MSI's Notebook version of Wind was quite promising from day one, but we were concerned that this tiny notebook looked too good on paper. We managed to get one of the first samples of Wind PC U100, and after a few days with it, we can tell you that this machine is generally better than we expected.
The test unit that we've got has a 10.2-inch display that can show respectable 1024x600 resolution. This is enough for any Web page and it will feel comfortable to type or surf. The display and the notebook are wide screen, which makes it look even bigger.
The Wind PC notebook, branded simply as U100, has a CPU that is bigger than Neutron but smaller than Molecule, but we don't dare to tell its name before next week. The CPU, as we wrote so many times before, works at 1.6GHz and runs Windows XP really fast. It runs between 700 and 1600MHz, depending on what you do.
The machine is also equipped with 1024MB memory, but the graphics card uses a modest 16MB, whereas the rest is reserved for the system. Another positive surprise is an 80GB Western Digital hard drive, as this is really enough storage for most notebook users. There will be a version with a smaller SSD drive and a smaller screen, but we won’t talk about them today. It measures 260 width x 180mm depth x19-31.5mm hight.
The machine also comes with a few surprises such as three USB ports, web camera and microphone. Let’s not forget 10/100 LAN, 802.11B/G wireless and stereo bluetooth.
Let’s go from the right side. You have one USB, memory card reader that reads SD / MMC / MS cards, microphone and headphones port, VGA out and LAN port. The left hand side features two USBs a fan exhaust, power supply port and Kensington lock. The fan is very quiet and you can sometimes hear the hard drive as the machine’s fan will be almost completely silent.
The keyboard is small but anyone who has ever worked with 12-inch notebooks won’t have problems getting used to it. I am typing this on a plane on a Wind PC notebook, so imagine that this notebook fits on the food tray in the plane and feels really comfortable. On the other hand, why not see for yourself, as the picture below shows this notebook and some food on the small food tray table, which further paints a picture of just how great this little thing is.
The touchpad is very comfortable and nicely designed and you have bunch of LED lights that will tell you if bluetooth is on or off, is wireless on or off, whether the notebook is in sleep mode, battery indicator, caps lock, num lock, network and hard drive activity. Let’s not forget that Wind notebook U100 has two speakers that can play music quite loudly. They are positioned on the bottom side of the notebook.
MSI has introduced an on-screen status display that shows you what feature is on and off, and you turn things on and off by pressing the combination of FN and the desired key. You can bend the monitor by more than 90 degrees which is also nice and the brightness at lower settings looks acceptable; and it will certainly save you a lot of battery time.
The machine comes with a three-Cell battery with 24.2 Watt hours that is enough for two to three hours of work. However, battery life greatly depends on the brightness of the screen and what you’re doing.