How many of you have travelled to South America with a laptop? I'm not too concerned with weight or size as it is 1kg, but more so on security of it in hostels.
I'll be using it for internet, storing photos, music to mp3 player etc.
Also is there many places with free wireless internet in South America?
Buenos Aires, central and tourist areas has WI-Fi free services...
If you want to rent an apartment or check if the hotel has this service ask for "Banda ancha"
Around avenida de Mayo (downtown) for example there is a notable and historic bar offering this free service as other at town.
About security, Hotels are safe
Security in hostels, as everywhere else on the planet I've ever been to, is pretty lousy to non-existent. Bringing a laptop is too much of a hazard to me, even more because there's internet places on every streetcorner. To play music, better bring a cheap, brandless mp3 player. That said, the availability of wireless (at least in Argentina and Chile) is quite good.
I traveled for a year around South America with a very small laptop (Sony Picturebook). I'm happy to say I brought it home with me.
Here's what I did to keep it safe. I mainly used it to store digital photos and journal, and swap music with friends. I usually stayed in dorm rooms, but once in awhile I'd get a single room and I'd spend several hours catching up on my journal entries.
I NEVER took it out in public. I NEVER took it out in the hostal living room. I NEVER took it to an internet cafe. Basically, no one knew I had it and that's just how I liked it. As someone else alluded to, hostals are not secure, and as much as we'd like to think, dorm roommates are not to be trusted. When I wanted to e-mail photos, I put them on a "thumb drive" flash memory device and easily plugged it into an internet cafe computer to transfer photos to upload.
I traveled with a "PackSafe" and I locked up my entire backpack when I left my things in a dorm room (a bit of a pain, but I NEVER had anything stolen from me
I hope these thoughts help you travel safely with your laptop. I loved having mine, and I think it's entirely possible to travel with it.