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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