Apple’s press release for OS X Lion indicated that Apple would be offering a $69 Lion USB Install drive to customers that lack fast broadband connections. Apple has just now made this new drive available in the Apple Online Store.
The drive is different than the free OS X Lion Restore Key that AppleCare has been sending to customers that didn’t receive restore media with their Macs and are having difficulty restoring Lion after replacing their hard drive.
The drive is aimed at customers without fast broadband connections, and allows customers to install or restore Mac OS X Lion without any need for an internet connection. The only caveat is that those who use this USB drive to install Lion will not be able to use Lion’s internet-based recovery tools to restore their Mac, but instead must use this USB drive any time they need to reinstall or restore their Mac.
Apple has also released a free tool that will let you create a Lion USB restore key from any flash drive 1GB or larger, but as with the built-in Lion Restore partition, this requires an internet connection to download and install the latest version of Lion.