Gnomie Andrew Norman writes:
I just watched your video concerning Asus Eee PC vs PDAs, and I have a thought concerning the issue. I’m sure you get hundreds of responses, but all the same I thought I’d respond.
Of course, I don’t deny that PDAs are computers, but I think there’s a pretty important difference between PDAs and laptops like the Eee PC or MacBook Air.
I do not have an Eee PC, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred I would probably never use it for anything that my Palm T|X couldn’t do about as well, but I still think that there is plenty of merit in the Eee PC. That is, while PDAs can do all of the basic functions of a PC, there are still the non-basic yet common functions that cannot as of yet be done on a PDA.
For example, as of now there are no equivalents to Photoshop on any PDAs (or at least none that I’m aware of), but an Asus EeePC running Xubuntu can use GIMP (and, I suppose, in theory, an XP machine could use Photoshop, but I seriously doubt it would have the room). If I want to do some sound editing, I could boot up Audacity, which I can’t do on my Palm and I’m guessing you can’t do on your iPhone (though correct me if I’m wrong). Or maybe I need to do some vector graphic editing, in which case I could bring up OpenOffice Drawing, which is yet another thing that cannot be done on PDAs. There are so many examples of programs that can be used. A MacBook Air could probably even run some heavier programs like Mathematica or Adobe Premiere, but the Eee PC still has many, many programs that are unavailable (and for good reason) on mobile devices.
These are not especially common functions, but they are still functions that are very important to some people. While I think I personally would mainly use an Eee PC for the simpler things, many people would love the Eee PC for these reasons.
There are also examples of functions that an Asus Eee PC can do far better than a PDA. For example, the office suite OpenOffice is far superior to Documents-To-Go on my Palm. My personal opinion is that DTG is a fantastic program for Palm, but if I had an Eee PC running Xubuntu, I would much rather use OpenOffice with a full keyboard, full screen, and, most importantly, full features of a complete office suite. I like to do a little writing, and I would much rather have a full screen and full keyboard than a tiny Palm screen to do that on. I also think that web browsing is far better on a small laptop than a PDA. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Opera, Safari, or even Skyfire (if it’s EVER released to the public), you still have to manage with a small screen, and if you’re reading a big wall of text, it’s much easier to see it on a decent-sized screen so you don’t have to keep scrolling back and forth. For checking movie times or a quick check of email, then Safari, Opera Mini, or even Blazer will work just fine, but if I’m at LinuxQuestions.org trying to figure out why OpenSuSE keeps crashing on me, I would much rather have a small laptop for a little bit more serious surfing.
And let’s not forget that using a laptop has a pretty useful feature in sharing files. Say you’re at a university and you need to print something or you’re with a friend and you need to give him a file — It can be a pain transferring it from a PDA to a computer. You might have to email it to yourself, taking time to upload (and if you’re on a 2g network that can be annoying), then browse on a university computer to your email and download it. If you’re lucky, your university might have a computer with an SD slot, but not likely (at least not at my school). If you’re using an Eee PC, you can simply copy it to a thumb drive. I have to share files a lot. I don’t know what I’d do without my flash drive. I love being able to move files to and fro quickly and easily.
In the end, it really comes down to what you want to do with it. I can use my Palm to watch movies, listen to music, browse the web, edit documents (slowly), read pdf files, and I even have Linux running on it. But I can’t run GIMP, OpenOffice (for more serious editing), Firefox (for more serious browsing), Audacity, or any other such programs. Although I don’t plan on getting an Asus Eee PC anytime particularly soon, I can certainly see why someone would want or even need an especially portable device. I can also see why someone would not want such a device. It simply comes down to what you want to do with it. There are some people that don’t need PDAs at all (though I pity such people).