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First Reviews of the MSI Wind Ultra-Portable Laptop 148

Posted by timothy
from the when-ndas-expire-you-sorta-win dept.
Ken E. writes "UK tech website Mobile Computer has an early hands-on review of the MSI Wind — a £329 ultraportable notebook that will compete head-on with the Asus Eee PC 900. In its favour are a 10in screen, better keyboard and, perhaps most important of all, an Intel Atom 1.6GHz dual-core processor (though the site shies away from mentioning this open secret due to what sound like NDA constraints). They like it a lot — is this finally a worthy Eee PC alternative?" (£329 is about $650US at the moment.) An anonymous reader points to CNET's hands-on photo gallery of the Wind; CNET's reviewer says the MSI Wind is the first mini notebook with an overclock button. Barence adds another review at PC Pro.
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First Reviews of the MSI Wind Ultra-Portable Laptop

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  • "Green" Laptop (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TTURabble (1164837) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:42AM (#23587113)
    Am I the only one who read the title and thought that MSI had made a wind powered laptop?
  • Reading in dollars? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EEDAm (808004) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:44AM (#23587147)
    You're right that £329 is about $650 on xe.com etc today. However it's a bit misleading when it comes to product. In Blighty here we have always suffered in the transatlantic stakes - new kit is always significantly more expensive than the USD/GBP exchange rate would infer. This is frequently illustrated in the UK press as being indicative of 'Rip off Britain'. I very strongly suspect this holds in the reverse here too. Given how weak the dollar is, I seriously don't expect them to be charging $650 for it in the US - it'll be cheaper.
    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:31AM (#23587853)
      This article [pcworld.com] lists the US prices as:
      Linux version: $560
      WinXP version: $604

      and the UK prices as:
      Linux version: £320 (~630 USD)
      WinXP version: £350 (~690 USD)

      • by thebdj (768618) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:55AM (#23588247) Journal
        Or it could be $399 [engadget.com]
        • by illumin8 (148082)

          Or it could be $399
          $399 for an ultra-portable machine that runs Mac OS X [netkas.org]? (it's a little slow with only 512MB of RAM; let's hope we can upgrade it) Yes please!
      • by thebdj (768618)
        Hate to dual reply. But the prices they list are for the UK Version to be imported by Expansys. Something engadget previously covered as $610. So, I would have to say that $399 if far more likely to be accurate based on what it is intended to compete with.
      • by Sockatume (732728)
        If those are tax-free prices for the US, then actually we're not doing too badly this time. You have to bear in mind, UK prices include VAT, while US prices frequently don't.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's already been reported [engadget.com] that the US price for the Linux (SuSE) version will be $399 and the XP version will be $549. The XP version will supposedly include more RAM, Bluetooth, and a higher capacity battery. There's also mention of a $499 "base" XP version.

      Also, I believe that "new kit is always significantly more expensive than the USD/GBP exchange rate would imply." Last time I checked, the exchange rate wasn't capable of rational thought (ha!), and thus can't infer.
  • page (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcelrath (8027) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:47AM (#23587183) Homepage
    Ok, why the hell has every manufacturer in the business decided to eschew the pgup/pgdn buttons for the god-awful two-handed replacement? Does anyone actually like this crap or are the rest of you only reading 1 page things?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      I like the placement of the buttons on my MacBook Pro. My ThinkPad has separate buttons, but they are up in the top right corner of the keyboard and hard to hit. My MBP has them on the arrow keys and so switching between scrolling one line and scrolling one page with the keys is just a matter of resting the edge of my left hand on the function key in the bottom-left corner of the keyboard. There is no comment in TFA on whether the 'responsive' trackpad is multitouch - I have got so used to two-fingered 2
      • by mcelrath (8027)
        You clearly don't hold a pencil in one hand while reading things. Not all of us have two free hands lying about.

        Between the one mouse button, lack of pgup/pgdn keys, and numerous hardware problems, my macbook pro is really pissing me off. I wish everyone would stop manufacturing crap.

        • by Xzzy (111297)
          If you use two fingers on the mousepad on a Mac, it will function as a scroll wheel.

          Doesn't work on older macbooks, but there's a driver floating around that will give you the feature.
          • by mcelrath (8027)
            Scroll wheel makes a crappy pgup/pgdn. Either it jumps too many pages or (if you lower sensitivity) makes scrolling in continuous mode (e.g. web browsers) way too slow.
            • Scroll wheel makes a crappy pgup/pgdn. Either it jumps too many pages or (if you lower sensitivity) makes scrolling in continuous mode (e.g. web browsers) way too slow.
              That's not how the track pad on the MB Pro behaves. It actually works pretty nicely. I've caught myself using that even though I've had the mouse in my hand a few times. You're right, scroll wheels leave quite a bit to be desired.
          • Or, I don't know, throw out the default mouse and buy a 19.99 Microsoft Intellieye /w scroll wheel and *gasp* two whole buttons!!
        • Re:page (Score:5, Funny)

          by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:58AM (#23588323) Journal
          You clearly don't hold a pencil in one hand while reading things. Not all of us have two free hands lying about.

          A pencil? May I suggest something to help [enzyte.com] grow that pencil to something more substantial...

          • by BronsCon (927697)

            You clearly don't hold a pencil in one hand while reading things. Not all of us have two free hands lying about.


            A pencil? May I suggest something to help [enzyte.com] grow that pencil to something more substantial...

            Burning karma here but... THIS is why I love Slashdot!
      • I like the placement of the buttons on my MacBook Pro.

        I don't. And to add insult to injury mine's the 17" so there's plenty of room for a full sized keyboard.

        This keyboard has what's close to the layout I'd like on a laptop:

        http://www.adesso.com/images/big/bigger/MCK-91.jpg [adesso.com]

        The older model I have at home, no longer available, has no "Fn" key or fake numeric keypad... which is another think I'd like to see laptop manufacturers give up on. Either way, this keyboard is about the same size as a regular laptop ke
    • by vux984 (928602)
      1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 1=0.

      1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; sqrt(1^2) = sqrt((-1)^2); {1,-1} = {1,- 1}

      there fixed that for you ;)
      • Bravo! That display of geekiness has won you 2 geek points and a cookie.


        Smile for the pictures and please exit the podium to your left.

    • by Skuldo (849919)
      I like them, can't use anything else now. Have to put up with space-bar-ing in web browsers on full-sized keyboards.
  • Weird scaling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxy the moron (770724) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:58AM (#23587379)

    I find it interesting that this laptop more or less falls right in between your standard fare laptop and an Eee PC in terms of portability and raw power, but is the most expensive of the crop.

    Using the base Vostro 1500 for the "average laptop" and the Eee PC 8G we have:

    • Eee PC - 7" display, 800Mhz Celeron, 8G storage, 1GB RAM @ $549
    • Wind - 10" display, 1.6Ghz Atom, 80GB storage, 1GB RAM @ $649
    • Vostro 1500 - 15.4" display, 1.6Ghz C2D, 120GB storage, 2GB RAM @ $499

    I realize the comparison is odd since they all hit different intended markets, but it seems that something that is between the two in specs would be closer to either of the two in terms of price than it currently is.

    • by Blahbooboo3 (874492) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:07AM (#23587511)

      I find it interesting that this laptop more or less falls right in between your standard fare laptop and an Eee PC in terms of portability and raw power, but is the most expensive of the crop.


      Using the base Vostro 1500 for the "average laptop" and the Eee PC 8G we have:

      • Eee PC - 7" display, 800Mhz Celeron, 8G storage, 1GB RAM @ $549
      • Wind - 10" display, 1.6Ghz Atom, 80GB storage, 1GB RAM @ $649
      • Vostro 1500 - 15.4" display, 1.6Ghz C2D, 120GB storage, 2GB RAM @ $499


      I realize the comparison is odd since they all hit different intended markets, but it seems that something that is between the two in specs would be closer to either of the two in terms of price than it currently is.

      Compared to the Vostro you're paying for the size reduction. I bet that Vostro is one of those fugly and heavy cheap dells. At 6.33lbs, you can have that Vostro lead brick. UGH! Never again for travel would I use something that heavy. Once you go 3lbs for travel, you NEVER go back.

      Compared to the EEE, you are paying for the larger 10" screen & faster processor.

      All in all, it makes perfect sense to me the price placement from your list.
      • by d3ac0n (715594)

        I bet that Vostro is one of those fugly and heavy cheap dells.

        Here [dell.com] is a link for you. If you hit the "Look Closer" link on that page, you can get a java-based 360 viewer. The Vostro actually has the same style aesthetic as the Wind. Just a bit bigger. Although it is a tad hefty at a starting weight of 6.33 lbs.

    • by tknd (979052)

      Your Eee PC specs are off for the Eee 8G: 900mhz celeron and it is $499. The Eee 900 is 900mhz, 8.9" screen, 4GB + 16GB (or 8GB if you go with winxp) at $549.

      The Wind is a little overpriced but is slightly different... hard drive vs ssd, slightly larger display (in dimensions, not pixels) and slightly larger keyboard. I can see some people paying the premium to have the large hard disk instead of the small ssd. The keyboard on the eee also takes a while to get used to and is very hard to touch-type on be

      • by berashith (222128)
        I love the fast bootups on the SSD on the eee, and all my data is portable or network accessible anyhow. The slightly larger keyboard might be nice, but now that I have gotten used to the tiny keys a normal keyboard actually makes me tired.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FleaPlus (6935)
      A couple weeks ago the official pricing structure for the MSI Wind in the US was announced, which I think alters your analysis quite a bit, as the version of the MSI Wind with Linux will be less costly than either the Eee or the Vostro:

      http://blog.laptopmag.com/msi-wind-revealed-10-inch-mini-notebook-to-hit-us-in-june [laptopmag.com]

      The Linux version, running Novel's SUSE, will have 512MB RAM and an 80GB hard drive. It will retail for $399. The Windows XP version will have 1GB RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and Bluetooth, retailing for $549. However according to MSI a base configuration of the Windows XP product will be available for under $500.

  • 3-4 hours on a 3 cell battery!? Awesome! With a 6cell battery at ~6 hours, I would gladly take one. Not to mention it's a dual core processor, and the the Asus eeePC only runs for a few (3.5) on a 6 cell battery off a 1ghz processor. That isn't to say I need a dualcore all the time, I am just amazed they could squeeze more juice out of a dual core and still make it competitive.
    • They always exaggerate, that will be the battery life when inactive, screen with no backlight and WiFi turned off.
    • Atom is a single core CPU.

      It supports two hardware threads on some configurations (not the lowest power versions), in the same way the P4 did.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mollymoo (202721) *
        The Silverthorne Atom was single core, the Diamondville comes in single or dual core.
        • "Comes in" suggests "now", when in fact the dual-core version is not yet available. The dual-core version has an 8W TDP as well. Original post said that Atom is a dual core processor, which is currently not the case.
    • by drsmithy (35869)

      Not to mention it's a dual core processor [...]

      The Wind has the single-core Atom variant.

      I'm expecting to see a dual-core version by Christmas. With that much power, these machines start reaching feasibility as the only machine a typical person needs.

  • While I like new toys why would I pay $600.00 for this when for $499.00 I can just get a Dell Laptop? I was looking at one of these a little while ago as I wanted something I could use for DVDs on trips and when I wasn't in the car and for something I use as a navigator in the car.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      You're paying for the smaller size...that kind of engineering isn't free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mollymoo (202721) *
        It's not free, but it is cheap. Smaller screen = less money. Small case means no need for a metal frame = less money. No optical drive = less money. Assuming these things are similar to my Eee they are incredibly basic inside - silver paint serves as a shield, one sheet of metal under the keyboard is the heatsink, even the trackpad buttons are on the motherboard itself instead of on a daughterboard. There is only one type of screw holding my Eee together. Compared to the other laptops I've been inside with
        • by cmat (152027)
          I'm sorry, I think you mistook "engineering" for "manufacturing". The first involves effort, problem solving and creative solutions to cramming X shit into 25% less space. The second is about reducing component size/quality/number to achieve a cost reducing for each unit built (and perhaps reduce the complexity of the unit being built and therefor reducing building costs).
    • by trongey (21550)

      While I like new toys why would I pay $600.00 for this when for $499.00 I can just get a Dell Laptop?
      Because it's not a Dell?
  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:24AM (#23587733)
    ...the "overclock" button was known as Turbo and the only reason we used it was because our 386's went too damn fast!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mr_mischief (456295)
      It was more of an "underclock" button. "Turbo" was whatever your system should normally run at. Turning it off made it clock down to AT speed so games with timing loops written to CPU NOOPs instead of using the system clock wouldn't be over before you got a chance to play.
    • by raddan (519638)
      The "turbo" button on my 286 functioned something like a "crash now" button would.
      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        The "turbo" button on my 286 functioned something like a "crash now" button would.

        You should sue Bill G. Sounds like prior art on the Win95 'Start' button.

  • $400 in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by assassinator42 (844848) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:48AM (#23588117)
    The Linux version of the Wind will be only $400 in the US [laptopmag.com]. Unfortunately, it only includes a three-cell battery, which is a deal breaker for me. I'd pay $50 more for a longer battery life, but apparently that will only be available on the "standard" $550 Windows XP model.
  • by pokeyburro (472024) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:48AM (#23588123) Homepage
    ...329 pounds doesn't seem very portable to me...
    • by trongey (21550)

      ...329 pounds doesn't seem very portable to me...
      Apparently you never carried around a Grid. For that matter, the Dell M60 I used to carry seemed pretty close.
      • Aye, never carried a Grid. I did, however, carry around my dad's Osborne 1. I think that came in at over 20 pounds. Of course, I was only ten years old at the time, so I didn't come in much heavier.
  • What? No SSD? ultra portable laptops are one of the few uses that a 16gb or so SSD is viable.
  • But, I really want a wind powered laptop.
  • Whilst it will be a small computer, the 10" screen is making it very close in size to a 12" laptop, which aren't that expensive these days. My old 12" iBook isn't that much larger, and it's probably faster to boot, so there's not much reason to buy this.

    The 9" versions are a little more desirable. I wish they'd make them slimmer.
  • Benchmarks? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tknd (979052) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @12:34PM (#23588949)

    FTA:

    Most impressive of all, however, was performance. We didn't run any benchmarks, but the MSI Wind felt extremely snappy in general use...

    How can you claim performance is good without running quantitative benchmarks?

    I am interested in the performance of the new Atom processor because it uses a new chip design that prioritizes cost (to manufacture) and power efficiency, but not necessarily performance.

  • My first reading of the title:

    First reviews of the MSI Wind Powered Laptop
  • Antique analog VGA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by orangepeel (114557)
    Is anyone else frustrated to see analog RGB/VGA as the video output method for an external display? Isn't this supposed to be a cutting-edge laptop? It's 2008. It should have DVI (or even the easily converted to/from HDMI). Are there really that many people left who have access only to a dinosaur CRT or an oddball LCD that allows only for an analog signal?

    And while I'm at it, I'd be interested to hear other people's perception of the oversized backspace key (yeah, I know, this is at the bottom of the
    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @01:39PM (#23589987) Homepage Journal
      I'm with you on the VGA output. DVI, however, is a bit too big to consider on a laptop, so IMHO they should switch to HDMI instead (which is probably where computer monitors are headed anyway).

      As for the enter/backspace key, I hate those huge L-shaped enter keys and a regular-sized backspace key is a problem. In fact, on my Apple keyboard right here, the delete key is just a tad shorter than the return key.

      If you rarely use backspace, more power to you. But for the rest of us, a regular-sized backspace key would be too much trouble. In fact, I'd even say that if you can't hit a non-L-shaped enter key, you're the one with a problem.
      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        I'm with you on the VGA output. DVI, however, is a bit too big to consider on a laptop, so IMHO they should switch to HDMI instead (which is probably where computer monitors are headed anyway).

        DVI is slightly bigger than VGA, but it can include VGA signals as well.

        • by MBGMorden (803437)
          DVI can imbed a VGA signal on some pins, but as the other user posted: HDMI is smaller than either, AND can carry audio output as well. It can be converted directly into DVI with just pin remapping, and in the event that some user doesn't have DVI or HDMI, a digital signal can be converted to analog (VGA) more efficiently then an analog signal can be converted back into digital.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBGMorden (803437)

      And while I'm at it, I'd be interested to hear other people's perception of the oversized backspace key (yeah, I know, this is at the bottom of the list of considerations for purchasing a new laptop, but I've got lots of free time to kill today). I've always preferred keyboards with a large "L-shaped" Enter key, and a standard size backspace key (so that the \| key is right at the top row, between the =+ key and the backspace). I've never really understood why some people like to shrink the size of a heavily used key (Enter) to make room for a key that is rarely used (backspace).

      Personally, I consider what they have on that laptop the "standard" layout. Microsoft uses it, Logitech uses it, my HP laptop uses it, and whatever cheapo OEM made this Dell keyboard that I'm typing on now uses it.

      I'm surpised that there are actually people that prefer their keyboard any other way :).

      Personally, I tend to mentally seperate my keys by rows. A key should never span more than one row, so the "L" shaped Enter key is an immediate abomination. The standard size shown on this laptop keeps it

      • by H0D_G (894033)
        nah, real reason you need a big L-shaped enter key is to play frets on fire.
  • Intel is really pushing Atom now; just last week I went to an Atom seminar for embedded computing folks. They claim 1GHz+-class performance at 3W power usage; I was impressed by a motherboard running a GPS/car automation type realtime app, where not only there was no fan or even a heatsink, but you could touch and hold the finger to the CPU.

    They didn't want to say what's the unit price, but it probably won't be in low single dollars like with some ARM variants (STM/LPC)
  • I don't mind lower hardware specs or a smooshed keybaord.
    However, Before I plunk down my cash I want at least a 1280x768 resolution screen.
    1024x600 is smaller than the old beater I'm using now.
  • OK we saw the Air and now we have the Wind.

    Who's up for earth? Dell for some reason comes to mind. Something to do with dirt I think.

    And who better for a laptop Fire than Sony?

  • No - however, laptops based on the Via Nanobook reference design, such as the Acer Cloudbook, etc, are. Yes, it is $100 USD more than the cheapest Eee - however, unless people are fine with only having 2gigs of flash memory, I'd say 100 bucks more for a 30gig hdd and slightly larger screen is worth it. I know that not everybody (especially mass orders) can't afford that hundred each, but considering that the equivalent priced Eee only has 4gigs of ssd (if that?)...
  • Oh lookie... We've finally brought computing all the way back to the Apple IIc !

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