Comparing netbooks with similar products is inevitable. Netbooks highlight mobility and accessability for a low cost, but they aren’t the only devices to do so – ultramobiles, smartphones, and laptops (to an extent) all emphasize these qualities.
So while it might seem a little strange to compare netbooks with the new Amazon Kindle 2 reading device, you have to admit they have a lot in common. The Kindle 2 is immensely portable, costs $360, and packs a heck of a lot into its tiny frame… just like a netbook. In case you don’t know much about it, the Kindle 2 is a 3G device specified for reading. You can download any of the “230,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available” in under 60 seconds, read what you want, and store up to 1,500 items in the 2 GB hard drive.
A recent blog post by Karen DeCoster at LewRockwell.com discussed the Kindle 2 in relationship to netbooks, mentioning a few major problems with Kindle. Firstly, she mentioned that, though the Kindle 2 offers access to all kinds of media, “most of it is modern, junk fiction, or cheeseball non-fiction. There are some serious works of literature or non-fiction available, but it still has to be “popular” before that occurs.” Of course, if you’re a major reader of popular fiction, it’s quite possible that the device would be great for you.
She also mentions that Kindle seriously taxes you for news subscriptions; for example, the New York Times costs $14/month. Kindle can subscribe you to blogs, but mostly only mainstream ones. Unlike on a netbook with a web browser, access to blogs through Kindle can cost you around 1.99/month. It’s not a lot, but the numbers add up.
The $360 price tag isn’t horrible. Unlike nearly all netbook mobile broadband plans, Amazon doesn’t charge Kindle users monthly for 3G. There’s no browser on the device, making most of the point of 3G null, so the inclusion of the feature is only really meant for access to new things to buy.
DeCoster then suggests an alternative: netbooks. The particular model she mentions is the Eee PC 1000H, and we think she’s heading in the right direction. The Kindle device is sleek and pretty, but so are a lot of netbooks. For $360 you can get a lot more than just access to reading materials – you get word processing,the ability to connect with printers and any USB device you’d like, web browsing, and in the near future all kinds of other tasks. A costly device like this doesn’t deliver what it could, and netbooks are the way to go.
Of course, Amazon won’t flinch too much at that pronouncement – they’ve been riding the netbook wave to great benefit lately, with these successes culminating in their new online netbook store.
If you’re still interested, you can get the Amazon Kindle 2 here.