Netbooks are real computers that can handle many real computer tasks -- such as surfing the Web, word processing, spreadsheet writing and nearly anything you can do on larger computers.
The Kindle 2 is, for the most part, a single-purpose device. You basically buy and download material then you can choose from six text sizes, add bookmarks, notes, and highlights, read (not write) personal documents such as Microsoft Word and PDF, and view images, search (only) the Web, Wikipedia.org, Kindle Store, and Your Kindle Library where customers' purchased content is stored.
Curiously, when I went to the Amazon.com's front page to read about the Kindle 2, I noticed there was also an advertisement in the adjacent right-hand column for the new Asus Eee PC 1000HE ($379). I couldn't make this up if I tried.
There are other e-book readers on the market (by Sony and Franklin) and there are also a number of downloadable e-book reader programs made for smartphones by Apple, T-Mobile and Google, Palm, Microsoft and others. According to published reports, Google has already made more than 1.5 million books available for free via iPhone or Android devices.
In a nutshell, the Kindle 2 is a clever handheld device perfect for reading material that you download from the Web. It is priced similarly to many current Netbooks but can't do nearly as many tasks. On the other hand, a Netbook would not be my first choice for reading e-books but does other lots of other things very well. If you enjoy reading and you're willing to shell out about $400 ($359 plus sales tax, etc.) then Amazon's Kindle 2 is the perfect solution.
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