A few years back, a friend of mine quipped that playing music on his computer was in essence turning an expensive computer into a lousy stereo. Well, times have certainly changed, and you can now play music with perfectly fine audio quality using your computer (or your iPod). But the camera in your Centrino laptop is likely to still be stuck in the place the sound card used to beit's probably a low quality digital camera, comparable to the one in your cell phone. No doubt, in time, this will change for the better. I fully expect, in the next few years, to see digital cameras bundled in mobile computers that are every bit as good as standalone cameras (although this will take some form factor engineering).
For right now, good enough will have to do, and it's fine for many uses. The typical digital camera built in to a mobile computer produces images with a maximum size of 640x480 pixels for a total final image size of about 300,000 pixels (or .3 megapixels). Obviously, this compares unfavorably with the current crop of consumer digital cameras, which routinely produce images from 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 pixels (2 to 4 megapixels) in size.
One of the key issues in taking pictures is being thereand having the camerato take the picture in the first place. Obviously, a 640x480 pixel camera built in to a cell phone or mobile computer is no substitute for a higher quality dedicated digital camera. However, the whole point of having a camera built in to a mobile computer is that you might not have a separate camera availableand don't need to lug around two devices to take the occasional, perfectly adequate picture.
For example, suppose that you are sitting in your local coffee shop surfing the Internet with your cool, little Centrino laptop when two attractive members of the opposite sex come up to admire your hot mobile machine. This actually happened to me recently. If you have a camera built in to your Centrino laptop, you can offer to take their picture. It probably wouldn't have the same impact if the camera weren't built in to the computer.
A little more seriously, think of all the times you have your mobile computer with you, but not a camera, and have seen something that you'd like to photograph as a visual record and reminder.