Asus Eee PC
I broke down and purchased the Asus Eee PC (above left) from a retail superstore today. At $299 for the older 2GB model, it seemed like a steal. And compared to my MacBook Pro (above right), the Eee PC is super small. Here are some initial thoughts about the Eee PC, including the most important one of all: The Eee PC shatters the myth that consumers can't use Linux.

We've only been using it for a few hours at home, and the Eee PC certainly has some limitations. But without a doubt, this is a great little Linux-driven computer for selected applications. Perhaps most surprising: My pre-teen kids love it.

Pros:
  • Boots up fast: 30 seconds or less. No annoying security software, no craplets, nothing between you and a reasonably fast user experience.
  • WiFi: Nice wireless integration. Connecting to my Linksys network was a snap, even for my kids.
  • User Interface: The icon-driven user interface is easier to understand than most bank ATM machines. Eee PC destroys the myth that Windows users can't quickly master Linux. In fact, Eee PC is easier to use than Windows.
  • Applications: Simple integrated apps like OpenOffice, and big, easy-to-see icons link you to Skype and other major Web 2.0 applications. Overall, getting started on this machine is a snap.
  • Price: At $299, this is a great little machine for email, productivity apps, blogging, and basic functions.
Asus Eee PC 2

Cons:
  • Keyboard: The keys are pretty darn small for my hands but fine for my kids' hands. I suspect with some practice my hands will get used to the keyboard.
  • Screen: At 7 inches, the real estate is pretty limited. Fortunately, Eee PC's user interface includes big icons. I've included photos comparing the Eee PC to my MacBook Pro -- and you can quickly see the big difference regarding screen real estate.
To Be Determined:
  • Battery Life: I will run it through the paces during some business trips this week.
  • Printing: I haven't set it up to work with my office printers yet.
I'm not suggesting that Eee PC is a perfect machine or a true laptop replacement. I will still depend on my MacBook Pro for most business tasks. But the Eee PC has quickly become a hit with my kids. And I can imagine using it as a low-end secondary notebook around the house and in some business settings. At $299, the Eee PC appears to be an undeniable bargain. And it presents a solid alternative to very low-end Windows notebooks that collapse under Vista's weight.

Update: In a blog about setting up his boss on on Ubuntu, Works With U contributor Jason Kichen describes how he migrated an Eee PC to a range of Ubuntu options. Here's Jason's blog entry.