OT: Computer Advice requested


I don’t start a whole lot of forum topics but I can’t pass up an opportunity to probe a helpful and knowledgeable community. I personally know virtually nothing about computers and I don’t often do this but I am permitting you all to talk to me like I’m 5 (as far as computers are concerned, anyway).

As some of you may know, my wife and I have joined the Peace Corps and we are leaving for Uganda at the beginning of June. We are spending our time off of work to prepare and spend time with loved ones.

As part of our preparations I am looking into potentially purchasing a different computer to travel with. Peace Corps recommends every volunteer bring a computer as we will be able to access internet to send/receive e-mails and conduct some of the charting and logs that will be a required element of our service.

I currently have a HP ENVY m6 Notebook PC with Intel core i5 processing and Windows 10 (which I despise, btw). It’s a bit big and the battery life under use is around 4 hours.

I am looking for something lighter weight and with longer lasting battery life. I don’t need to run any hi-tech software. I just want to be able to do some word processing and web browsing. Having a computer that can show movies and shows would also be a plus. Storage isn’t a concern either as we plan on bringing external hard drives. A quick google search has unearthed a ton of options and I just don’t have the knowledge or patience to dissect it all myself. I’m simply asking for any computer literate TKPers to offer a few bits of advice and perhaps get me pointed in the right direction.

Comments

Should do the trick for you. It’s never failed me

I have been lugging around heavy laptops since I graduated and while they got increasingly lighter laptops were always dead weight. Then I switched to a Microsoft Surface 4 for all my business traveling and it has been a figurative and literal weight off my shoulders. It is so damn light and easy to use. Fast and connects everywhere I go and I have taken it to some obscure places.

If you have the budget then from my experience it should do great for you. Not sure what the repair option in Uganda for the Surface are though, so apple may be better. I am not a fan of apple products though so cannot recommend those.

Honestly I hadn’t really set a budget yet. Still in the early stages of making this particular decision. I see that the Surface 4 is out to a quick lead in the poll. They are a bit on the pricey side but not quite out of the question. I would be interested to know a bit about some more affordable options, tho.

Why do you think Apple might be a better option if the repair options for the surface are limited?

I have always been a PC guy but I have absolutely hated Windows 10. Is there any way to avoid Windows 10 without getting a Mac?

I use an iPad Pro for 90% of my needs (email, web, note taking, media, music). I’ve got the Office365 subscription to handle all work documents + a bluetooth keyboard. I’ve not had one single issue with it in the year and a half of using it.

If you truely just want to do email and basic porn, the iPad is the way to go with a 365 subscription for the instances where you need document stuff. And you will need document stuff.

Peace Corps specifically says NOT to bring tablets because we will need to have some office software programs in order to carry out some job duties.

Why do you think Apple might be a better option if the repair options for the surface are limited?

you’ll be in uganda and not sure how many Microsoft locations are gonna be around for repairs if needed. Conversely Apple likely licenses someone in country.

Is there any way to avoid Windows 10 without getting a Mac?

Chromebook as others below have noted. Never used one, but from their assessment it sounds quite good

I have always been a PC guy but I have absolutely hated Windows 10. Is there any way to avoid Windows 10 without getting a Mac?

Have you ever considered Linux? I made the conversion from Windows in the last few years and will never go back. There are a lot of free linux distros that look and feel like older versions of Windows, a popular one being Zorin

thanks for the tip, however, as a computer illiterate bonehead I don’t know if I’m comfortable replacing the OS on my computer. I have no idea where to start with that kind of stuff or I might have done it on this piece of junk long ago. Will I lose all my files? What about tools like the calculator and stuff? I don’t know how any of this works.

Yes it will erase your hard drive so you would need to have your files saved externally. The new operating system would have its own calculator and other applications and programs. In Linux the office suite is called Libre Office and it was made to be compatible file-wise with with Microsoft Office.

Roughly how long does it take to make the swap? Do I have to purchase anything? How do I know if my hardware is up to snuff?

Microsoft Surface 4 is a fully functional windows desktop with a tablet body. It’s my personal laptop and it does great. For basic word processing, just use Google docs and let Google drive be your hard drive. Or on the surface you can purchase Office 365 and have the full office experience available to you, plus the ability to run word on your cell phone. Movies look great too.

Any tablet could do basically the same if you are content to use Google docs … the nice thing about Surface is that the cover is a full keyboard, which is so much nicer than typing on screen with a typical tablet.

I have a 200 dollar Asus Chromebook. I can look up the model when I get home, but it is great for email/browsing, etc. Has google docs for word processing, etc., and while you can watch stuff on it (13 inch screen) it still only weighs about 3 lbs and the battery lasts over 10 hours of continuous use. It’s been a fantastic purchase for me.

Yeah I would say a Surface tablet or a chromebook for the cheaper option. Apple DIY repairs, if needed, may be difficult as they don’t really allow that in their business model. Parts would be more difficult to find.

Last year I bought a Chromebook, and I love it. It has the advantage of being all solid state (like a MacBook) so it should be durable (I keep it in the house so I can’t really vouch for that). It’s cheap. And everything I want to do is online (I do all my word processing and spreadsheets on Google Drive). Basically this thing is like a smart phone without the actual phone parts, and with a full-size keyboard that is there when you want it but goes away when you don’t. It’s not for everyone, but I couldn’t be happier. Best part: no Windows AND no Apple.

Another vote for the Chromebook here. Agreed with all sentiments in the previous posts. Cheap, reliable, long battery life, etc

First of all, congratulations on joining the Peace Corps! A friend of mine started a Christian organization called Doors Ministries out there, so if you’re looking for someone to connect with, there’s good folks there! http://doorsministries.org/

Folks have already mentioned the Surface, which may well be your best bet. I’ll mention a couple other options in the same price range that aren’t tablets. I carry around a lightweight Samsung Book 9 that I quite like (http://www.samsung.com/global/ativ/ativbook9plus.html) I also recommend the HP Spectre 13 (http://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-spectre-laptop–13t-w0q41av-1). These both run just over $1000, but you may be able to find a deal on an open-box at Best Buy or something. That’s what I did to get my Samsung.

Well a keylogger was just discovered in HP audio drivers for several of their laptops, so maybe stay away from them for a while.

Also, I’ve never had good luck with HP as far as longevity goes. They’re always great to start off, but age very quickly.

Halfway through my undergrad, VT started selling the HP convertible tablets for engineering freshman and I never heard a good thing about them.

I work for Dell and while I do not sell laptops I agree with this sentiment and say steer clear of HP 🙂

I agree with the Chromebook comments and you could also look at something like the Inspiron 11/15. Like the Chromebook but full Windows OS. I gave the 11 to my daughter for homework and it’s been dropped a bunch of times and still working like a champ.

I worked for SWAT and can confirm that the HP tablets were a nightmare to deal with.

Don’t have a particular recommendation, but wanted to comment that I am just inherently against the idea of keeping anything important or private on a cloud drive.

Aside from the various fine print that is always subject to change, I am not sold on it being a safe alternative to keeping things on your own hardware.

Not sure about other laptops, but on this subject my chromebook does have 16 gb of disk space (more than enough for word docs, etc., not enough for HD movies) as well as a full size SD card reader, for extra memory.

Count another vote for the Surface. I got a Surface Pro 2 back in 2013, and I haven’t even considered switching to another portable computer (I have upgraded my gaming desktop once or twice in that span however). Battery still lasts for 5-6 hours under light use (web browsing, word processing, etc), 3-4 hours of streaming, and around 2 hours of gaming. When it was new, it lasted about 1.5x as long, so it’s only lost about a third of its battery capacity 4 years in and it’s still running strong, and I’m usually someone who wears out laptops within 2 years or so.

With regards to the Chromebook, from what I understand to really get the most use out of it you need to have a fairly consistent internet connection, or at least to use the main features that it offers, and I’m not sure how often that’ll be the case where you’ll be.

I have an ASUS Transformer T100. Basically a tablet with 64gb HD and microSD slot for more memory that can mount to a (provided) keyboard with another 500 gb drive. I use it with windows 10 and Office 365 for travel, documents, surfing, movies, etc.

In docked mode I get about 6 hours, as a tablet I have about an 11 hour battery.

Former IT guy here. Another vote for a Surface if it’s in your budget, or a Chromebook if not.

Haha Windows 10 is my favorite OS yet. I had to disable some of the dumb features (looking at you cortana), but im surprised people still hate it. I would also vote for the surface.

I’ve used a bunch of tablet/laptop devices at work. Here is my experience

Surface 3 – This is the Surface I’m testing on at work now and it’s pretty nice. Win10 full experience, with Office 365 you’ll get most of what you need, but be warned Office 365 isn’t as fully featured as the desktop versions. No worries, you can get those, too. Keyboard/tablet convertible.

Surface Book – OH MY GOD THIS THING IS AWESOME. But probably expensive. Tested on one at work, it’s one of the greatest devices I’ve used, especially if you only use the tablet. Gigantic, crystal clear, and so, so lightweight. I’m envious of whoever is using it currently. Win10 full. Keyboard.

MacBook Air – Cheaper than the Pro (<800, maybe <700 if I recall correctly) and a good little laptop. Not a fan of Macs, though, but if you like them, this would be a good option. I've never used Office products on a Mac, and the Numbers replacement for Excel is pretty terrible in my opinion. Office 365 and Google apps accessible. Firefox version available. Keyboard.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 – This is what I have at home, it’s way cheap ($200 or so), its lightweight, battery is good, perfect for web-based anything, Google Apps for free (and are available in an offline mode), access to Office 365 (obviously), and cheap enough that if you bust it you’re not going to be too hard up to get another one. If you had to get a new one, then all your stuff is in the cloud anyway, so you won’t lose anything. Supposedly , but mine only has ‘planned’ support. I watch streaming video on it frequently enough and it’s fine. Keyboard. Ports: HDMI+USB2+USB3+some sort of card+another slot I don’t recognize.

Optimal solution for you, I think, would be a Chromebook, primarily because it does what you need and it’s cheap. If you needed a lot of power for anything (gaming, heavyweight web pages, big data analysis, genome project) then you would want something else. But if you just need little stuff (Word- and Excel-equivalence, email, keeping us in our place at TKP), then you should be good.

My only concern with chromebook is that my Internet access will be sporadic at best

That is what I was going to point out is some of the no memory/cloud systems are reliant on GOOD internet connectivity.

Offline mode exists for Google apps and functions well. I’ve used it on a long flight and it worked just fine. Local storage exists, as well as a local runtime engine for the applicable apps.

There isn’t a Chromebook in the world that is designed to only function when the internet is accessible. It works ideally for using Chrome – the browser heritage of the OS does shine through – but you’ll be fine without it. A cheap dongle might be all you need if you can only find wired internet, as there is no ethernet port (at least on my cheap-o).

If you are planning on having an external hard drive, then storage isn’t your concern – as long as your external is USB compatible.

But if you wanted to use email, then you’ll obviously need internet. Streaming a movie? Internet. Storing movies to watch? Internal or external hard drive.

The only thing I think you cannot get offline is full version Office – but if you get a Chromebook that can run Android apps, then there’s an Android version of Office. Again, limited feature set. Google office is mostly compatible to MS Office, and totally functional for what you are talking about.

I’m not sure how the internet matters, though, as any device you purchase is going to need it for some of the things you mentioned. It isn’t like the Chromebook is a brick without the internet.

Okay thanks for clarification. I sorta got the impression I could only use word docs through Internet. I will be using external storage. Only reason for internet capability is so I can email when Internet is available. Mostly I’ll need to be able to do everything offline

Here is a slightly useful link to explain a bit about offline:

http://fieldguide.gizmodo.com/everything-you-can-do-offline-with-a-chrom…

When I was on flights, I had to download in advance those files from the cloud that I wanted to use on the flight. Worked fine for me.

EDIT: As long as you can get your Word docs onto the machine, you should be fine. Having said that, there are some differences between what you will see in Word and what you will see in Google Docs. For example, if you want to add a bunch of formulas to your doc using MS’s equation editor, don’t count on them being compatible between the two. Maybe the same for outlining and table-of-contents creation. I’ve crashed Google Docs countless times when loading and trying to interact with engineering-research-paper-level equations, so keep that in mind.

But if you are just going to be using tables, fonts, basic word processing…then you should be fine. When I have heavy-duty Word functionality that needs used, I just use Google Docs to write all my text and then wait until I have desktop Office on Win10 to do the heavy stuff.

From my perspective, I look at it like this: Anything that converts cleanly from RTF to HTML will be perfect in Google Docs. Everything else, you’re rolling the dice.

I ran Numbers and Pages for awhile on my MBP. They were fine. Then I had the opportunity to get Microsoft Office for $10 through my work HUP and jumped on it. Runs better on the Mac than it does on my Windows machine at work. But not everyone enjoys OS x.

I have a MacBook Air 11″ and have the full Microsoft Office suite and it runs exactly as if on a Windows machine. Only issue I’ve had is with the power adapter recently stopped working and wouldn’t charge. Got a new one and it’s back to normal, other than that no other issues. Unable to weigh in on the other options, but I have had my MacBook for over 5 years and never had a single connection, hardware, or programing issue. Super lite and thin, the 11″ fits perfectly into a legal pad binder for some protection if needed.
If I were to add any input, it would that if the laptop route is chosen to get one with a solid state hard drive/flash HD. Open up, hit button and cruise. No waiting for boot up.
Only down side to MacBook Air (other than price, obv.) is no ROM drive or SD slot, but I believe SD may be on the newer models, but those accessories are easily obtained and can be found cheap.

I use a MacBook Air at work every day, and it’s a nice little machine. I would say that a Chromebook, MacBook Air, or Surface would all be sufficient given the requirements, but if price (and a lot of travel/not entirely controllable usage conditions) are a concern, I lean towards the Chromebook. I do NOT, however, recommend paying for a MacBook Pro or a Surface Book if you’re going to be tossing it into a backpack and hoofing it around Africa, or wherever VPIHokieME is going to be stabled.

The biggest downside to the Chromebook is that major software suppliers like MSoft don’t make a Chrome-compatible full version, as the OS is still in its nascent stages of market adoption. I can’t set up an Anaconda environment on here as far as I’ve been able to tell, so there are some limitations. You CAN , so there is a bit that can be done there, but I haven’t.

This is definitely a thing that will happen. Durability is an important factor that I probably should have mentioned. I think SSD is going to be a must. My wife has a Lenovo ThinkPad with a SSD and we’re definitely bringing that. We will both need computers, tho, which is why I’m looking

I have a Lenovo that I inherited because my wife would not listen to advice and got it instead of a real laptop.

It is one of the things in this world that I actually hate. I have to use it because the new brewery has a budget…(insert whining about computer budgets in a brewery here).

Let’s just say that for my wife, getting this thing, has been a learning experience that I get to now suffer.

that’s interesting. My wife has had hers since she began grad school back in 2011. Nothing but positive things to say about it. She did a bunch of research on computers before getting it and she had a computer-geek-friend of hers help to install Windows7 on it (the original would have come with Vista, I think, and she didn’t want that). It’s been a great computer for her(us).

I guess experiences shape perceptions. I, for instance, HATE Windows10, solely because of my experience with it. I have been an anti-Mac, PC guy forever and this experience has almost made me consider making the switch.

Yup. Exclusively Apple laptops since 2005. I have a hobby desktop computer that runs Linux (I think it has an outdated version of Fedora, so it’s time to blow it away and play with something new) and my main computer in my lab is Ubuntu Linux, as are all of the computing clusters I use. Apple’s OS is built on Unix, so it really is the same thing to me, except it’s a bit easier to do word processing stuff on the Mac and the Retina display is baller. All while doing the research and code development that I need to do. Best of both worlds.

Retina display is very baller. Our top SEs get one when they become our top SEs. Camera is very very good as well. They also SWEAR by their MacBook Pros. Personally, I’m not spending that much on a laptop.

One other note about the Surface, though, is that I’ve seen two keyboards for them – one with keys, and one with…a sealed keyboard that is cheap, it sucks, but it is impervious to dust, sand, water, etc.

I just use a cheap $20 mini Bluetooth keyboard with mine, no way am I going to spend over $100 on a keyboard for any device.

https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Surface-Touch-Cover-Keyboard/dp/B00A2DBHMA

The thing with this is that there aren’t any actual keys – the keyboard is built with buttons more like what you would find on your microwave (sealed against the elements, keys are under a waterproof veneer) than you would find on any computer keyboard.

This means two things: It is far and away the worst keyboard I’ve ever used, and it is absolutely the most resilient keyboard I’ve ever used.

I know about the Touch Keyboard Cover, but I’ve never seen it on sale for cheaper than about $90 (admittedly, I haven’t looked very hard for one for the last 2 years or so).

I just looked around, seems all the Surface 2 keyboards are pretty cheap, there’s a few listings for the Power cover (with an extra battery) for around $25-30. I might pull the trigger on one of them tonight…

Worth noting that keyboard you linked to doesn’t list compatibility with the Surface Pro 3 or 4. It does note compatibility with the Surface Pro and Pro 2

Ya I used it on a Surface 1 I think. As a keyboard guy, I hate it more than anything.

It can handle anything you throw at it.
Pick your poison.

I still have a Lenovo I got for grad school in 2011 too, still love it. I have the “X series” (x220 I think?) which is the extra lightweight/portable designs. Could be worth a look.

I know you said earlier that the Surface 1-2 have a history of falling apart, but my Pro 2 tablet (without a case or screen protector or anything) has survived over half of a year of living in a backpack being hauled around campus, and 3 years since still living in a backpack (just not around campus), flying around the world, being shuttled between home and the office, and while the case has a bunch of scratches around the edges the thing works fine and the screen is still pristine.

I know 3.5 years of mostly-domestic usage doesn’t quite compare to hiking around Africa, but I have a history of burning through laptops in 2 years or so, to the point where they are physically falling apart. I do not have that problem with the Surface.

Word! Glad to hear it. We bought a bunch of them at one point so we could test on them, and ended up abandoning most of them due to startup and charging issues. By time we got to the Surface 3 they seemed to stabilize. Good to know the older models are still cranking.

I suppose that the charger is one thing I’ve been cautious of, as I don’t like the way it naturally bends while plugged in. I usually drape the power cord over the top corner of the tablet, if it’s on its stand. My brother has a Pro 3 and it seems much better designed.

ThinkPads if you want to use the greatest pointing device on the planet.

Tangent: Congrats on Peace Corps! I’ve had a few friends of mine get posted in Morocco and the Philippines and they both loved their experiences there. Good luck with Uganda!

Get a 13 inch Macbook Pro. Besides my Kindle, it has been the most worthwhile purchase I’ve made.

I’m not an Apple fanboy by any means — but this is the best notebook I’ve ever owned. Mac OS does take a little time getting used to, but they’ve made it better by finally implementing some obvious things that Windows made easy. (For a while you couldn’t just right click to rename things… crazy)

The battery life is amazing. If you’re doing light web browsing and using some light productivity apps like the MS Suite then it should last the whole day on one charge. Even while heavily multitasking the battery can last the majority of the work day for me. It’s only slightly heavier than a Macbook Air but boasts much better specs. I dreaded carrying my Dell Latitude around — and I only would if I absolutely had to. I carry my Macbook almost everyday. If you’re worried about USB ports then try to get a late 2013 build.

You mentioned watching movies — and I think the Macbook’s retina display and built-in speakers will do the trick. The sound quality really startled me at first. Last but not least — I’ve spilled a full beer into the keyboard (while turned on) and Ive dropped my computer on multiple occasions. No problem.

The upfront cost is a bit steep — and I’d much rather have a PC for being the hardcore gamer (at heart) that I am — but for mobility and efficiency… I don’t think you can do better than a Mac.

(For a while you couldn’t just right click to rename things… crazy)

Don’t forget, for a while you couldn’t right click on a Mac at all.

Also, the Microsoft Surface line is to Windows what the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro are to OS X. Lightweight and portable, yet still capable of doing almost whatever you need, but you’ll pay a good bit for it.

I’m actually fairly intrigued by the idea of swapping out my OS. I just don’t have any real idea where to start with any of that. Anybody who is willing to provide a quick crash course on that please feel free to do so!

I would caution you that Linux isn’t for the faint of heart. I just switched one of my computers (my living room HTPC) over to Linux about a year ago to set up a web server, and I’ve had a few compatibility difficulties with things. Even though Netflix is now officially supported in Chrome (but only since 2015) and Firefox (but only since March 2017) in Linux, I had to spend a few hours getting it to work, as the default Chrome installation had a few settings that needed to be adjusted. Additionally, I still encounter streaming services that are unavailable, with the most recent being NBC Sports just a couple days ago (after about 30 minutes of troubleshooting, I broke down and downloaded the app onto the Xbox to stream the Caps game on Monday).

Linux is good at a lot of things, but occasionally not things that the average computer user needs. You may find that you need to tinker “under the hood” just to get things that seem fairly basic working the way you want.

To add. This may be different in the newer Linux versions. The upside to Linux is all the power and control. The downside to Linux is all the power and control… You can easily make changes that a) make your computer (almost) unusable and b) are hard to undo. I would not recommend learning the ins and outs of Linux while in Africa and (potentially) without consistent, good internet.

This, so much this. I am fairly functional when it comes to computers. I have built my own and used Linux in the past. The control is amazing. You can do whatever you want, but you can also brick your computer with all that freedom. Also, you can do whatever you want, but none of it comes easily. There’s a steep learning curve with a lot of the builds (some are a lot more user friendly than others), but even with the approachable ones, at the end of the day, it’s an OS for experts. I’m sure I’ll catch flak for that, but what can I say, I like my computers to be predictable first and foremost and if user error is the cause of unpredictability, then maybe the system isn’t robust enough for me to use it.

I work as a Linux admin. If you’re not comfortable with the command line, or do not have reliable access to the internet for troubleshooting purposes, I would not recommend installing Linux for home use.

Definitely agree. People ask me how I learned so much about Linux and all I can say is, “I’m really good with Google.”

since we’re talking computers, recommendations for a gaming computer? I’d like a laptop that can handle mild gaming plus web browsing (Netflix, etc). Budget is definitely sub $1000 and cheaper the better but still considering how much I’m willing to pay for features.

I’ve been looking at Dell’s Inspiron 15 Gaming laptops, but other recommendations out there?

I’d also consider a gaming desktop and maybe a cheap web-browsing/netflix device

The Inspiron 15 gaming seems to be a great combo of specs and build quality. I was considering one but ended up giving up some gfx for portability and went with an XPS 13.

I had decent luck with a gaming laptop from Asus a few years ago but no recent experience.

Seriously though, for gaming you want a desktop. Far more capability for far less money, especially if you build it. And building computers nowadays is easy as can be. There’s websites that basically do it for you, show you what parts are compatible with what, and for how much. You buy them, click them together (everything is easy connectors now) and you’re done.

Agreed. You can build a gaming desktop and have enough left over for a fairly cheap laptop/tablet vs. buying a similarly-powered gaming laptop.

If you’re really concerned about the building process, there are places that’ll build them for you, that cost maybe $100 or so more than the components themselves.

Building a desktop 100% the way to go. And in a couple years if you want to upgrade, you can just get a new component instead of a new laptop/computer. I will never own another laptop.

See above discussion about desktops. If you decide you really need a gaming laptop, you should probably go for one that has the new Nvidia series of GPUs (GTX 10X0). For the first time ever they have made a full-powered mobile version of their desktop chips.

Surprised nobody else has mentioned them yet, but the Dell XPS series (XPS 13 and XPS 15) are powerful laptops with great screens, great touchpad, great CPU/RAM/SSD options and most importantly and great battery life. Basically the PC equivalent to MacBook Pro. (For $1000 less)

The downside is Win 10. But if you’re interested in convertibles like the Surface Pro, they’re going to be Win10 as well.

Note: I do not recommend the covertible XPS 13, but the ‘normal’ XPS 13 & 15 with QHD touchscreen are fantastic ‘regular’ laptops.

Also depending on your living arrangements and amount of travel you may want to invest in a ruggedized laptop like the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged which is shock, sand, dust and water-proof.

Did not think of the rugged aspect for this. Look into a pelican case backpack as well. Those things are indestructible.

And don’t forget a 1-4 TB external hard drive. You can partition for backup and extra space.

I am sure Dell has come quite a ways since, but my first (and only) Dell was the primary reason for my sprinting switch away from Windows towards Mac.

My company has run Mac since the 80’s, and bought me one when I joined. I bought a few personal PC’s to use at home over the years, the last few because the kids wanted it for gaming, but I will not get one again. I don’t game or run any big programs, but every PC I have ever owned had issues years before any Mac of the same age. Works much better for what I use it for.

Peace Corps specifically says NOT to bring tablets because we will need to have some office software programs in order to carry out some job duties.

For me, this tells me that you want to get an operating system and software that are compatible with what the Peace Corps uses.

Most computers today will give serve your basic needs, but compatibility is what will make your life easier. Though I have several macs and love them, if I were remote I’d opt for compatibility.

Second, install Skype and your internet browser of preference and do some practice sessions with family.

Get something that feels comfortable for you. There are many lightweight options available these days, and most are a lot more trouble-free than they used to be.

EDIT: Also note that the U.S., Britain, and the UN are currently considering banning laptops from being used on board international flights. Don’t know how that might affect your considerations, but just thought I’d mention it as something to be aware of.

As far as I’ve seen it’s been flights from Europe to the US only, (along with the existing middle East to US to US) and potential cabin ban would include tablets.

I want to thank everyone who chipped in. I really do appreciate all the great insight (and there is certainly plenty of useful info here). I can’t thank you all enough. I think we are going to opt for the surface pro (3 or 4) and just stick with windows 10. I am going to use my old PC to play around with Linux before we leave and when we return. It’s high time I get more familiar/comfortable with that OS. Excited about it!

You’re making a good choice. Those devices are generally palatable and pretty resilient. 3 will save you money, I’d recommend it over the 4 given your use case. Best of luck, when you have internet access, be sure to check in.

If you find anyone that can run a 4.2 40 then make sure you share. Talent acquisition is important!

Our planned return is August 2019. Hopefully, just in time for our 3rd National Title run.

Late to the party, but I just invested in the Dell XPS 13 9370 and I absolutely love it.

*sees year old thread gets resurrected.** Dammit, VPIhokieME is switching his commitment to TSL…