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MSI Wind U210 review

Barry de la Rosa
18 Dec 2009
MSI Wind U210
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
399
inc VAT

The new Wind is well designed, and its AMD processor is quick in some applications, but its short battery life lets it down.

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Specifications

12.1 in 1,366x768 display, 1.3kg, 1.6GHz AMD Neo MV-40, 1.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

MSI's new Wind netbook is very similar in outward design to the original U100. No bad thing as that designed was roundly applauded and then rebadged by the likes of Advent and Medion. This new model is larger, however, with a 12.1in screen, instead of the usual 10.1in netbook display. There have also been significant changes beneath the casing, with MSI replacing the original Wind's Intel Atom N270 processor with an AMD Neo MV-40 chip.

The MV-40 runs at the same 1.6GHz clock speed as the N270 and both chips are single core. The Atom supports hyper-threading, though, and so is better at running multiple applications; the Neo doesn't, and suffered in the multi-tasking portion of our benchmarks, scoring only 3 points. It struck back in our image-editing test, scoring an impressive 42, largely thanks to its faster front side bus. Given a single application to run, it will feel much zippier than an Atom-equipped netbook; but try and run more than one application and it'll slow quickly. The overall score came to 19, which is a couple of points higher than most Atom netbooks. Also inside is a 500GB hard disk, which is bigger than some full sized laptops have.

The U210, like the U100, has a keyboard that takes up the full width of the case, plus there's extra space thanks to the wider display. The single-height Enter key is disappointing, although the page navigation keys that have been inserted on the right side help make up for this. Most importantly, the keys have distinct feedback, so touch-typists will find it a pleasure to use. The touchpad is less impressive, as it's a bit too small and rather unresponsive. The tiny buttons are thoughtfully set close to the edge of the case, where your thumb naturally rests.

Sadly, the U210's battery life of less than four hours in our light usage test is unacceptable for a netbook. Most of our Best Buy award-winning netbooks recently have had battery lives of more than seven hours. Even Acer's Ferrari One, also an AMD-powered netbook with a large display, managed over five hours.

The 12.1in display has a resolution of 1,366x768, giving you 70 per cent more desktop space than a normal netbook screen and can show 720p HD content. The screen has a glossy finish, which can cause problems with reflections. The backlight is even, but not as bright as we'd like, and colours are a bit dull, with a blue cast to whites. The graphics chipset can handle HD video, but modern 3D games are out of the question, as it failed our Call of Duty 4 benchmark.

It's a refreshing change to find a netbook without an Intel processor, but in this case the results are disappointing. Although single-application performance is great, multi-tasking suffers and battery life is poor. The Ferrari One is a good alternative if you don't mind the branding, everyone else should wait for one of the upcoming Windows 7 Ion-based netbooks, like Samsung's N510.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorAMD Neo MV-40
Processor clock speed1.6GHz
Memory1.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory2GB
Size31x297x190mm
Weight1.3kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption idle15W
Power consumption active27W

Display

Viewable size12.1 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorATI Mobility Radeon X1250
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory128MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive modelN/A
Optical drive typeN/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slotsnone
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionN/A
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9
Optional extrasN/A

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years collect and return
Price£399
Detailswww.msicomputer.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk

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