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Switch to devices that weigh a kilogram, slip into any sleeve and still run buttery smooth. Image Credit: Shutterstock

If you're logging into work halfway across the globe, don't let a heavy machine spoil your holiday mood. A good travel laptop will barely add to your carry-on load, boot up in an instant and come with reduced cable clutter - ideally a single USB-C wire to keep you online. Whether you're a freelancer, a remote employee or someone who flies often for work, a travel-friendly laptop can offer convenience like no other.

What should I look for in a travel laptop?

Your current options in the market will most likely boil down to a lightweight model from Lenovo, Microsoft, Apple, Dell or HP. "These brands have light machines that you can carry with you easily, but do note that they're not budget-friendly like regular laptops, with prices usually starting from Dh3,000," said Harish Kanjani, operational director and co-owner of Computer Care LLC in Dubai, an IT solutions provider and an authorised reseller for brands such as Dell, Intel and ASUS.

The price tags directly reflect their build quality, processing power and compact size. According to Kanjani, your travel laptop should have at least 8GB RAM to run stutter-free. Here are more configurations to keep in mind when shopping:

  • Weight: "Most lightweight laptops come with a certain chassis or outer structure, such as the carbon body in Lenovo's X series Carbon. So, look for a carbon shell or any material that makes the laptop weigh around 1kg."
  • Mobile processor: Laptops are integrated with a mobile CPU that doesn't take up a lot of space, but does affect the performance in ways apparent from a desktop computer. Your choice of chipset will depend on your primary purpose. "The choice is between Intel Core i5 or i7, where the former is an economical option and the latter is more expensive but good for designing and programming."
  • Battery: Since mobile CPUs are designed to be power efficient, Kanjani says that these laptops offer the best battery performance, up to seven hours or an entire work day.
  • Display size: "Anything above 15 inches will become heavy. Go for 13 or 14 inches in screen size."

Caring for your travel device post-purchase is also equally important. Portable machines are always susceptible to external damage in transit - an accidental knock against the wall here and a bump against the coffee table there. Make sure to invest in a laptop sleeve or a case.

"One has to use a proper carry case, which should have a separate compartment for cables and the laptop itself. You could go for a hard case but this can increase the overall weight," advised Kanjani.

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With the help of our expert's recommendations, we've compiled a list of the best travel laptops below. Jet off worry-free with a fast-performing work buddy on your side from Amazon, where you'll find great discounts on laptops. Shop with a Prime membership to get it as soon as today.

1. Best Overall: Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon

Pros

  • Weighs 968 grams only
  • Runs on Intel Core i7 12th Generation processor
  • Large 16GB RAM for smooth performance
  • 2.5K anti-glare display with Dolby Vision
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life
  • Ports include Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C 3.2 Gen 2

Cons

  • Only 512GB SSD at this price

Lenovo manufactures some of the lightest carbon-based laptops on the market. Kanjani says that business-oriented users can't go wrong with the ThinkPad X13, while casual consumers will find the Yoga series much more palatable in terms of design. Made for digital nomads, the Yoga Slim 7i weighs less than 1kg, thanks to its multi-layer carbon fibre chassis, and still carries a powerful Intel Core i7 12th Generation chip with 16GB RAM. Its 13.3-inch display boasts a high 2.5K resolution, treated for anti-glare viewing and eye fatigue. Join video conference calls on your trip, no matter the location, as the Yoga Slim 7i comes with an HD 720p webcam, noise-cancelling mics and an electronic shutter for added privacy. Its battery should easily last you for up to 10 hours.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh354.25 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh427, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh545. 

2. Best for Apple Users: Apple MacBook Air M2

Pros

  • Apple M2 chip is faster than Intel Core i7 processor
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • Runs productive office apps smoothly
  • 1080p HD camera with Dolby Atmos and Vision
  • Charges via either the two Thunderbolt ports or the MagSafe port

Cons

  • Only 256GB SSD storage at this price

Those accustomed to the Apple ecosystem should no doubt invest in MacBook Air, our expert says. "It's the best one out there - customers prefer MacBooks for their unique design, security features and optimised performance for certain editing and music apps, which work especially well on this laptop," added Kanjani. The latest 2022 MacBook Air runs on the Apple M2 chip, so it delivers up to two times faster performance and up to 50 per cent longer battery life (a whopping 18 hours) than an Intel Core i7 processor. All your go-to Windows apps, like Microsoft Office and Teams, are just as excellent on the macOS. It's also a popular choice for graphic-intensive work, given its Liquid Retina display that supports one billion colours across the screen. You have the flexibility of charging the 13.6-inch model with either a USB-C or a MagSafe 3 cable, whatever's in your pouch that day. Reviewers have no qualms about the 8GB RAM since it's backed by the M2 chip, where they report running up to 20 tabs on multiple browsers without a hitch. It's slightly heavier than our best overall at 1.24kg, but buyers find it lightweight enough for travels.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh349.92 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh427, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh545.

3. Best Hybrid Device: Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Pros

  • Lightest on the list at 879 grams
  • Two-in-one flexibility of a laptop and tablet
  • Runs on Intel Core i5 12th Generation with 8GB RAM
  • Up to 15.5 hours of battery life
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect to external displays

Cons

  • Keyboard and stylus are sold separately

When it comes to portable devices, few beat the space-saving attributes of a tablet and even fewer offer full computer specifications. The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a happy medium, combining laptop-level performance with the flexibility of a tablet. "Microsoft Surface is used a lot all over the world because of its reliable, flagship performance. However, only go for a hybrid laptop if you intend to use the touchscreen. Many people pay a premium for the touch option and then don't end up utilising it," said Kanjani. This more affordable Surface Pro 9 runs on the Intel Core i5 12 Generation chip and sports a 13-inch touchscreen, which tweaks the familiar Windows layout for easier on-the-go access. It has a built-in adjustable kickstand that comes in handy when you're typing on the Surface Pro Keyboard - add a Slim Pen 2 to draw, scribble notes and edit with precision. Much like our previous options, the device carries two Thunderbolt 4 ports for when you need a larger external monitor to work on. Reviewers who own iPad Pro say that they prefer travelling with their Surface Pro 9. It's also incredibly light at 879 grams.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh279.92 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh332, a one-year extended warranty for Dh369, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for 424.

4. Best Value: Dell Latitude 7000 7420

Pros

  • Lightweight despite the traditional build
  • 1TB SSD storage with 16GB RAM
  • Runs on Intel Core i7 11th Generation chip
  • Long battery life
  • A good variety of ports and slots, from memory card reader to Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI

Cons

  • Might heat up faster than Lenovo Yoga

Your value options will come from Dell's Latitude range, specifically the 7400 series, according to Kanjani. If on a mid-range budget, consider this 14-inch Latitude 7420 laptop that still delivers an impressive performance on its 11th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM. Not only can you run multiple applications at the same time and get fast boot-up times, but you can also install heavy software onto its massive 1TB SSD storage. Be prepared to miss out on a higher screen resolution, however, with the Latitude 7420 offering a standard 1920x1080 display. Yet, thanks to its traditional form factor, you're getting a memory card reader slot and an HDMI port, alongside current connectivity options, such as two Thunderbolt 4 ports and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. Our pick is encased in a carbon-fibre chassis, which results in a lighter, portable machine for your travels. Reviewers love that it only weighs 1.22kg and charges quickly, but do note that heat retention is weaker than the Lenovo Yoga.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh217.08 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh285.

5. Best Budget: Acer Swift 3

Pros

  • Lightweight and slim
  • Sufficient 8GB RAM
  • Runs on Intel Core i7 11th Generation chip
  • Ports include HDMI, Thunderbolt 4 and USB-A
  • Up to 13 hours of battery life

Cons

  • Doesn't have a memory card reader
  • Runs on Windows 10

For an even more pocket-saving buy, check out this Ultrabook by Acer, previously recommended by an expert for its ultra-slim and ultra-lightweight (1.2kg) build. This budget-friendly Acer Swift 3 model features a 14-inch full HD display and runs on the 11th generation of Intel Core i7 processor, the same as our Dell Latitude pick. It does offer a lower yet sufficient 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage. You won't find a memory card slot here, but you will be able to connect multiple devices via HDMI, a Thunderbolt 4 port and two USB-A ports. It's made for working on the move, so expect at least 13 hours of battery life and get four hours of use in just 30 minutes of rapid charging.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh203.25 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The seller offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh238 and a one-year extended warranty for Dh312.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.