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Hands-on with an Apple Mac netbook

We stick Mac OS X on an MSI Wind

There's no doubt that netbooks are the current hot trend. However, Apple hasn't yet produced one. The web maybe awash with rumours of the possibility of a Mac netbook, but we can't wait to see if one appears. Instead we created on our own, in a bid to imagine what an Apple netbook might feel like.

Why Apple won't do it

While part of me wishes that Apple would build a £350 laptop, a design more in keeping with the white iBook or 12in PowerBook G4, I just can't see it happening. Not only are the low-cost, low-margin, and ultimately low-quality products simply not Apple's style, but the company has a much better alternative - a device based on the iPhone operating system.

Apple iPhone 3G review

Imagine something roughly twice the width and length of the current iPod and iPhone display, which would make the device approximately 8.5x8in (roughly the size of an Amazon Kindle), compared to the Wind's 10.2x7in. And of course, it would probably be less than half an inch thick, compared to the Wind's tapered 0.75 to 1.25in thickness.

Such a device wouldn't have a built-in keyboard, but there would be more room for a mega version of the iPhone's touchscreen keyboard. And perhaps we'd also finally see the iPhone OS support Bluetooth keyboards, which would let you use a full-sized keyboard if you wanted.

Someone could even make a nifty keyboard-with-hinge that would essentially turn that device into a more laptop-like creature. And presumably third-party developers would be able to add all sorts of different apps to the device via the App Store, just as they can today on the iPhone.

Here's the catch: the current 16GB iPod touch costs £219, that's just £50 less than the cost of the MSI Wind. What would a mega-touchscreen Apple device cost? At least £400, I'm guessing. But as I've said repeatedly, Apple's not in the business of making the cheapest products possible. And would a £400 iPhone OS-based tablet netbook sell? You know, I think it would.

I'm glad I spent my time with my parallel-universe MacBook Mini. And I have to admit, I do wish Apple would make a smaller, cheaper laptop in the same vein (but a little bit better). But I just don't think it'll ever happen. That's why we're far more likely to see a touchscreen in our future than a tiny, cramped keyboard.

Laptop buying advice

See also: Steve Jobs 'wrong' on netbook sales

  1. We convert an MSI Wind to get an idea
  2. MacBook Mini from Earth-U100
  3. You get what you pay for
  4. Why we can't live without Apple's trackpad
  5. So what if it were made by Apple?
  6. Why Apple won't do it

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