Lightweight traveling at CES

Getting work done at a large trade show is never easy, especially if you don't (or can't) carry too much with you.


My colleague Eric Grevstad recently wrote a column in which he described how to take your home office on the road. While I have great respect for Eric’s expertise, and don’t disagree with what he recommends, I would put forward the argument that there is one aspect of business traveling that he doesn’t address.


When I travel, especially for business, I try to travel as light as possible -- especially as far as my day-to-day tech is concerned. As somebody with not a lot of upper-body strength, when I’m attending a trade show such as, say, CES (from which I’ll be reporting starting Monday), I need to minimize the amount of weight I’m carrying around

So I’m always trying to figure out how to get the most computing power I can reasonably stow in my backpack. My work system, a 13-in. MacBook Pro, weighs in at about 3.5 lb. -- not backbreaking, but I’d probably be popping a lot of aspirin at day’s end. In addition, while it’s fairly slim, it still takes up a bit of room in my smaller backpack -- the one that I’m taking in order to comply with this year’s security rules at CES.

In such circumstances, an extra pound can make all the difference. Last year, my go-to travel system was a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, weighing in at 2.4 lb. (and thin enough to take up a lot less space). It worked well for the purpose (even though it was still struggling with Windows 8.1 at the time), and I was originally planning to take it with me this year as well. Until I managed to knock it off a desk.

So this year, keeping in mind that there may be some hard knocks ahead for whatever system I take with me, I’m going to go with a Chromebook -- something lightweight, low-cost and hopefully useful enough to be able to do all my note-taking, article-writing and CMS-wrangling over the week of CES. Although our own JR Raphael puts the Dell Chromebook 13 at the top of his list of Chromebook recommendations, I decided against that one for a simple reason: At about 3.2 lb., it isn’t all that much lighter than my MacBook.

Instead, I’ve decided to go with the Acer Chromebook R 11. At a reasonable 2.7 lb., it should keep the experience from being too painful. And a bonus for me, as somebody who has become used to using the touch screen on the Surface Pro 3, is that the Acer is a convertible that comes with a touch display.

With any luck, that, together with several cloud-based apps, should keep me productive during the upcoming madness. If it doesn’t -- well, I’ll find out soon enough.

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