When deciding between a Mac or a PC laptop to take traveling there is no competition: PCs are by far the most versatile, internationally serviceable, and cheapest option.
If I have a problem with my $200 Compaq PC netbook I go outside of wherever I’m staying, walk two or three blocks to the local computer repair shop, and saunter on in. The guy behind the counter will then pop my laptop open, run a diagnostics check, and do repairs or replace parts for a nominal fee. If I want to buy software for my PC I walk into the nearest internet cafe and pay a dollar for a knock off version. If I need a general part — like a cord or new keys — I go into any computer shop and buy it over the counter. Life is simple and cheap traveling with a PC in the digital age.
But if I had a Macbook life would not be so easy.
First of all, I would have had to pay drastically more money just to get a Mac laptop. Secondly, I would only be able to get the computer serviced at an “officially licensed Apple repair shop” that will charge me USA prices for even looking at thing. Hmm, where’s the nearest Apple store from Ulaanbaatar? How about from Chiapas, Mexico? Namibia? Forget about it. If something goes wrong with your Mac on the road you’re more than likely looking at a journey in and of itself just to get it fixed.
Wes of Johnny Vagabond just faced the Macbook repair hurdle in Mexico.
List of global Apple service centers. Yes, most of the countries in the world are missing from this list.
In the name of transparency, I have to admit that I have a chauvinism against the Apple corporation. They are perhaps the only tech company in the world that can make Microsoft look good. I can’t say how many times I’ve stared at people in disbelief as they’ve told me that Apple shut down their device because they didn’t install the latest version of some program. What, they can do that? I don’t know how many times I’ve laughed in a Mac user’s face when they tell me that they have to go to a special and expensive, officially licensed store to get their machine serviced. Really? Are you kidding me? You can’t just go over to Juan Paco’s tienda and get it looked at?
I’m not going to pay to be controlled by a corporation, no matter how cool and trendy they’re marketed to be. I’m pragmatic when it comes to travel gear, I want the most versatile equipment at the best price. My computer gear costs very little to buy, almost nothing to get serviced, and I can purchase software and parts for it on every corner of the globe. I have no idea why anybody would choose to travel with something that they pay more money for that is often very difficult or even impossible to get serviced in most places in the world.
So I often ask Mac users why they prefer their machines over PCs? I’m curious here, I think I may be missing something. But what many tell me is the stale old line about how Macs are good for making multimedia productions and graphic design. Ok, cool, so I understand why film makers, musicians, and graphic artists use them, but 99 out of 100 Mac users I’ve met are not using their machines for these purposes: they are running their Macs the same as any PC using hick.
I don’t get it.
Traveling with a Mac and Apple products is like driving a car around the world that nobody can fix and you must order parts for from afar. Your fancy “Ithis” or “Ithat” may look slick and suave in the coffee houses of Seattle, but out here on the road many Apple users find themselves broken down and stranded in the middle of a proverbial desert without a service station for hundreds and hundreds of miles. This is not a situation I advise anyone to wantonly put themselves in.
When choosing complex travel gear it is always best to get the same brand and type that people use locally where you’re traveling. You want to be using stuff that can be fixed and re-provisioned with parts in as many places in the world as possible. When looking for a computer, I recommend Acer PCs for the simple reason that they are sold just about everywhere in the world. So if you ever have a problem with it you can rest assured that the local computer tech has probably seen your machine many times before and knows what to do. Asus and Compaq are two other low price PC brands that are also internationally versatile.
These PC laptops are great for travel. They’re cheap: if one of these computers last for a year, you got more than your money’s worth. They’re repairable: if you have to get one of these computers serviced, you can do so at any tech repair shop. They’re versatile: if you need to replace a power supply cord or want to buy software, you can do so nearly anywhere. They’re not overtly valuable: if someone holds you up and gun point and demands you to hand it over, you can do so without reservation. They’re replaceable: if you spill your beer on the keyboard and fry the motherboard, well, you can just walk over to the nearest computer shop and replace it without it wiping out your travel budget.
I can’t say this for Macs.
So unless you are doing some heavy lifting in the graphic design, music, or film making departments leave the Macbook in Seattle, when traveling internationally pick up a PC netbook and enjoy the fruits of versatility, choice, serviceability, and a very low price.
Shop for the PC netbooks we recommended
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