By Evan Ackerman
I’ve been waiting for the release of the MSI Wind since back in June, but problems with the six cell battery and other unspecified delays have caused the Wind to be largely unavailable until only recently. I got my hands on one just a few weeks ago, and I have to say, it’s just about exactly what I wanted out of a subnotebook, which is honestly a bit of a shock considering how picky I tend to be about computers.
Specs and impressions, after the jump.
Here’s the rundown on the Wind:
Dimensions: 10.23in x 7.08in x 0.748in, 2.8 lbs
CPU/Memory:1.6GHz Intel Atom, 1GB DDR2 RAM @ 667MHz
Display: 10-inch, 1024×600 LED backlit
Hard Disk Drive: 80GB / 2.5” SATA (some now come with 120GB)
Card Reader: 4-in-1 (SD,MMC,MS, MS Pro)
Ports: 3x USB 2.0, Mic-in/Headphone, VGA Out
Webcam: 1.3 MP
Wireless: 802.11b/g, Bluetooth
I managed to find a Wind with a six cell battery (I got it from Q2Designs.com, but they’re out of stock on the six cells at the moment), which does in fact deliver a battery life of over 5 hours with the LCD brightness at half and the WiFi on. The LED backlit LCD is almost painfully bright at full intensity, so half brightness is really not much of a sacrifice to make for the additional battery time. The pre-production Winds featured both an overclocking and an underclocking mode for the Atom processor, but the production models only have the underclocking option (which also dims the screen further). I almost never use this, since although 1.6ghz is by no means slow, for a multitasker like me, I need all the processing speed I can get.
Usability of the Wind is very impressive. I had an Asus EEE before the Wind, and the Wind’s larger keyboard is making a huge difference (it spans the entire width of the case). I can touch-type without concentration, as the keys are a good size, well spaced, and feel solid. The only annoying thing about the keyboard is that the left side Fn and Ctrl keys have been swapped from what I consider normal; i.e. the Fn is on the outside. There is apparently no way to fix this, and it bugs me.
Speaking of annoying things, the touchpad has been changed on most production Winds from Synaptic (yay!) to Sentelic (who?). The upshot of this is that the trackpad doesn’t allow you to scroll by sliding your finger; instead, there are tap zones on the top and bottom right that you use to scroll. This, to put it mildly, takes some getting used to.
Really, though, these are minor problems. Overall, the Wind is just perfect for my purposes. It’s small and light, has astounding battery life, and it seems just as usable as my impractically large Sager laptop. It feels solid, it looks sexy, and if I decide to I can easily upgrade the HD and RAM by myself. I’d recommend it over the Asus EEE any day… True, it’s more expensive at $480 – $550, but I think it’s worth it.
If you’re thinking about getting yourself a Wind, you might want to check out the unofficial MSIWind.net forums, which has a section on where to find six cell Winds in stock. And if you have any questions about the computer itself, post in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.
[ MSI Wind ]