My week-long honeymoon in Vail ended up being a pretty good test of how much of a computer I really need to get by. As it turns out, my year-old Toshiba T135-S1305 fits the bill admirably, and it cost me less than $500 new.
Besides my phone and Kindle, this laptop was all I brought to Vail to handle our infotainment needs, and as we ended up vegging in front of the TV a lot on this trip, we used it a lot. I had loaded up several hours of television before we left as well as an assortment of cables to hook up to whatever TV would be in our condo, and with that minimal preparation, we ended up having all the entertainment we wanted. This included locally-stored videos, videos we downloaded via bittorrent after we ran out of what I brought, episodes on Hulu, Netflix streams, Rhapsody music streams, and some Flash sermon video. I also ended up blogging throughout the trip, which I hadn’t originally planned.
Although it’s got a low-power CPU (which lets it get around 8-hour battery life), it features two cores and proved capable of powering a 720p monitor just fine via its built-in HDMI port. While streaming Sherlock in HD from Netflix it stuttered a bit at first, but eventually hit its stride and played smoothly.
It’s also got a good keyboard with which I was able to blog easily, and although its built-in flash memory slots don’t support CompactFlash, I brought an adapter which enabled easy uploading of pictures to the blog as well. On the note of blogging, I tried out Windows Live Writer for all of these posts and after adding the appropriate .htaccess permissions to my Wordpress-based website, it’s worked flawlessly. It’s much easier to type up a post and embed local pictures using its native Windows interface than the browser, and there’s less fear of losing your work as it doesn’t require an internet connection until you hit “publish.” Pretty nice program for free, I must say.
Anyway, all this is to say that I was completely happy with my Toshiba’s capabilities on this trip and found that I wasn’t unable to do anything I wanted. Which is to say, a low-end laptop running a true OS is all I need to do most computing things these days, including more intense things like streaming HD video. And if you’re in the market for a cheap, very portable laptop, I must recommend this Toshiba as it’s been great both on this trip and for the last year doing work-related stuff with it. The only negative I’ve found is the glossy body finish picks up fingerprints and finger oils like nobody’s business and ends up looking pretty nasty. It bugs me all the time, but the laptop’s been so good otherwise I can’t help but still recommend it.
I can’t help but also point out that I’m relieved I didn’t bring my iPad 2 instead of the laptop in hopes that it would do enough. It couldn’t have stored on its modest hard drive all the TV show episodes I ended up bringing, lengthy blog posts would have been really frustrating to type, uploading images from my camera would have been impossible, downloading more episodes of Masterchef Australia via bittorrent would have been impossible, and outputting the video via HDMI would have required a $50 adapter I don’t have. This further confirms my conclusions that the iPad is nice to have around the house, but is not a “real computer” that can reliably replace even a cheaper, low-end laptop for as short a time as a week.