MSI Wind U100 review
A startling achievement: a capable, highly usable ultraportable for less than £300. Only mediocre battery life mars its appeal.
Review Date: 3 Jul 2008
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: (£317 inc VAT)
The flurry of inexpensive laptops has finally reached its peak. First, HP's Mini-Note 2133, then Acer's Aspire One attempted to recreate the success of Asus' pint-sized Eee range. Now MSI's own contender, the Wind U100, is upon us.
The burning question is whether it can truly live up to such stratospheric expectations.
After our initial, and admittedly curt, encounter with MSI's Wind we were already excited. Really excited. We'd already heard the peals of dissent from the Eee faithful. "It's too big and heavy," they cried. "What's the point of a 10in screen?" they continued. For us though, from the first moment we clapped eyes and hands upon its smoothly contoured form, something about the Wind just seemed inexplicably right.
Measuring 260 x 180 x 37mm (WDH) it is indeed larger than either Acer's Aspire one, or any of Asus' Eees. And at 1.15kg it's heavier too, but not by much.
A few hundred grams is a small penalty to pay for the fine build quality. Wrestle with the base and there's a little flex accompanied by a quiet creak, but it still feels sturdier than all its rivals bar the HP Mini-Note 2133. The lid is pleasingly stiff, and it's not until you twist or prod with extreme force that any show-through is transmitted to the display itself. So far, so great.
MSI has put the Wind's extra girth to good use too. The keyboard reaches right to the edges of the chassis, and compared to the Acer Aspire one's fine example, it's another three or so millimetres taller and 10mm wider. One thing it has in common with Acer's model is its superiority over the Eee's cramped keyboard. Touch-typing is effortless, and whether you're at a desk or in the cramped confines of a sweaty commuter train, there's very little to complain about.
Well, okay, the layout isn't quite perfect. The positioning of the Fn key to the left of the Ctrl key takes a bit of getting used to, and having to depress the Fn key and use the up and down cursors to emulate PgUp and PgDn is a fiddly workaround. But, given the full height Enter key, and the amply-spaced, positive-feeling keys, these are compromises we could learn to live with.
And while we were prepared to put up with the Aspire one's aggravating trackpad layout - with buttons arranged to the left and right of it to save space - the Wind's traditional trackpad is a breath of fresh air. It might look like a Mac-style single button, but it's hinged in the middle to allow for left and right clicks, and we had no problems with it at all.
The 10in screen shares the same 1,024 x 600 pixels as its competitors, but the extra inch or so of screen size makes everything just a touch more legible. And thanks to the LED backlighting it provides impressive brightness.
If anything, it's too bright at times but while this, and the matte finish, make it perfect for tapping out emails and surfing the net in the garden, it has a somewhat negative effect on colour accuracy. Skintones tended to look just a touch too washed out, and detail in bright areas was missing. It's no deal-breaker but, again, it stops short of perfection.
Strong at heart
Much of the Wind's technological blueprint is startlingly similar to its rivals. But it's hardly surprising that the Wind and most of its ilk (HP's Mini-Note 2133 being one unfortunate exception) have adopted Intel's Atom processor. This, the top of the range Wind, boasts an Intel Atom N270 processor beavering away at 1.6GHz, backed up with 1GB RAM and an 80GB hard disk loaded with Windows XP Home. It's not a particularly potent combination, but with a score of 0.38 in our application-based benchmarks, it's clearly capable of everyday tasks.
- Toshiba beats retreat from consumer PC market
- Google to follow Apple with device encryption
- U2 and Apple working on "new music format"
- Ellison steps down: but who's really running Oracle now?
- Audioboo to become Audioboom in app revamp
- Apple slaps down Google and police, as it takes high ground on user privacy
- Amazon releases high-end Kindle Voyage Touch
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Virgin carpeted again for broadband speed claims
- Microsoft set to make more job cuts
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- The 7 best Chromebooks of 2014
- iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5: is the Apple or Samsung flagship smartphone right for you?
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6 (X or Shamu) release date, price and specs rumour roundup
- Best of IDF: top tech and memorable moments from Intel's tech show
- How Apple Pay works and how to use it on your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch
- Tech of the future... and the British boffins building it
- Abuse magnets: the people behind corporate Twitter accounts
- Putting people at the centre of software design
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office