Ultrathin Linux PC Envy

I want; I mean I really want, an Apple MacBook Air. Mind you, I wouldn't kick a Lenovo ThinkPad X300 or Toshiba Portege R500 out of my hotel bedroom either. If you're a Mac or Windows user you've got several excellent top-of-the-line ultra-thin laptop choices. If you're a desktop Linux user, your choices aren't that great. So far.

Oh, there are excellent pre-installed Linux laptops. For a full-powered one I see it as almost being a coin-toss between the Lenovo R61 with SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10 SP 2 and the Dell 1420N. The quick and dirty on how to choose between them is that the Lenovo works extremely well with office network environments, especially those that use AD (Active Directory), while the Dell with commercial DVD-playback built-in is a better home user buy. One last thought on solid working Linux laptops: Dell will be moving to Ubuntu 8.04 any time now, so you may want wait a tick before buying one. Good machines and I paid my own money to get an R61, but these are not ultra-thin sexy laptops.

Of course, the entire UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) movement really got rolling because desktop Linux took out the single biggest cost - Windows - for OEMs. The PC vendors, in turn, realized that there were lots of people out there who wanted a good, cheap working laptop and that was not going to be anything that included Vista in it.

As good as Windows killing mini-laptops such as the Asus Eee and Everex CloudBook are, they're no-frills machines. They are great, and I mean great, at giving you the computing power you need for cheap, but stylish isn't a word that comes to mind when I think about them. That may be changing though.

Everex will be launching a new UMPC, the CloudBook Max, in the States this fall. It will run both XP Home, which the rise of desktop Linux forced Microsoft into keeping around, and, here's where it gets interesting gOS.

GOS is the Ubuntu-based Linux that puts its focus on making online applications from companies such as Google and MySpace at your fingertips. It's the operating system for the Web generation, where if a computer isn't online, it's not really being a computer.

That's we've seen before. But, the new CloudBook Max with its 1.6-GHz Intel Atom microprocessor; 512MB of RAM; 40GB hard drive; and, here's where it starts getting interesting, a full-sized keyboard, WiMax connectivity ; and up to a 10.2" display sounds like it might be not just a great practical laptop, but a really hot one-and I don't mean CPU temperature-as well.

And, unlike the other ultra-thin and ultra-hot laptops with their ultra-high prices -- MacBook Air: $1,799; Lenovo ThinkPad X300: $2,992 and Toshiba Portege R500: $2,149 - the CloudBook Mac with all dressed up and ready to roll will sell for around $500.

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