Ultraportable Olidata Conte is Latest Contender to MacBook Air's Throne

Olidata's Conte has just been shown for the first time, and it looks like a serious competitor to the MacBook Air class of ultra-portables. Check it out: Skinny aluminum case, 13-inch screen, back-lit keyboard with chicklet-style keys, oh and built-in 3G broadband capability.

That's neat and certainly trounces Apple's offering, even if it's an option rather than standard. There's even the choice of a WiMax card instead, if you live in one of the areas blessed with that super-slick wireless data service.

The screen will come in two flavors: a 16:10 1280x800-pixel version, and one with a 16:9 1366x768-pixels, but both are 13.3-inches and LED-lit. Inside there's a small form-factor Core2 Duo (just like the Air) and a missing optical drive—the space has been taken up with an extra-large battery that apparently gives four hours of life (and there's an extended battery that'll give you seven in total, beating Apple's 4.5 hours easily.) That minimalist design theme continues to the ports: The machine has just one USB socket, audio jack, HDMI (which the Air lacks) and a proprietary connector that joins to a port replicator. This adds back a couple of USB sockets, VGA out and a LAN network socket.

While the 16:9 version has 1GB of RAM, and traditional hard drive, the top-end 16:10 one will have Intel Turbo memory up to 3GB, a fingerprint reader and optional solid-state drives.

The Italian-made machine really does seem to have the MacBook air in its sights. It's just 2.18cm thick and 1.6Kg (versus the 1.94cm and 1.36Kg Air) and when they go on sale in May both models will cost "under €1,000" which is around a full $500 less than the Air at $1,800.

Despite not running Apple's lauded OS X, on paper it almost looks like a better machine.

[Notebook Italia via Engadget]

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