I picked my MSi Wind from the Easter sale at local tech shop, ComputerOrbit for £250. It’s the first time I’ve owned a netbook.
Form and finish – It’s a nice shape, easy to handle and professionally styled. The gloss white finish is crisp and doesn’t suffer fingerprint smudges. Build quality is solid – sturdy and with a decent hinge.
Keyboard is a decent size (even for a big-hander like myself). Keys feel a little bouncy, so time will tell how those will last. The Ctrl and Fn keys seem the wrong way round – Ctrl should be in the corner so it’s the easier of the two to hit. As it is, I keep bungling copy and paste. There’s no external volume or wi-fi switches, which I would have preferred.
Trackpad is annoying. Left and right mouse buttons are shared on a single bar, which is too firm. When clicking, it’s easy to hit the bottom of the trackpad by accident. This is especially noticable when left-click dragging- The mouse shoots the wrong way across the desktop when your thumb oversteps the mark. Having said that, the trackpad motion area is accurate and responsive.
Ports down the left and right-hand side include 3 USB, LAN, Card reader (untested, but apparently SD,MMC,MS, MS Pro.), microphone, headphones and external monitor.
Processor (Intel Atom 1.66GHz) has been perfectly adequate for the tasks I’ve thrown at it- compiling some code in FlashDevelop, running demanding Flash, viewing the web (with Chrome), running XAMPP, TweetDeck, virus checker, Spotify, iTunes.
The machine is advertised with ‘Turbo Battery’ mode. When not attached to main power, it’s an easy switch (Fn + F10) to drop processor speed to 1.0GHz and extend the battery life.
OS – It came preloaded with Windows XP SP3. I’ve been impressed how quickly this boots up and shuts down- perhaps I’m just used to my overloaded main machine wheezing and coughing?
HDD is respectable, advertised as 160GB and partitioned into two drives: C (Windows + ~25GB free) and D (~106GB free).
Webcam isn’t great, and seems to capture very darkly.
Speakers - Similarly, are weak- but, the headphone jack works fine, so a pair of headphones makes the laptop a good travel mate.
Battery life is good. With unscientific experience, this 6 cell model seems to tally about 4 hours for regular use, with perhaps another hour added in ‘Turbo Battery’ mode.
Wireless – 802.11 built-in. Having fought shaky wi-fi connections on a range of computers / set-ups, I was pleased that this just seems to work flawlessly.
Screen is clear, and can, at the expense of battery-life, be ramped up to decent brightness. It’s 10″, and runs at a resolution of 1024×600. I find this very pokey, my main laptop has a super-sharp 1920×1200 screen squeezed into 17″, but I suppose that’s par-for-course for a netbook. Certainly, TweetDeck and FlashDevelop feel very restricted. There doesn’t seem to be scope to reduce the size of the default system font any further. I tried plugging in an external monitor, which successfully ran at 1920×1080 resolution as an extended desktop- I was pretty impressed by that!
Carry wallet – The netbook fits snugly into this, though this is only really suitable for machine and a couple of CDs or flat, A5 documentation- there’s no space for the powerbrick or a mouse, so its of limited use when travelling.
Games – It came preloaded with some games from MSi. A couple of these (a platform game and shoot’em’up, using webcam head-tracking for movement) hit the recycle bin immediately. I thought the same would be true of *wince* ‘Chicken Invaders 3‘, but that actually has a decent amount of character. I’ve yet to test ‘Island Wars’, ‘Loco’ or ‘Smiley Ville’.
So far, very satisfied.
My main beef is with the trackpad. I’m hoping I’ll get used to, or soften the buttons over time.
Amazon: Tech listing