You tell me, techies. Like everyone else, I dig the idea: Cloud computing, no more hard drives, total portability, nothing in your hands but a window onto the galaxy of information in which we now reside. That’s all super, but what does it give me that my iPad doesn’t? A real keyboard plus a guarantee that I won’t lose my data even if I lose the laptop (I’ve never lost a laptop), and … anything else? When I first saw the video below, I figured they must be selling it ridiculously cheap in order to give it an irresistible price advantage over the iPad. And it is cheaper, but not by as much as I would have thought. Samsung’s WiFi/3G Chromebook retails for $499; Acer’s slightly smaller version goes for $349. A 16GB WiFi/3G iPad will run you $629 or, if you’re happy with WiFi-only, a mere $499. Is that enough of a price break on the Chromebooks to erase the cachet that the iPad’s established? My hunch is “no” but I’m willing to be persuaded. Apparently Google initially priced the Chromebook in the $199-299 range, which would have made it formidable, but the price has risen to the point where PC Mag is now running features like this. Alas.

Presumably the Chromebook is a solid pick if you’re using lots of Google applications already. If not, then maybe not. Why am I wrong?