MSI's Wind NB U100 is one of the first Intel Atom-based mini-notebooks to appear. And like the Acer's Aspire One, it gives a clear idea of what the bargain-priced CPU can handle. Update: 24 October 2008: MSI Wind U100 review.
Other components include 1GB of RAM, an 80GB 2.5in hard drive, and Windows XP - not too shabby for £329. The MSI Wind is roughly the size of a super-small ultraportable laptop, like Lenovo's IdeaPad U110, but mini-notebooks and ultraportables by no means overlap in price or performance.
The MSI Wind U100 manages to one-up earlier mini-notebook designs with a 10in, 1024-by-600 resolution display and a keyboard reasonably appropriate for human hands to type on. And compared to some displays, this one is crisp and bright, aided by its purer white LED backlighting. The Wind is also larger overall (260x180x19-31.5mm) than most other mini-notebooks, and its construction seems solid (bonus points for the well-constructed hinges inside the case).
The MSI Wind U100 comes with three USB ports, a webcam/mic that camps atop the display, an multi-card reader slot, and ethernet and VGA-out jacks.
The bundled software is pretty skimpy: a trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 and a BurnRecovery App that crafts a recovery CD (not much good on a computer that lacks an optical drive). However you can restore the entire Windows XP Home operating system from a partition on its hard drive.
In the past we haven't been able to squeeze our WorldBench 6 benchmarking on to the miniscule solid-state drives of some mini-notebooks. With the MSI Wind U100 we succeeded, but its performance was predictably weak. It earned a low overall score of 36, and some tests simply wouldn't run properly on the device.
One of the MSI Wind U100's features is TurboDrive - a feature that originally promised both over- and underclocking at the touch of a button. Now, however, TurboDrive only offers a power management shortcut that puts the Atom processor into a (relatively) low-power mode. Battery life is a letdown: the three-cell battery that shipped with our unit lasted for just 2 hours, 24 minutes.
Navigating documents and files was reasonably painless. We even liked the single bar at the bottom of the mousepad, which serves as both the left and right mouse click - a far better solution than what HP's 2133 and Acer's Aspire One came up with for their mouse button layouts.
There are some solid reasons to consider MSI's Wind. It's small and fairly light (about 1kg), and it's sturdy enough to take a beating. But other solidly-built mini-notebooks are just around the corner, including Lenovo's S10 and probably an entry from Dell this Autumn. If you can't wait, the MSI Wind is a solid recommendation to buy now.