MSI Wind U100 £329
31st Jan 2008 | 07:00
MSI's golden oldie netbook still cuts the mustard for power users
MSI (Micro-Star International) isn't a household name in computers: the Taiwanese firm sells most of its machines to other vendors, who add their own logos and branding.
We've already seen this with the LG X 110 earlier in the test, but sometimes MSI likes to go it alone, and consequently we have the Wind series of netbooks. (There's also a series of desktop computers from MSI called Wind.)
Straight away there's one thing clear about the U100's casing: it's a total fingerprint magnet. That's nothing that a quick wipe with some cloth can't fix, but if you like your electronics looking perpetually shiny, you might find it frustrating when the machine catches a certain light and a smothering of smudges appear.
The left-hand side of the unit houses an excellently large air intake vent, along with the Kensington lock slot, power socket and two USB ports. On the right you'll find another USB port, the SD/MMC card slot, headphone and microphone jacks, VGA out and Ethernet.
Beneath the extremely rigid screen is a tough, non-rattly keyboard that, like the Lenovo IdeaPad S10e, has the Fn key in the bottom-left corner rather than the Ctrl key, which takes some getting used to if you're a heavy Ctrl key user.
The right-hand Shift key is to the left of the up cursor key, which is normal on desktops but not on netbooks. Otherwise it's a very good keyboard.
The trackpad is sufficiently deep, with the buttons going almost to the edge – while it looks like one button in the photos, it holds two switches. We'd like MSI to add more width to the trackpad though; after all, there's plenty of room.
MSI supplied our Wind with a six-cell battery (available online at £35–40) that juts out of the bottom of the unit by 1cm and adds a bit to the weight, bringing it close to the Asus Eee 1000 on the scales. However, we have some reservations about the build quality.
It's not bad – it doesn't feel flimsy or as if it'll break apart in your hands. But the plastics creak with pressure in places and the hinge isn't as tight as we'd like. With a good case and a careful owner we can't see any big problems occurring here, but we have more confidence with in the main competitor in its class, the Asus Eee PC 1000, being able to take punishment.
The Wind is one of the few netbooks to include Bluetooth, and Ubuntu Netbook Remix configured straight out of the box. The webcam was not detected, however.
In terms of wireless signal pickup, boot time and overall performance, the Wind is mostly on a par with the Asus Eee PC, although the Eee's SSD drive is slower than the Wind's hard drive. If you're looking for a larger-sized, almost-a-notebook netbook with a hefty battery, your two options in this guide are the Wind and the Eee.
There isn't a huge amount to choose between them in terms of performance, but the Eee has a better keyboard, sturdier shell and slightly lower price point, so we recommend it. This is still a respectable showing from MSI Wind though.
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