iPad or Netbook for Travel?



Professor X was planning a laptop-free trip to Israel Palestine, but thanks to a new deadline she needs to complete a proof of her new book within days of her return.

After consulting with travelers to the region, who suggested not leaving the laptop in her hotel, she was ready to buy a great backpack to keep her notebook with her at all times, but hauling an old, heavy laptop all over Israel Palestine isn’t the best solution.

Professor X, we’ll call her can’t afford to spend a lot of cash on a new computer, so she is looking for a cheap computer, tablet or a computer she can resell when she returns at a minimal loss.

While on the road she will need to proof a book, working in Word or Pages and will need access to the Internet and the ability to view PDF files. Prof. X doesn’t need 3G connectivity on this trip.

Notebook, iPad or Netbook for Travel?

The following suggestions will fit the needs of a traveler on a budget, with the possibility of selling the notebook, tablet or netbook at the end of the trip. Obviously the loss from resale is a big hit to take, but  it’s a price to pay for short-term access to the best solution.

Here are my suggestions in order from best to mediocre.

MacBook Air 11-inch

The 11-inch MacBook Air is the best fit for these needs. The small notebook can easily go wherever she goes, the battery life will last longer than most other small and light notebooks and there is a full size keyboard for proofing her book.

MacBook Air for travel

The best price for the 11-inch MacBook Air is $939 on, which is way out of the budget available for this trip. When Professor X returns she could sell the MacBook Air for $745-800 on eBay, resulting in a roughly $200-250 cost to use the MacBook Air.

iPad 2 + Keyboard

iPad 2 for travelThe iPad 2 and a keyboard would also deliver the battery life, power and functionality she needs to work on her book while traveling and meet her deadline.

The refurbished iPad 2 16GB WiFi model is available for $349 on Apple, which is $50 less than retail. Due to other circumstances, even $350 is more than the prof can spend on technology at this point, but there is a great solution here.

She can buy the refurbished iPad for $371 with tax, and lock in a $320 trade-in price on Amazon before she leaves.

This makes the net cost $51 for 2-weeks with the iPad in Israel Palestine.

Even with the $20 iPad Bluetooth keyboard case and Pages, the total cost of this solution is $80.


Netbook travelAmazon’s top rated netbooks as of today are the Acer Aspire One AOD27– and the HP Mini 210, both available for under $300.

If Professor X purchases a netbook for the trip, I recommend that it is a device she plans to keep because the resale value of netbooks is paltry compared to the Apple iPad.

Either of these notebooks would be better than an “8-year old 300 pound laptop,” which is what my friend describes the current laptop as.


The best solution based on the budget available and the project needs is the iPad 2, which could be resold when the trip is over at a minimal cost to the professor.

It’s possible that she won’t need the keyboard, as the on-screen keyboard is enough for corrections and emails.

Considering the original solution was to by a really good $100 backpack and carry the old laptop everywhere she went, $80 for a 1.5 pound computing experience is a better deal, even if she sells the iPad at the end of the trip.

Did I miss a better solution for our traveling professor? Let us know in the comments.



  1. Dave

    05/07/2012 at 7:49 am

    Get a Galaxy Note. She can plug in a folding usb keyboard and mouse (which can be left in her hotel room) and edit her book in google docs. Then she doesn’t even need to take a bag with her to carry the ipad, the note can fit in her pocket!

  2. DNel

    05/07/2012 at 8:01 am

    A different solution is to not take any. Bring a usb memory stick (or use the cloud)and make sure your accommodations have access to a computer (or hit an internet cafe) No worries about buying/reselling/stealing. Since 3G connectivity is not needed, we can assume all work will be done near a wifi source (hotel with computer access, internet cafe). Use the $80 to pay for the use of the computer at the hotel or internet cafe.

    • TheEqualist

      05/07/2012 at 12:44 pm

      I agree and she can do all of the work in Google Docs and never have to worry about loss of data. The only problem is if she wants to ‘write on the go’, but there is always pen/paper + retyping for that.

  3. Linda

    01/17/2013 at 2:24 am

    I tried the iPad route, but can find no easy way to upload files so that I can edit them in Pages, or to download them so they are saved in other places after they are edited. It seems that you can only move files around using another computer and itunes.
    I have lots of files, and will have no other computer with me. I guess I have to return the ipad. Needless to say, I’m not impressed with that suggestion.

  4. lynette

    03/31/2013 at 4:39 pm

    I want to buy a netbook in Australia how do I use it in the USA – please help I am Techno Dumb, dumber and know nothing ! – my family requests that I keep in touch (we are seniors)

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