Best Portable Laptops for Satellite Internet

Get the best laptops to use with satellite internet.

Best overall laptopBest portable MacBest portable gaming laptopBest 2-in-1 laptopBest laptop under $500
ModelDell XPS 13MacBook AirRazer Blade 15Microsoft Surface Pro 7Acer Aspire 5
Screen size13.3"13.3"15.6"12.3"15.6"
Processor Intel Core i7Intel Core i5Intel Core i7Intel Core i5AMD Ryzen 3
Battery life9 hrs.12 hrs. 6 hrs. 10.5 hrs. 7.5 hrs.
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$
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Bottom line

Overall, the Dell XPS 13 is the best portable laptop. It offers strong performance and battery life, a solid keyboard and display, and it’s one of the most compact laptops around for its screen size.

But if you need a portable laptop for something more specific like gaming, consider some of our other recommended options.

Dell XPS 13: Best overall laptop

Thumbs Up Pros

  • Compact, highly portable design
  • Excellent display and keyboard
  • Speedy performance

Thumbs Down Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Expensive price

The Dell XPS 13 has been one of the best laptops on the market for years. It packs a gorgeous display, satisfying keyboard, and fast performance into a compact package that makes it easy to pack up and go, whether that’s to your RV or your back porch.

The battery life isn’t the longest on the market (you’ll get more battery life with the MacBook Air), but it’s long enough to last you all day, so you can take it where you need to go and recharge at night.

Previous versions of this laptop had an awkward webcam placement that was right below the screen, but they changed that with the latest versions. The camera is now located in the proper place (above the display), making the XPS 13 about as close to perfect as a laptop can get.

MacBook Air: Best portable Mac

Thumbs Up Pros

  • Gorgeous display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Best-in-class trackpad

Thumbs Down Cons

  • Funky keyboard
  • Mediocre performance

The updated MacBook Air is a slim and light laptop that looks great (we’re partial to the Space Gray model, but the new Gold color is spiffy too). It features a beautiful Retina display and a trackpad that makes other laptops jealous. It’s also the most affordable Apple laptop currently available, which makes this slick machine more in reach than its siblings.

The compact design, long battery life, and clear display make it great for watching movies on the road. It’s got advanced speakers too (for a laptop at least).

We’d highly recommend springing for a model with more storage than the base 128 GB—or just buying an external hard drive to make up the difference. With such a long battery life and a slick design, the Apple engineers had to cut down on something, and it turned out to be internal memory.

Razer Blade 15: Best portable gaming laptop

Thumbs Up Pros

  • Powerful graphics performance
  • Outstanding display
  • Cool design

Thumbs Down Cons

  • High price
  • Relatively short battery life

The Razer Blade 15 is one of the most powerful and portable gaming laptops on the market. The screen’s color accuracy is hard to beat, and it can be configured with a refresh rate up to 240Hz for smooth performance.

The best part is that the Razer Blade manages to retain the size of a traditional 15-inch laptop, whereas most other gaming machines are huge and bulky. This makes it great for a quick gaming session in the library, at your friend’s house, or even in the camper. Just watch out for that ping rate if you’re gaming online using satellite internet.

The major downside of a gaming laptop versus a more traditional device is battery life: the powerful processors in these machines eat batteries for breakfast. If you’re looking for an all-purpose laptop for use on the road, this may not be the best choice.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7: Best laptop for travel

Thumbs Up Pros

  • Extremely portable design
  • Great performance
  • Flexible usage options

Thumbs Down Cons

  • Smaller screen than traditional laptops
  • Keyboard cover sold separately

If you want portability and flexibility, the Surface Pro is hard to beat. This device is actually a tablet with a keyboard cover that lets it double as a laptop. But unlike the iPad Pro and other similar devices, the Surface Pro is an actual PC with a full Windows operating system, meaning it can do anything a laptop can do (and then some).

If you want a fully functional laptop that’ll fit almost anywhere (like a cramped suitcase), a two-in-one like the Surface Pro is your best bet.

Acer Aspire 5: Best laptop under $500

Thumbs Up Pros

  • Very affordable price
  • Good portability for the price

Thumbs Down Cons

  • Relatively poor battery life
  • Poor performance compared to more expensive options

If you’re looking for portability on a budget, the Acer Aspire 5 is for you. The 15.6-inch screen is big enough to stream movies and TV shows without missing out on key details. And the keyboard gets the job done without complaints.

The main disadvantage of the Aspire 5 is performance: it won’t hold a candle to devices like the Razer Blade or Dell XPS 13. Of course, at one-fifth the price, you wouldn’t really expect it to. In fact, the performance-to-price ratio is actually really good.

What to look for in a laptop

Shopping for a laptop can be confusing. Here are a few of the most important features to look out for.

Display

Size

Most laptops come with either 13.3-inch or 15.6-inch screens. The 13-inch option is a lot more portable, but it may be too cramped for intensive work or gaming. A 15-inch laptop offers more real estate at the expense of size and weight. Choosing a size comes down to whether you’ll mostly be using the device at a desk or on the go.

Resolution

Aim for at least 1080p (Full HD) resolution on whatever laptop you choose. This will give you a better experience watching videos, and text will appear sharper. Many laptops are available with higher resolution displays—even up to 4K—you’ll just pay for it with a shorter battery life.

Pro tip:

 If you’re going to be gaming on your laptop, take a look at the refresh rate of the display. Higher refresh rates make for a smoother gaming experience. The Razer Blade 15 can have up to a 240Hz refresh rate.

Processor

The processor in your laptop impacts performance. Most computers use Intel processors, and we’d recommend looking for a model with a Core i5 or Core i7 processor for the best performance.

That’s not to say other options are bad: AMD makes solid processors as well. But the Intel Core series is the gold standard for performance and battery life.

Battery life

Look for a laptop with at least seven hours of battery life to ensure you can make it through the day without a charge.

The major exception is portable gaming laptops: these are really meant to be used plugged in—it’s hard to find one that can get far without that. The powerful processors and demanding games melt battery life otherwise.

Storage

If you’re planning to use your laptop in situations with slower-than-average internet, like many satellite plans, local storage is crucial. Downloading your music, movies, and other media so they’re ready to go can make your experience much better—just make sure you have room to store them.

Pro tip:

We’ve listed the laptops in this guide in their default configurations, but most of them can be upgraded to higher storage amounts at the time of purchase. You can also consider purchasing an external hard drive, which is usually a cheaper option than paying for more storage in your laptop. 

Our final take

The Dell XPS 13 is the all-around best portable laptop for most uses. Even though it’s one of the most portable laptops you’ll find, it still manages to pack plenty of power and battery life.

Laptops and satellite internet FAQ

What’s the best portable gaming laptop?

The best portable gaming laptop is the Razer Blade 15. It offers the best overall balance of portability and power. Although you’ll still want to keep it plugged in while you’re gaming—especially if your gaming session will last more than a few hours—it’s compact enough to take it where you want to go. 

What’s the best ultraportable laptop?

If maximum portability is all you really care about in a laptop, we recommend a Surface Pro 7. It gives you the size of a tablet with the performance of a laptop. 

Is satellite internet portable?

Satellite internet can be portable, but you can’t take a residential connection like Viasat or HughesNet with you. You’ll have to look into other options like a hotspot, satellite phone, or mobile satellite terminal. Read our guide to portable satellite internet to learn more.

Can I stream with satellite internet?

You can stream with satellite internet as long as your connection is at least 3 Mbps or faster, but be prepared to experience some latency that might manifest as buffering. 

You’ll also need to keep an eye on your data cap. Streaming video can use up data quickly, and satellite internet plans tend to have lower data caps than land-based connections.

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