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Chromebook for travelling (with backlit keyboard)


We are planning a family trip of two weeks and need a good laptop for general use while traveling. So, we are much interested in chromebook as they are cheap, easy to use and can handle all simple tasks required while traveling. There is just one special requirement - the chromebook should be with backlit keyboard so that we can use it easily while travelling. I have found two of the options from online sources - ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 and Acer Chromebook 514. Which one should we buy?


Posted by
5504 posts that we can use it easily while travelling.

You do realize that a Chromebook needs to be connected to the internet to work. This means you need a WiFi connection for the Chromebook to work.

That said, I travel with the lowest cost, smallest, lightest Acer with the 11" screen.

Posted by
4689 posts

Susan, the Asus obviously costs a bit more than the Acer. (I am comparing two that both have 4GB of RAM and 64GB flash memory for the OS;- Asus is $462.90, Acer is $391.53.) The Asus does have a much faster CPU than the Acer so it would be a little more responsive. And it's a "2-in-1" meaning you can flip the Asus over and flatten the keyboard, to make it kind of like a thick tablet. The Acer is just a standard laptop-style, not a tablet. So, you are getting more for the extra money if you buy the Asus.

The Acer does claim a 12 hour battery life though vs. "only" 10 hours with the Asus. I doubt you'll really know the difference - maybe on a long international flight, the extra two hours might matter. (In reality, both are probably less than advertised.)

One thing to watch out for with Chromebooks is that they have a specific end-of-life date for support, after which they cannot be upgraded (but you can keep using them). By contrast, Windows laptops do not generally have that problem; you could still install a free upgrade to Windows 10 of an old Windows 7 computer you bought ten years ago. (though it might be kind of slow with WIndows 10 - but at least you could.) Chromebooks are supported for about 6.5 years and then that's it - no more security updates, etc. Time to buy a new one. I don't know when each of these sees its end of support; Google is supposedly making that more clear now than they used to. More info here:

Chromebooks do support Android apps now, which is pretty cool. (Both Chromebooks and Android come from Google.)

Posted by
5019 posts

What tasks do you really need to accomplish with this Chromebook? And which of those tasks can't be just as easily accomplished with a small tablet?

The iPad Mini is all the "computer" almost anyone would ever need while traveling, is much smaller and much lighter than any Chromebook. The iPad Mini is, IMHO, the best bit of travel electronica ever developed. I'm a pretty serious gearhead, but no way would I lug anything like a laptop along on a trip (unless the office was paying for my trip and required me to use it...and I would first challenge what exactly I needed it for).

So it's a sincere question: why specifically do you really think you need a Chromebook?

"Because I just want one" is a perfectly valid reason, but perhaps not a logical one...

Posted by
23578 posts

not directly answering your question but a thought perhaps worth considering.

I have a Dell Inspiron 13 5000 which is a real laptop and I am on it probably 8 to 12 hours a day (I'm retired so I have plenty of work to do) which has a backlit keyboard. Seeing it light up is nice and friendly, and I have grown to like the feature (it is the first to have the feature of probably 8 or 9 laptops I've gone through since I stopped using the desktop heavy duty machine) but I don't think it would help me in a dark room or car or train. The lights go off after a short while of not typing to save energy and while they do show where every key is they don't show which keys they are - there is light under the keys but the keys are opaque and unless they have light shining on them (maybe turn up the screen brightness and tilt it down?) if you have to see the keys to type - I've touch typed since the 1960s so I don't really look at the keyboard but other need to see the keys - I'm not convinced the back lighting would help.

Are the keys on the ones you are looking at transparent? Will they still be after dirty or greasy fingers get to them?

The need for a Chromebook to be perpetually connected to the internet to do most tasks is a real one. That's difficult to guarantee on the road, and even some hotels with free wifi actually provide spotty or really slow wifi. I travel with this laptop and I had all sorts of problems with Skype meetings at two hotels in Germany last summer. I have a solution which works for me but probably wouldn't for you - I hotspot my iPhone to 4G and link to that. But I have a huge data plan on my phone and you may not want that, and you do need reliable 4g or 5g which is not everywhere, especially when in a moving vehicle.

Have you considered a tablet to meet your needs?

If you would like to share what you want to accomplish with the Chromebook, and how you want to use it, perhaps we could give more precise answers.

Posted by
52 posts

I have an older Acer CB3-111 Chromebook. It was purchased for a trip to Europe several years ago.
Small, lightweight and thin. At first I thought I would barely use it, but it has been so handy I really cannot imagine travel without it.

Posted by
16844 posts

For what it's worth (quite possibly nothing), I travel with an 8.4" tablet for months at a time. The only time I wish for a different device is when I'm posting on this very forum. I miss having a physical keyboard. But I'm just not willing to deal with the extra weight/bulk of a Chromebook or standard laptop.

I've had my share of hotels where the Wi-Fi was rather inconsistent, despite paying a great deal of attention to that subject when I read reviews.