Before the Asus Eee came to market or the first Macbook Air appeared in public, those who wanted absolute portability without sacrificing too much on features or performance had only a few highly priced options, many of which still exist today. I was one of those tempted by the 11" Vaio T line a few years back, with a single core low-power Intel CPU, 2GB RAM, built-in DVD recorder, one of the first LED screens that made it to market and a very respectable 7-hour battery uptime. I paid in excess of $2,500 for the little state of the art machine.

Today you can get more or less the same functionality and portability sans the optical drive and A+ quality screen for less than $500 in a netbook.

Nonetheless, the performance ultra-portable segment still exists today. Depending where you look, most manufacturers have followed suit to the MacBook Air proposition, offering screens in the 12-13" range and boasting a very low profile and weight. Again, depending where you look, you will end up paying no less than $1,600 for an ultra-portable that does not belong to the netbook category, and like CNET discovered, most of the time you will pay considerably more and in certain cases it will be for outdated hardware.

Do you think netbooks cannibalized the ultra-portable segment? And have you had any recent buying experiences for either type of machine? It will be interesting to know what was your take on what to buy.