Steve Jobs has famously dissed netbooks. But on the surface at least, the new 11.6-inch MacBook Air ultraportable looks like a netbook--albeit an extremely sexy one.
Asus, Dell, HP, and others have introduced netbooks with 11-inch and, in a few cases, 12-inch screens. These netbooks typically weigh about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds; the MacBook Air 11-incher weighs 2.3 pounds. Netbooks have long battery life, often up to 7 or 8 hours; Apple's 11-inch ultraportable reportedly gets up to 5 hours (says Apple).
This is where the comparisons mostly end. For instance, most netbooks use hard drives for storage and cost $300 to $600. Apple's new MacBook Air laptops use flash drives for storage. Prices start at $999 and go up to $1199 or more for the 11-inch models.
More to the point, the 11-inch MacBook Air presents Apple fans who are frequent travelers with a new quandry: Travel with an iPad (and perhaps a physical keyboard) or an 11-inch MacBook Air? I suspect the answer for many Apple fanboys and girls will be: Both. And I can't say I'd blame them.