The secret of the £299 laptop - how do they do it?

"Over time the specifications will improve and the perceived boundary between laptops and netbooks will disappear completely in the eyes of the consumer." A good point, but is it good for the laptop industry? Samsung previously expressed a 'wait and see' attitude to the netbook, but is now known to be releasing one.

Finding the balance

So what about £299 as a 'sweet spot?' After all, the price point is all about the buyer: "It's really a case of pay your money and take your choice. You can't expect an all-singing all-dancing spec for £200," says Marketing Consultant and Sales Expert Sean McPheat.

"Only at the weekend I was helping my mother-in-law to select a laptop at Staples and we found one that was £275. 'What do you need it for?' I asked and she said 'Just basic surfing, emailing and writing letters.' Why would she need a £500+ laptop when a £200 limited spec laptop will do?

The £299 price point is, after all, satisfying an end of the market where people are buying laptops for very basic tasks. Interested in gaming and media, and you'll need to spend more. Interested in portability, you'll need to spend more. "The different price points depend on who the laptop is intended for and what they need it for," continues McPheat. "There are different price points for everything nowadays so it's a case of weighing up the price and the value you get for your money."

Indeed, it's probably just the case that the £299 laptop is following every other commodity item. Whether it's a race to the bottom is, however, up for debate.

Maybe we won't actually buy our laptops in the future. "From my point of view, the notebook in the future will be bundled in with a package such as Broadband/mobile and a notebook and you will just pay a monthly subscription fee," adds Azeem.

"Carphone Warehouse is already bundling an 18-month contract with broadband and a free notebook, and I'm sure we will see [many others] doing the same."