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Who Says Netbooks Are Cheap?

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Who cares if Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is targeting Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) with what will likely be a free or very cheap open-source netbook operating system? Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) thinks you should pay up for quality when it comes to netbooks, pricing its first model at a relatively expensive $630, Computerworld reports.

To be fair, this price is based on the current exchange rate of dollars to yen. Sony's new Vaio W will sell for 60,000 yen locally, roughly equal to what Toshiba and Fujitsu charge for netbooks sold in Japan, but more expensive than imports from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) and Acer, according to Computerworld.

Even so, Sony is positioning its netbook as a higher-end model. The new Vaio boasts a high-resolution screen and an oversized touchpad, making the device more closely resemble a traditional laptop.

Perhaps NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) product manager Rene Haas was right after all. "You might as well call them notebooks, because that's what they are," Haas said in June, referring to the underlying horsepower of netbooks based on his company's chips.

But Haas may as well have been speaking to a broader industry trend, one in which netbooks stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their larger peers -- and occasionally steal sales from them. Sony apparently hopes to profit from this shift, and it's pricing the Vaio W accordingly.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is best enjoyed with a bottle of fine wine and tasty returns.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (0)

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  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2009, at 3:35 PM, fanboy1013 wrote:

    Sony has always had pricier, small sized notebooks, long before the netbook era began. If it's pricier, than say, $400-500, I don't believe the industry categorizes it as a netbook! I believe the term for these are subnotebook/ultraportable/UMPC (ultra-mobile PC).

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2009, at 3:53 PM, TMFMitten wrote:

    So I guess this is different from the Vaio P series? I was thinking about getting one of those, until I realized I could get a conventional notebook PC for less than half the price.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2009, at 4:13 PM, jslug54 wrote:

    I don't think its fair to compare the selling price in yen in Japan to potential selling price in dollars in America. If they really introduced a netbook for 630 bucks in America they wouldn't sell any!

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2009, at 4:38 PM, jsl4980 wrote:

    Who says netbooks are cheap? The companies who are successfully selling them. Which includes everyone buy Sony.

    Sony has an awesome track record at setting price points. Who says video game consoles are cheap? Not Sony, and look, they're so far behind Nintendo and Microsoft that it's not even funny.

    Now they're continuing their awesome trend to the bottom by overpricing a product in a category that is only popular because of low prices. Way to go Sony!

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