The PDA market is dead, murdered by the smartphone. With the Asus Eee Note, it seems Asus is betting that it can reemerge somewhere in the cracks between the eReader and tablet as a travel/meeting/class companion for students and busy professionals.
It’s tough to find a device similar to the Asus Eee Note currently on the market. In fact, Asus seems careful not to call it either an eReader or a tablet, settling instead for the title the “ultimate digital notepad.”
Because of its long battery life and monochrome display, it could be a Kindle competitor. But the Asus Eee Note sports an active digitizer, Wacom pen, and a two-megapixel camera, in addition to a host of productivity tools and a full web browser with HTML 5 support, while the Kindle is mainly a reading device with an eInk screen and basic web browser.
Because of its note-taking capabilities, eight-inch display (768×1024 resolution), and Linux OS, it could be a tablet. But instead of a full color LCD, the Eee Note has a monochrome screen with no backlight – a display choice I lauded as being second only to eInk in terms of readability in my Aluratek Libre Review.
In fact, the Eee Note is more in line with the multifunction PDAs from yesterday than it does the eReaders and tablets of today. Whereas the iPad and Kindle are great for consuming media, the Eee Note seems like a device for creating content, one note at a time.
Hands On the Eee Note
I received a hands-on view of the Asus Eee Note at Asus headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan and have a few thoughts on digitial notepad.
The first thing I noticed is how solid the Eee Note feels. Its brushed aluminum shell made it cool to the touch and I suspect it will shrug off fingerprints and smudges well. While I would recommend anyone using an Eee Note regularly pick up a folio in case of an accidental drop, the Eee Note seems up to the daily rigors of office life.
I also too was struck by the matte glass display finish. It handled glare very well and actually made for a more pleasant inking experience than I have had on other slates with glossy displays.
When inking, I always have trouble adjusting to the finish on glossy displays. They are just too smooth and my pen often glides wildly as jot down notes. The very slight texture of the matte display on the Eee Note provides just enough friction for a more natural writing experience, almost akin to using a very good ballpoint pen.
More than a PDA
In addition to the full Web browser and Microsoft Office document and Evernote support, the Eee Note has a full web browser, MP3 player, standard micro USB port, and two-megapixel camera. The cool thing about the camera is that any photos taken with it and emailed will be in color on the other end. The Eee Note is also a fully functional eReader that supports EPUB and PDF files. Users can order books directly from Kobobooks.com over b/g Wi-Fi.
Can it Compete?
The price alone — for a device with a digitizer and Wacom pen — is probably enough to pique the interest of tablet fans not ready to plop down $800 for an HP Slate 500. And the Eee Note’s portability and added functionality definitely make it more than a Kindle plus a scratch pad.
TabletPCReview will be hounding Asus for a review unit as soon as they are ready because after spending some time with the Eee Note, we wonder if tales of the PDA’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.