Asus may have made the first netbook with its Eee PC, but it was MSI's Wind that became the blueprint for hard drive-equipped Atom-powered netbooks. The original Wind earned its popularity with a winning combination of a comfortable keyboard, an accurate trackpad and an anti-glare 10in screen.
MSI has kept the ‘Wind' moniker for its new MSI U210-075UK netbook but, besides the familiar curvy body, almost everything has changed. There's now a slight elongation to accommodate a 12.1in widescreen, this time with a true 16:9 ratio, albeit with a high-gloss reflective finish.
The keyboard's keys are now flatter and more tile-like, but there's a little too much flex toward the centre. We could accept that if the MSI Wind U210-075UK netbook's trackpad had been more usable; it's the least precise, most laborious input device we've had to work with for some time.
Inside the MSI Wind U210-075UK netbook is a novel combination of AMD central and graphics processors. The CPU is clocked at the same speed as most Intel Atoms, but this Athlon Neo MV-40 helped the MSI to a WorldBench 6 speed score of 52 points. Compared with the circa-30-point results of most Atom machines, this is a healthy step-up.
But despite the chunky six-cell battery on our sample, the MSI Wind U210-075UK netbook's runtime was a little disappointing: just over three and a half hours. For a similar-sized battery on an Atom netbook, we'd usually see twice that.
The AMD ATI Radeon X1250 graphics are still built on the motherboard, but promise a little more power than their Intel counterparts. While this setup supports Windows' Aero interface easily enough, and some light games, it's not as powerful as the nVidia 9400M, for example. But the MSI Wind U210-075UK netbook scored up to 48fps in our Fear test, after dropping quality settings somewhat.
In other areas the MSI Wind U210-075UK netbook is well specified, sporting 2GB of RAM and a generous 500GB hard drive. Networking is up to date too, thanks to gigabit ethernet and 802.11n wireless. And trumping the usual analogue VGA output is a modern HDMI option.
MSI fits the Wind U210-075UK with a slightly more powerful processor and graphics than most netbooks, although this reduces battery life. Nor did we like the touchpad. Even so, this is an attractive, speedy model that earns a Recommended badge.