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Apple OS X Lion USB drive out now for ridiculous £55

Apple's bootable thumb drive installer for OS X Lion is for those without access to the Mac App Store. But why does it cost so much?

Apple's OS X Lion is now available on a thumb drive for users without broadband -- at a wallet-bleeding £55.

Most Mac users have been downloading their Lion upgrade straight from the Mac App Store, but Apple recognises some folk just aren't online yet.

The obvious lack of audience for this product might explain the stratospheric price for the USB solution, which in any other context would literally be as cheap as chips. After all, the Lion installer download is less than 4GB. That's barely a fiver's worth of flash storage, but the difference between the Lion thumb drive and its £21 downloadable counterpart is a whopping £34.

If you fall in the disconnected camp of people -- probably because you're actually camping -- we've got two things to say. First, thanks for finding a way to access CNET UK from the Pennines. We applaud your sense of priority. Second, there's a cheaper way to get yourself a Lion installer without having to explain to your partner why you've just sold the telly.

Here's our guide to creating a Lion boot disc in which you'll find out how to make your own USB Lion installer. It specifies using a DVD, but it'll work perfectly well with a formatted USB stick. Alternatively, download the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant, which builds a replica of the bootable partition which installs as part of Lion -- helpful in those rare hard-drive emergencies.

If you're wondering why Apple went all USB on us rather than offering its traditional DVD, it's because it's shying away from installing optical drives in its new products. The result is beautifully slim laptops such as the new MacBook Air, and there's even rumours that an ultra-slim MacBook Pro could be with us by Christmas. Yum.