Windows 7 ultrathins still not hitting the true netbook sweet spot

Microsoft and Intel are pushing ultrathins as a way for both parties to make more money than they do on netbooks. But, to me, they're doing so by sacrificing one of the netbooks' biggest selling points: The small form factor.

At last week's Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting, CEO Steve Ballmer was touting "ultrathins" -- a new smaller than a laptop/pricier than a netbook -- category of PCs that will debut with Windows 7 as Microsoft's answer to netbooks.  Intel, the champion of the ultrathin concept, was talking them up, too, last week.

At last week's Intel Technology Summit in San Francisco, according to News.com, Intel execs shared more on the one-inch-thick, "sub-$1,000" ultrathin models coming out this fall. Intel officials said many of these machines will use its "Pine Trail" Atom design, which "will collapse the core chips onto one piece of silicon, improving the power efficiency and boosting performance," News.com reported. They'll also use Intel's laminar air flow technology to cool the machines'outer skin.

Update: Pine Trail isn't going to be in the ultrathins. My mistaken interpretation there. An Intel spokesperson sent the following correction: "Only netbooks are Atom-based, not ultra thin laptops. Our ultra thin laptops have processors including Core and Pentium."

Both Ballmer and Intel execs seem to be missing one of the main selling points of netbooks -- at least in my book. As much as lower price, I want portability. A thin 12- or 13-inch-screen PC is not what I want. It's too big to grab and go.

My current laptop has a 12-inch screen and weighs about 3 pounds. It is a good machine for everyday computing. I can't easily zip it into a protective cover and slip it into my purse or back pack -- like I can with, say, a Kindle 2 (but not the DX).

I'm OK with a 9- or 10-inch screen on a machine that is primarily for Web surfing, checking e-mail and dashing off a quick blog post or three. I'm willing to put up with a cramped QWERTY keyboard and a less powerful machine as a trade-off for something that is truly portable.

Microsoft and Intel are pushing ultrathins as a way for the Windows ecosystem participants to make more money than they do on netbooks.... oh, yeah, and to provide users with a better computing experience. But, to me, they're doing so by sacrificing one of netbooks' biggest selling points: The small form factor.

I am still interested in seeing and holding an ultrathin before ruling them out. But for now, I still want a Windows 7 netbook, not an ultrathin. You?