Thursday, 2 October 2008

MSI Wind U100 review

As I quite obviously announced a review of msi wind in my previous post but not to bother the reader, I'll just make a quick one.


When you hold it in your hand it really is light and when you compare it with a macbook it is much more lighter. Coincidentally, macbook is considerable lighter and smaller than standard 15'' laptops.
It feels well built and the lid is exceptionally sturdy and doesn't flex. This has something with endurance testing which they do at MSI. You get a paper stating that every notebook they make can endure 25kg on any single point of a notebook (and yes that includes the lid), the lid can be closed 3 trillion times, keys can be pressed 25 googol times etc. Ok the last two I exaggerated slightly but you get the point. So the laptop feels generally sturdy and well built. I actually prefer the macbooks plastic because it feels/looks much more expensive though. Hinges are ok, they don't look flimsy like on the acer aspire one. One more good thing about them is that they allow the screen to be opened very wide so you don't have the problem just like on a macbook which lacks the wide screen opening angle. On wind you can open the screen to almost 180deg which is great. Display is ok. To be honest I do miss 1280x800 resolution of a macbook (which could be greater) even though the colours and viewing angles are good. The latter characteristic is even better than on a macbook. They could put before mentioned resolution without problems on a screen like this (and increasing the pixel density greatly). Maybe the next generation will get something like this but I'm not optimistic. If subnotebooks ever get that resolution there wouldn't be any good reason to buy a 15'' entry level laptop anymore. Screen backlight is LED but I really need to compare those two screens more carefully to determine any gain/loss in quality.

Keyboard is tiny but you can touch type without problems. It takes a little getting used to it but it's not a problem. I have a feeling that if the keys were any smaller (like on asus 901) I would have problems with typing though. But this is only just a feeling of course.

One important feature of the latest subnotebooks is Intel's Atom processor. On the wiki page you can see that even on full power this processor will waste only 4W of power which in theory is almost nothing. But in practice it is a completely another story. True enough, its not the problem with the processor (which is relatively fast) but with the chipset and integrated intel's graphics. Those two waste alot of power which has two things as a consequence: fan is working all the time and the battery life is poor (2h at most). Compare this with the macbook which is completely silent 95% of the time (you can hear the fan only after prolonged 100% processor use) and its battery lasts more than 5hours with same usage patterns. And those 2 hours are really pathethic in real world use. The problem is that the subnotebooks are built to be used on the go. In the park, in the bus, train, car, maybe in a school etc. Those little less than 2 hours pass very fast so you almost always need to haul the transformer (which thankfully is small) and the power cable (which is bulky). Additionaly you always have to be on the lookout for power outlets. When 6cell batteries come to croatian's "market" I'll probably buy one if it won't be too expensive. That way you can have that larger battery and a smaller one in your jacket pocket which will get you combined power for 6 hours of work which is enough. I sincerely hope that the next generation will get updated chipsets and less power hungry graphics.

Just a sidenote and an update about my fan problems. Few days after I bought it, fan developed some noise which occurs when you start the computer (probably at full power) but goes away after a few seconds. I tried everything with the fan, even disconnecting it completely. But I still haven't managed to repair it. I have a feeling that with little aluminium the could solve the cooling problem without the need of a fan. They should have made (at least) the bottom of the laptop of aluminium and connect it directly to the processor, chipset and graphics. Without the ventilator temperatures are 75+degrees which is alot really. Your fingers get sweaty under the heat and you can almost smell the electronics melting. That is not good.

Touchpad is tiny and this version has the worser sentelic one which lacks normal scrolling and this is one of the bigger gripes I have with this subnotebook. Control of the mouse pointer is good, and I would even say that the surface is relatively more responsive than then macbook's one. But I really miss the scrolling I have on the macbook (two finger scrolling is great) or the synaptic's type of scrolling. Moreover I hate the touchpad button (one button, two points of pressure) which is extremely stiff, wedged and your thumb starts to hurt immediately if you use it. They blew it with this "solution". Its not a comfort that touchpads suck on other subnotebooks.

I miss the dvi port but that's Intel's stupid decision to blackmail subnotebook manufacturers not to include them (to protect laptop market).

Hard disk is reasonably fast but have a clicking noise when it parks the head. This is a pitty because macbooks hard drive is dead silent all the time.


Nothing to say much about windows xp sp3. True enough its not osx but it is good enough. I miss the "close the lid for standby, open the lid for resume" from the macbook. Wind only does the first part ok. Programs run fast, and I never noticed that I worked on the subnotebook when working with generally used programs like ms office, firefox etc.

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