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Want a cheap Apple Mac? Wait for Windows

Like many tech-obsessed people, I'm fond of the netbook and its potential for keeping us productive in places we wouldn't normally take a regular laptop.

We've seen some attractive propositions this year in the wake of the first Eee PC - but none have really ticked all the boxes for this particular laptop lover.

The nearest was probably the MSI Wind, even though it missed the mark on a few points. First, it uses a regular hard-disk drive.

As of late 2008, if you want to keep a laptop affordable - and with a decent storage capacity - a cheap but very cheerful hard disk is still the way to go. But it's not great for durability when compared with solid-state disks.

Our other gripe is battery life. Less than 2.5 hours worth of juice simply isn't enough to rely upon to keep you company on the move. But now MSI has addressed the latter issue, and a few more besides, with its revised MSI Wind U100.

In October, Apple announced the successors to its MacBook line-up without a hint of a price drop. In fact, the entry-level price for its least expensive model has just gone up by £20. And if you want a taste of the proper milled-from-solid-brick Apple MacBook, instead of the ‘cheap' plastic hand-me-down version, you'll be looking at close to £950. Does Apple even know there's a financial crisis making the world go ‘wibble' right now?

Apple has long had a reputation for staking out the quality end of the market, with price tags that reflect the fact. When asked why Apple doesn't make a sub-£300 netbook, Steve Jobs reportedly answered that the firm simply doesn't know how to make something that cheap and keep the same quality. Lest we forget, though, Apple has some history near this end of the market, having priced the Mac mini - a base PC sans monitor, keyboard and mouse - at just £399.

Even if you don't care for Apple or its computers, it pays to keep an eye on what it's up to. History has shown that it's not only Microsoft but the Windows PC world at large who will be copying its ideas when they can get away with it. And that means Apple's innovation will be appearing, albeit in diluted, mass-market form, in a more affordable Windows laptop or PC before too long.

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