In an effort to not only improve our technical situation, but also bring you information on a wide range of devices, we invested in several different models of netbooks.
My old ASUS EeePC 4G (701) was plenty portable, but let’s face it… 4GB of storage isn’t the best solution for mobile audio/video production, so I picked up the MSI Wind Netbook.
My review is inside.
Let’s start with the easy part, raw specs:
- Intel Atom 1.6 GHz Processor
- 512 KB L2 Cache
- 533 MHz Bus
- 6 Cell Battery
- 1.3 MP Web Camera
- Includes foam case
- Built-in 10/100 Ethernet LAN Card
- Built-in 802.11b/g/n WLAN Card
- Bluetooth Supported
- Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition
- 160 GB SATA Hard Drive
- 1GB DDR2 667MHz RAM (2GB Max)
- 4-in-1 SD/MMC/MS/MSpro Card Reader
- 3 USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 Mic-In Port
- 1 Headphone Port
- Internal Stereo Speakers
This particular model also has a 10″ screen, which not only provides a decent amount of (readable) real estate, but it also gives the unit a larger form factor than most 8″-9″ netbooks. While that could be a deal breaker for anyone looking for a small device, it’s not so much larger that you’ll notice a difference… and the upshot is a larger keyboard.
If you’ve used a netbook before, you know where I’m coming from; a usable keyboard is rare in this class of computer. I’ll gladly add an extra inch of two to the overall size of the machine if I can type without my hands cramping. The Wind is the most comfortable typing netbook I’ve encountered.
While the touchpad/mouse is still annoyingly small and difficult to use (true to form on most netbooks), since the unit features Bluetooth Connectivity, I used a Logitech Bluetooth mouse for most of my testing. It synched without issue, and never had jitters or pausing that are typical of lower-end Bluetooth implementations in a laptop. Bluetooth (as well as the on-board wifi card and web cab) can be toggled on and off easily from the keyboard to conserve battery power.
Speaking of battery power, I reviewed the 6 Cell Battery model… and I was amazed.
Without using any power saving features, and charging my cell phone from a USB port, the Wind lasted an astonishing 4 hours (continuous use) before shutting down. Using the low power mode, which is also a toggle option from the keyboard, the machine lasted nearly 5.5 hours.
I wish my iPod, full size laptop, or even my cell phone had this kind of energy profile.
While my choice of operating system leans towards Linux, I can deal with the Windows XP Home Edition install, and it gave me an opportunity to test more ‘resource intensive’ applications on the Wind.
Adobe Production Suite installed, launched, and ran… okay, it brisk walked. Not terribly fast, but it was usable.
Color me impressed.
What didn’t impress me was 3D graphic performance. Guild Wars installed fine, but despite being an older title, it ran like a slideshow. Okay, I can deal with that. You’re probably not shopping for a netbook as a gaming machine. If you are, I wish you luck. Lots of it.
The MSI Wind is plenty quick for it’s class, offers an impressive feature set, and still manages to come in at an affordable price. If you’re looking for a netbook that can do more than surf the web and check email, I’d recommend this machine without reservation.
I’m looking forward to adding another Gig of RAM, and dual booting the Wind with Linux… I’ll let you know how that turns out.
Matt says BUY IT.