Which laptop to buy for travel to US
Thread poster: Kitty Maerz

Kitty Maerz  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:24
English to German
+ ...
Jul 4, 2009

I am looking for advice on getting some new hardware.

I am planning an extended vacation later this year, and at this point I don't think it would be wise to completely stop working during that time. So what I would need is some sort of laptop that will allow me to keep in contact with my clients and work on any urgent projects that might come up.

Basically, I would need the computer to check my email, surf the internet, and at least run MS Office with decent performance. Being able to run Trados 2007 would be a plus but isn't absolutely essential.

My main requirements are:

- I need the computer to run in the US as well as in Europe (especially Germany). Obviously, the power supply is different and so are the plugs. I know this can be a major problem with some electrical appliances (I have an unused sewing machine from the US as well as some smaller stuff in the basement because of it). Does anyone have experience with how that works for computers? Do I need additional cables/plugs/whatever? Can I get any laptop or only certain kinds?

- Size/weight. I do have a desktop PC and really only need the new computer for vacations or maybe occasionally on a train. So it doesn't need to be the most comfortable to work on (but of course it should be manageable).

- Price. Isn't the main consideration but should of course not be outrageous.

I have been thinking of getting a netbook as I really do not want to drag around a regular laptop if possible. However, I am unsure whether it will be sufficient for what I intend to use it for and whether it will work in different countries.

I would greatly appreciate some advice on which kind of laptop/netbook would be best for my purpose.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
German to English
Netbook probably not adequate for working Jul 4, 2009

Most power supplies for laptops operate at a voltage range from 110-230V. All you'll need is an adapter plug.

Netbooks are OK for checking e-mail, surfing, etc. but in my opinion, not really useful for serious work. The screens are small. the amount of RAM is limited, and they usually don't have optical drives, so loading many programs will require an external CD/DVD drive.

You best bet would be to get a laptop with sufficient capacity to function as a backup device in the event of failure of your desktop computer. I think you'll be much happier than with a netbook, although the outlay might be higher.


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Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:24
English to Polish
+ ...
A word from a happy road warrior Jul 4, 2009

Kevin Fulton wrote:
Netbooks are
t really useful for serious work. The screens are small. the amount of RAM is limited, and they usually don't have optical drives, so loading many programs will require an external CD/DVD drive. [/quote]

I'm not so sure. I spend about 10-12 weeks every year working in hotel rooms, ski condos, on the planes, etc. For almost 4 years now, I have been using a Sony Vaio with a 10.3-inch screen, and even though in my home office I have two 24" monitors, the screen size was never a serious problem. Neither was 512 MB RAM. Sometimes, I had PowerPoint, Trados with TagEditor, a dictionary, and a few browser instances running at the same time, and the performance was more than OK.
My Vaio back then cost $1,700. These days Levono IdeaPad has 1 GB memory, a faster processor, and the same size screen, and the price is $350-400. You may even consider buying one in the US, it is usually quite a bit cheaper.
And if you want a small machine just for your vacation, go to Costco (if you are not familiar with them, check their website) - you will have 3 months to return it, free of charge. The same is by the way true for big screens they have - if you are staying mostly in one place while in the US, that might be an option


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
external drive Jul 4, 2009

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Netbooks are OK for checking e-mail, surfing, etc. but in my opinion, not really useful for serious work. The screens are small. the amount of RAM is limited, and they usually don't have optical drives, so loading many programs will require an external CD/DVD drive.



I have a netbook (EEE PC), but was thinking I still need a more functional laptop for when I go down under next winter. It's not so much screen size or keyboard size, as I think I could handle those for a workload that was, say, 4 hours a day, and anyway, at least some of the time I could use someone else's computer.

However, I was interested in your comment about external drives, as the main problem with the netbook is that it's not powerful, which makes me think that maybe I could work off an external hard drive, loaded with my documents and with the software I need, and so boost the capacity of the netbook.

Is that possible? It would be much better to travel with a netbook and an external drive than with a much larger laptop (for the prices I'm looking at, around 500 euros).


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 04:24
English to Spanish
. Jul 4, 2009

You might want to check this post (and comments) on netbooks for translators:

http://thoughtsontranslation.com/2009/06/16/netbooks/


Greetings
Andrea


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
separating out issues Jul 4, 2009

ariffo wrote:

You might want to check this post (and comments) on netbooks for translators:

http://thoughtsontranslation.com/2009/06/16/netbooks/


Greetings
Andrea


The big issues with netbooks are (at acceptable levels) can I view, can I type, then, big Q, can I really work?

The first 2 issues are really beside the point, assuming one isn't putting in 10-hour days on netbooks. We learned to SMS, right? I've never had a problem with screen size or keyboard size with my netbook.

The real issue is whether it's powerful enough for what work you want to do.




[Edited at 2009-07-04 23:55 GMT]


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Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Plugs should not be a problem Jul 4, 2009

Kitty Maerz wrote:
- I need the computer to run in the US as well as in Europe (especially Germany). Obviously, the power supply is different and so are the plugs. I know this can be a major problem with some electrical appliances (I have an unused sewing machine from the US as well as some smaller stuff in the basement because of it). Does anyone have experience with how that works for computers? Do I need additional cables/plugs/whatever? Can I get any laptop or only certain kinds?


Hi, Kitty,

As far as I know all laptops use a power supplies which automatically switches between 110 w (USA standard) and 220 (European standard). Nevertheless, double check before buying it.

Basically you only need a plug adapter that allows you to connect the German laptop to the USA power plugs.

I recently bought a netbook in Germany (in Saturn but any computer shop would) and they also sold power adapters, which I have happily used in Canada (same system as in USA).

Daniel


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 04:24
English to Spanish
@ Lia Jul 5, 2009

Ummm, I'm not quite sure what to make of your quoting me with the title "separating out issues". I just thought that maybe the link I posted could be of help to the OP or someone else. FWIW, some people have commented there on the "separate issues" you mention.

Did I unwittingly step on someone's toes or come off as rude/harsh/younameit? If so, I apologize, since it was not the intention.

Regards
Andrea


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Kitty Maerz  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:24
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the info Jul 5, 2009

I really appreciate everyone's input.

Thanks especially to Kevin and Daniel for reassuring me about the power supply/plug issue. Often the salespeople at the computer store aren't very knowledgeable, and it would be too bad if I bought a laptop only to find out that it won't work outside the country or needs some expensive/hard-to-get gadget in order to function.

One more question regarding international compatibility: Will I need any different adapters/cables etc. to connect to the internet or are those standardized?

Andrea, thanks for the link. I did look at it, and it seems that for the most part a netbook would be sufficient for what I need to do. The more I think about it, the more I think a netbook is the way to go. The vacation I am planning isn't that long (a little over three weeks), and I am definitely not intending to work more than an hour or two on average. Basically, I need to check my email and be able to do small/urgent jobs that might come up. I do have access to a regular laptop at home, but the idea of lugging something of similar size/weight around with me isn't very appealing.

Thomasz, thanks for the tip about buying the netbook in the US. I will definitely consider that.

Lia, I think you are right in that I needn't worry too much about ease of typing and screen size (though I am wondering whether anyone could recommend one netbook over another based on experience). However, you mentioned that your current netbook isn't powerful enough. Could you comment on exactly how bad the performance is?


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sorry! Jul 5, 2009

ariffo wrote:

Ummm, I'm not quite sure what to make of your quoting me with the title "separating out issues". I just thought that maybe the link I posted could be of help to the OP or someone else. FWIW, some people have commented there on the "separate issues" you mention.

Did I unwittingly step on someone's toes or come off as rude/harsh/younameit? If so, I apologize, since it was not the intention.

Regards
Andrea


Andrea, I didn't mean to sound offensive! So please accept my humble apologies:-)

What I meant to point out is that the writer in the blog you linked to basically rated the netbook as "a pretty good substitute for a smartphone", but I'm of the opinion it is a bit more than that: you CAN work on it, if you accept the screen/keyboard size, although not for extended periods.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Power Jul 5, 2009

Kitty Maerz wrote:



Lia, I think you are right in that I needn't worry too much about ease of typing and screen size (though I am wondering whether anyone could recommend one netbook over another based on experience). However, you mentioned that your current netbook isn't powerful enough. Could you comment on exactly how bad the performance is?



I've only used it for Word docs and it hasn't even occurred to me to load the two programs essential for working from my point of view, a CAT tool and voice recognition, but especially the former, as I assume it's not powerful enough.

What I have done is translate in Word using Trados on the PC, then copy the text to the netbook and work with hidden text visible and between tags. But travelling i wouldn't be able to do that, which I why I've asked if i could store the programs on an external hard drive.


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