Netbooks continue to surprise with their innovation, increasing diversity and cheapness. So what was Sony thinking of when it came up with the new Vaio P-series?

In fact, despite its small size the Vaio P-series is not a netbook at all, and rather more resembles an older and now defunct marketing concept known as a UMPC (ultra-mobile PC), invented by Microsoft and Intel circa 2006 to sell small (but not necessarily cheap) laptops.

Built around the 1.33GHz version of Intel's rather puny Atom chip, The Vaio-P comes with a modest 60Gb of hard disk space (or an SSD if you want) and 2Gb of RAM. More impressively, it comes with built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, mobile broadband capability, and doubtless excellent battery life.

But if you want one in the UK, you can buy one for a staggering £850, more than even many decent laptops, and three times what many true netbooks are selling for.

That's for a computer with an 8-inch screen (most people agree that 10 inches is the entry point for use by most adults), and 2GB of RAM to run Vista. Yes, they put Vista on a small computer, which partly explains the high cost.

They might as well have held the launch party in a museum, because as lovely as it looks, this baby is already obsolete.

Asus, makers of the Eee-PC which crested the whole category meanwhile, shows us the true nature of innovation by putting a fully-functional netbook computer in a keyboard. It even has the tablet-like netbook, the T91, and the extraordinary Fold/Unfold concept in which two laptops (or netbooks) near to one another could share computer resources.

And if you really want a nice-looking netbook with a range of added features such as aluminium case, how about the HP Mini 2140? Prices for that will start at $499 (approx £340)?

Sony obviously believes that they future will be much like the past. Small computers have to be over-engineered and expensive. I suspect in a year when the humble netbook could take over a portion of the market, Sony's sales figures could yet prove how painfully wrong they have been with this one.