Amazon Kindle vs. ASUS EEE

Let’s get one thing straight. There is no other option for most people in the world as Amazon Kindle is only available in the US and its always-on internet connection is only available in the US.

For those living in the US, there is now a clear option to buy an ASUS EEE secondary laptop or an Amazon Kindle. EEE versions based on Microsoft XP are a recent addition to the family; until then, both the Kindle and the EEA ran on Linux-based operating systems.

The Kindle is a dedicated machine with a few extras. The Kindle is designed to be the reader for your e-books purchased from Amazon. You’ll get a discount on eBooks, but it looks like the $399 cost will take a long time to recoup, even with discounts on the latest titles hitting bookstores. When you add the cost of paying for blogs and newspapers that you can access for free on the Internet, it seems very expensive. You should remember that most of the major newspapers have their own websites where full color articles and images are featured. Most of the websites are available for free. You can get your emails on the Kindle, but again you are charged for the privilege. You can also convert an eBook to a Kindle-readable format and you will be charged for the privilege. Your Internet access is restricted to the US.

The ASUS is a complete subnotebook. You have Wi-Fi installed so you can connect to the Internet at any Wi-Fi hotspot in the world. You have an Internet browser. Firefox is Linux based browser and you will find it much better than Internet Explorer. You can call your friends using Skype. The ASUS EEE has a built-in microphone and speakers, as well as a webcam, so you don’t have to carry a lot of extras. The unit weighs around 2 pounds, allowing the weakest of us to carry it around. In the Linux version, the office suite is provided by OpenOffice, the open source competitor of MS Office. In the Windows version it is MS Works. A full QWERTY keyboard and 7″ monitor make for a very attractive package. The 4G solid-state hard drive may be seen as a limitation, but bring along a selection of SD cards, some with music and some with books to read, and you’ll be able to I don’t find it to be any limitation at all.

The battle lines are drawn. Do you want a complete personal computer with a color screen in a reduced size? OK! I admit that the keys are small and close together. Or do you just want a monochrome eBook reader that has had your newspaper pictures and graphic images removed because the Kindle screen can’t display them?

Granted, the Kindle with its new energy-saving screen and dedicated features would be an attractive proposition if the price were lower, but there’s no price difference between the Kindle and a fully spec’d subnotebook PC, even if it’s one running Linux, there seems to be very little competition between the two.

Go out and find a computer store that sells ASUS EEE and take a look at the clarity of the small color screen. Take a look at the keyboard and decide if you can type on the keyboard. Then find out which of your friends has a Kindle (that’s right folks these days, the Kindle is only sold online) and see what it looks like and what the results are when blogs and newspapers are displayed.

Take your pick.