What laptop/tablet do you prefer for remote working?

Dear @Robert

It all depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want something budget friendly, something that can withstand a nuclear fallout or something that will make Andy Warhol clap his hands, due to its “transcendence”? If you answered the second option, such as your’s truly, then my goodness, I can’t believe no one brought up…HER…! No one has mentioned the Mother of all travel computers. The Cheddar to the cheese of travel tech. The unstoppable, unholy matrimony between digital life and reality, The Tyrannical, your luminary!!!, the Panasonic Tough Book (Preferably a CF-19).

You want something you can swap out old parts with new parts, as they come? Something you can use in sub-freezing temperatures. Something you could sit in the middle of the Sahara Desert with, while calling a chopper via your Iridium Go Sat-Fi connection and a fine glass of Chardonnay, something you can email from 100 feet under water (Yes, in the water), saying you are about to run out of oxygen? Well, @Robert and all of the notifies, allow me the luxury of introducing you to a gear list straight out hell itself. The demon love child from of Die Hard and James Bond flick meets Hurt Locker.

First things first. Get me some Ice-cream and a lounge chair, because this is going to get detailed. Go ahead and grab some velcro and super glue that can withstand the same temperatures as the laptop itself, meaning heat, water, and sub zero. Use the adhesive to apply the velcro to the back of your laptop screen (we’ll get to why we are doing this at a later point). Now that that’s all done, giving you a way to connect to the rest of the world (Iridium Go), being that busy man, or woman, that you are, you will most likely need some extra storage. May I act as your Lucius Fox and recommend a Silicon Amour product. Perhaps the A 85. It’s not only going to meet all of the same durability and environment “friendly” specs as the Tough Book, oh no, It goes above and beyond. It also has crush resistance, dust resistance, can be used on a Mac or PC, with much more attributes being brought to the table unmentioned.

But why stop there? Surely you’ll need a way to communicate with HQ, or the rest of your team via voice every now and then. Adding a Jabbra Steel Bluetooth headpiece to your arsenal will be more than enough to “get the message across”, rather it is just down the street or over oceans.

The last two “toys” I’d like, no LOVE, to bring up would be the Data Lock Sentry flash stick. This is by far NOT your average thumb drive you would give to your little shnookums as he/she goes off to college. This is something your commanding officer says "if you don’t deliver this message to the president within the next 48 hours…"
It doesn’t only come standard with the latest encryption key that would even stump the KGB, MI6, and the CIA, the company is also known for having the option of adding a self-destruct feature, to be built in upon request. The icing on the cake would be having a device as small as a phone, with the same feel and touch, that could access Skype through your Sat-Fi, since most companies now a’days that offer remote work, or as a distributed team, use such a service. Built by the same manufacturer as your laptop, and not even in production yet, the FZ-E1 would be your huckleberry.

Now that you’ve got all the great and latest gear, you will need a backpack to carry it all in, when traversing that rough terrain you’ve come to know oh so well. The Pelican Elite Series laptop backpacks don’t just have your back, they’ll take your heart at first sight. You can thank me later when you’re cruising on a freighter across the Indian ocean.

Oh yea, remember the whole velcro thing, feel free to slap it on the back of your Iridium Go, and your A85, and then mesh on the back of your laptop, have fun!

Your Gear Nut,

  • Seth Warner :slight_smile:

P.S. If Chuck Norris and Client Eastwood were to have a baby, and that baby chose to be a programmer, above is the gear it would take over the world with…


Anyone use an iPad pro as their only computer?

Looks like majority MacBooks here, same here. 13 inch MacBook Air. Lightweight, great trackpad, It’s the 2011 version though, so it’s kind of old. Waiting for the new version to come out. I mostly do email, web surfing, youtube watching, but it can of course handle more.

Writer (copy&academic) and kinda designer here. I mostly use word processing, or work in .AI and .PSD, or Wordpress from Chrome.

I had my beloved 15" retina MBP stolen 10 days before embarking on my first nomad trip (Thailand), so I desperately bought a used Air 13. It did the job well for almost 2 years, but I recently went back to the 15" rMBP (bought a US-smuggled used one with 5 loadcycles for dirt cheap in Tbilisi, Georgia). A no-brainer for me.
I think it’s the best computer ever for nomading. The point is you’ll be staring at a screen for many hours at a time, so it may well be a big and amazing screen. Also, a fast computer makes work motivating and pleasant, and you can easily run every conceivable OS with virtualization (I run WIN 10, Ubuntu & Win XP).

For those worried about weight, consider that we nomads don’t move around every day like backpackers do. My Air was 1.3 Kg, while the rMBP is ~2.2 Kg - a bottle of water more, essentially. IMO it’s worth it to endure a kg more on the occasional travel/commute rather than strain your eyes and motivation by using a smaller.

Also, for eventual theft/breakdowns, make sure you learn about the best classifieds ads websites wherever you are. Developing countries (Serbia and Georgia in my case) have great bargains to be found, since there’s incentive to “import” gray/black market electronics from the U.S. I paid $2000 for a maxed-out Nov-2015 rMBP in Tbilisi (515 Gb, AMD radeon GPU), which is insane! Just stash some cash for a new computer, and you’re good to go.
If you’re into design, though, you may want to avoid the dedicated graphics card, as it drains power like crazy. Go with the 15" base model and rock that Intel Iris.

I wonder why nobody is using a new MacBook. I love it! Its’ weight is almost nothing, the performance is good for running full-stack development, the charger is pretty small too. I can totally recommend it. I was skeptical before getting it, but I’m very satisfied and do not regret. I’ve owned 2 MacBook Air’s and a MacBook Pro before (+ bunch of pc’s).

I recently got a Lenovo idea pad. I don’t need anything with a lot of grunt and this is so lightweight I hardly notice it in my bag. Cost next to nothing too, so if it does get banged up or stolen, I’m not going to be too upset.

(Preface: web developer, mostly front-end + Drupal site-building)

Older Mac mini upgraded to solid state + 16G RAM for the longer-term desk location, 13 inch Air ('14) with an I7 + 8G RAM for mobile dev, Toshiba Chromebook 2 just for the hell of it. Pelican S100 Backpack in case I fall off the bike and need to write code while I’m in a ditch somewhere.

Not much I can add about the Air; everyone loves them and has written this topic to death. The Air was a good compromise for me; lots of power for code stuff + light enough to carry under my arm in a book case (I use one from Pad & Quill, looks like a leather-bound book instead of a laptop / theft target). The processor is faster than the mini I use as a desktop, so I could theoretically replace the mini with a monitor out cable and just leave the Air docked.

The Chromebook is worth looking at. You’d be really, really surprised at how much work you can get done on a Chromebook if it’s one of the reasonably nicer ones. Even programming using a cloud IDE wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d thought, the 1080p screen is nice, and typing is very comfortable (this is important!). $200 on a Woot sale is hard to beat. I’ve used it as my sole dev environment in Mexico, Chicago, San Fran, and London last year, and again in Goa last week. It kinda sucked for working on Drupal projects, but installing Ubuntu fixes that problem.

Chromebooks are also some of the easiest ways to get good laptop hardware that works with 'nix without too much pain. That $200 covers a painfully large % of what I use the Air for. As a backup laptop, it’s very hard to beat. You worry a lot less when you start carrying one of these around and leave your Macbook at home. Almost matches the Air on battery life, too. Both can do a day at the coffee shop without a charger if I have to.

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I would advise against Air, I’ve had it for the past 3 years and probably due to the tropical climate (I run coworkation events in places like Bali and Mauritius), it has given me a plethora of problems (motherboard, battery, turning on and off, etc).
We were actually 5 people in the group in Mauritius recently who had an Air and 3 of us had serious issues with it.
Planning to try a Lenovo Yoga, I hear great things about it.

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This thread makes me SO happy; in fact, wish it had existed when I left the Swoosh back in 2014 to live on the road. My time there (using exclusively Apple products) left me with a bad taste in my mouth for anything Mac, and since I’ve always been a Windows kinda girl I went for the Surface Pro 3.

Here’s why I made that decision:

  • Again, I hate Apple. I could go on a rant but for the sake of staying on topic, let’s just say that this dislike was the first in my mind. That said, a MBP was always going to have to be a last-ditch option because…

  • As a creative strategist and often content producer, I need to have Adobe CC and other processor-intensive programs. A tablet was never an option.

  • I love the form factor of the SP3. I threw a rugged case on it and took it everywhere.

Now then, the learnings:

IMO, the SP3 is not a machine that performed well on the road due to multiple software updates, glitchy behavior, and lack of support on the road. This is especially bad when you’re bumping around South America in your old Subaru with only 2 hours per week to connect…and the d*** machine decides to update itself. That means I’d spend vast amounts of time getting frustrated with the computer when MS decided to push another crappy update.

Also, by the end of the year, my power cable was broken, and guess what: it’s some proprietary connector. So I was basically offline for 1+ months until I came back to the States.
Here’s how I think about this machine: In theory, a beautiful concept. But in practicality, a horrible actualization.

I guess I should have listened to my Nike coworker who was on the MS product branding team when she said, “I told them it needed to go back to development.”

That said: it’s now time to get a new computer, so what non-Apple recommendations does anyone have for me?
P.S. @agentsward thank you for the highly entertaining read :joy:

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Your quite welcome!