Walt Mossberg

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Getting a Charge in Europe

Q:

Is there a laptop or an Internet-capable Wi-Fi tablet sold in the U.S. that has compatibility with the European electrical system?

A:

In my experience, most major brands of laptops and tablets sold in the U.S. also work on the standard European electrical systems without the need for a power converter. I have charged a U.S.-bought iPad in several European countries. You will likely need an adapter for the prongs on the charger plug and you should double check the label on the charger or the device itself to make sure it can handle 110 to 240 volts and both 50 and 60 Hz.

Q:

I just had to swap out a three-month-old Toshiba Portege z935 laptop because the screen cracked despite being carried in a sleeve and padded backpack. To a road warrior like me, durability is perhaps more important than battery life. I need a lightweight but solid computer. Do you suggest a MacBook Air as a more durable option?

A:

Every laptop can be broken, including Apples, and I haven’t directly compared the MacBook Air with your Portege. However, I regard the Air as very rugged for a thin, light laptop. It has a unibody aluminum design which in my experience holds up very well, even when you don’t carry it in any special case. And it uses only solid-state storage, not a hard disk, so there are no moving parts that could break. I should note Toshiba just came out with the Kirabook, made of a magnesium alloy it says is much stronger than the Air’s aluminum. However, the new Toshiba costs more, and has much weaker battery life.

Write to Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.


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