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Ultralights: The real, the deal, and the appeal

Dismiss Foleo if you will, the Windows camp has been quick to respond to the need for ultralights. Today Engadget posted news of the 2.4 lb. 12.1″ Toshiba Portege R500 (with optical drive), the 1.9 lb. VIA NanoBook, and the 2 lb. Asus Eee (rhymes with “fee”).

Not surprisingly, the more impressive their departure in terms of today’s size/price ratios, the further away from reality they seem. The R500 is an evolution of today’s Windows laptops, and has the typical premium price tag that goes along with them of $2,000. While VIA has announced that Packard Bell will offer its version of the NanoBook in Europe, it has yet to name its U.S. vendor (but claims it has one), and the Eee is little more than a concept at this point, although one too good to be true starting at $200.

So, despite the NanoBook’s somewhat unorthodox design with its oddly placed USB module, it will definitely vie with the Foleo for my take-anywhere ultraportable. Palm has been very quiet about Foleo’s specs; I wonder how hackable it will be and whether Palm will turn a blind eye to that. With no service revenue to protect, it should. Documents-to-Go is a great way to view Office files, but it’s no OpenOffice, and I wonder whether the coming generation of “hybrid” Web sites that can also work offline will be compatible with Opera; Firefox will likely be supported first.