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Brewing Baristabook Brawl: Bamboo Beat-Down for the MacBook Air?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 10/31/2010

There's undeniable appeal to the small, sexy MacBook Air, but it's always been pricey for the power they offer. Can netbook PC leaders Asus bring sexy to their smallness? The bamboo Bamboo looks great, adds an eco-chic component, and should be able to clobber the Mac on performance to price ratio.

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    The Best Baristabook

    Looks are important to laptop users, but to some they are almost everything. Asus relies on a cross-branding deal with legendary sports car maker Lamborghini to turn out some gorgeous computers with prices to match. Three grand doesn’t just get you a beautiful leather bag, the notebooks themselves are adorned with leather features and contrasting stitching, and come in superbly painted yellow or black to carry through the automotive theme. Oh, and the notebooks perform well, too.

    The whole luxury car/big price tag thing might work for executives, but a $3000 dollar computer, branded to match a six figure gas guzzler, isn’t for everyone. Certainly not the hip and youthful crowd that jump all over Macs, anyhow. Asus wants in on that, much larger, market as well.

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    Asus Picks Wood as a Natural Solution

    Their solution is a truly radical piece of manufacturing and design. Their Bamboo laptops are made partly from, as one might guess, bamboo. The green element of using fast growing and easily renewable bamboo instead of plastics,to make a laptop is being hyped pretty hard, and it is a major innovation. But the real advantage is how cool looking it is. If part of the fun of owning a Mac is being different from the PC masses, this thing is completely unique. Literally: the wood grain is natural, and no two will be exactly alike. Expect it to include matching bag and peripherals.

    ASUS isn’t breaking the boundaries of reasonable pricing with this thing either. The base model of the U67 Bamboo has been on sale in Taiwan for the equivalent of 1800 USD for a couple months. Expect it to be just under 2 grand when it gets here

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    Battle of the Elements: Asus Bamboo U6V vs MacBook Air

    The MacBook Air, in $2000 trim, has 9400M graphics, while the Bamboo has 9300M, but that is where its advantages stop. Its processor at that price (which is the fastest available) is 1.86Ghz, a bit behind the Bamboo in base trim’s 2Ghz. The Mac comes with 2 GB of RAM, and that’s not price related: there’s no option to upgrade. The hard drive is a paltry 120GB and an ungainly 4.2k to the 160GB at 5.4k in the base Bamboo model. Of course, you can get a 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) for your Air… if you want to drop five hundred bucks. There are 250GB and 320GB HDD options for the Bamboo.

    With the same ports as the rest of Asus' U6 line, the Bamboo puts the Air to shame again. This includes four USB ports to one, HDMI instead of DisplayPort, and line-in audio, S/PDIF audio, Ethernet, and eSATA that are nowhere to be found on the Air. Then throw in stuff like the finger print reader and Asus’ habit of including a bag and mouse.

    With a comparable form factor and better performance and connectivity, for the same price as a MacBook Air, along with a radical yet relaxing appearance, the Bamboo line could do a lot for Asus as it tries to become one of largest notebook makers in the world. Not as much as the Eee PC, by a long shot, but cracking Mac’s appeal with the appearance- and eco-conscious crowd would be nothing to sneeze at.