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Apple Flash buying clout will give it the ultrabook edge

MacBook Airs set to be CHEAPER than rival kit

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Apple may well have the price advantage when so-called "ultrabooks" debut later this year.

Intel announced the ultrabook notion - a very, very skinny laptop based on its chip tech - in June. Computer makers were quick to say they'll be delivering such machines later this year.

They will arrive effectively a year after Apple revamped its MacBook Air line with svelte 11.6in and 13.3in models, both as near as darnit ultrabooks.

But with their SSDs and Sandy Bridge chips - added earlier this month - the Apples will be among the priciest of the crop?

Not necessarily. For a start, even Asus is saying it won't be able to charge under $1000 if it goes for Core i5 and i7 CPUs as Apple has done, the Taipei Times reports.

With higher-end CPUs and big SSDs, prices could hit $2000, the company added.

Not only that, we'd add, but Apple is one of the world's biggest consumers of Flash chips, primarily for iPhones, iPods and iPads, but no doubt increasingly for laptop SSDs. It can use volume purchasing to get low, low prices other manufacturers can't match.

No Airs have hard drive options, and the anticipated 15in and 17in ultra-slimline MacBooks are expected to be SSD-based too.

Bottom line: Apple is in a stronger position than most other computer vendors to spread SSDs throughout its product range and keep the price down - not too far, mind; Apple doesn't want to lose its laptops 'premium' status - the better to compete with rival products that will look a lot like its Air family. ®

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