The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
This MSI Wind comes in many different flavours, the version I have is the Advent 4211. A rebadged MSI Wind by PC World.
The MSI Wind is part of a new wave of "SSCs" (Small Cheap Computers). Low powered computers sold cheap. In general they come in two sizes (8" and 10"), most use the with the same hardware under the hood. The current standard is a Intel Atom 1.6GHz, between 512 MB and 1GB of RAM and a Intel 945 graphics adapter. The different brands then change the quality of the screen, rearrange the keyboard and increase or reduce the build quality.
The MSI Wind is a on the high end of specifications range, with 1 gig of RAM (upgradeable to 2) and a 10" screen. This provides the tiny little machine with more than enough umpf to do some demanding tasks well above the stated use of web browsing and checking email. I have run some fairly weighty applications and it handles them in its stride. Until I tried a modern game. While the CPU is for its size is impressive the graphics card is very poor. I was not expecting it to run X3, I am disappointed it can not handle Halflife2 - a four year old game. Especially as on paper it should
be able too.
The version I have, a Advent 4211, while it has a high specification at £280 it is cheaper than most. So corners have been cut, the most obvious is the cheap quality of the screen (and I don't just mean small, one has to accept small when dealing with Netbooks). The second place noticeable cheap point is the internal speakers. My mobile phones internal speakers sound better and have a high max volume. The overall build quality is also affected. It is not badly build, but the plastic is has a "SmartPrice" quality.
On such a small device, the keyboard and mouse pad need to be well designed to be usable. I'm not a fan of mouse pads, but this one does move mouse cursor when you ask it to, and not (as I find with some) when you are typing. Plus it has the buttons in the correct place, under the mouse pad. The alphanumeric section of the keyboard is a good size but alas the "lesser used" keys such as punctuation are 1 /2 sized which I find a tad irritating. Plus the control and the Function button are the wrong way round. I end up with c, x and v's filling my documents as I fail to copy and paste.
The battery is a small 3 cell job. Very light (as is the rest of the machine) and easy to fit but a real pain to remove. For normal use on the move this seams to be adequate, I used the device for 2 and a half hours on a long trip, and it still had juice left. I have also done some more formal tests. I played a standard definition video full screen in a loop and unplugged the power supply. It lasted a respectable 78 minutes. When running on battery it has a rather neat "Low Power" mode that dims the back light and sets the CPU to half its normal running speed. I re-ran the experiment in this mode but with the screen of full brightness - however got only 80 minutes of life.
The shipped software is lacking, consisting of just the god-awful Microsoft Works and the OS+drivers. But with Open Office a free download I see no reason to stick with Works. A device meant as a "Internet terminal" should ship with firewall and anti-virus software, but alas both are missing.
For a netbook it is well connected with three USB 2.0 sockets (two on the left and one the right), a SD card reader, a standard VGA connector, Ethernet (all on the right), blue tooth and WiFi (G not the new N). I've only used the WiFi a few times but it found a signal quickly, and connected without issue. Unfortunately one of the USB ports has become a little temperamental and will not accept every device I plug into it. It is fine with my mobile phone but ignores my mouse and DSL modem. It also comes with two standard-sized audio jacks. By default this is mic and headphones, but the audio drivers will let you change them and asks you what you have plugged in each time you plug something in. A feature I found pointless, and luckily you can set defaults. You might have noticed that most of the connections are on the right. On the left side between the two USB ports and the power port is a large air vent from which you can hear the fan whirl when you ask it to do something CPU heavy.
Overall I really like this machine. It is just the right size to put on airplane table, runs all the applications you need and looks great, if a little cheap. Sure I'd love it to play HalfLife 2 but it is under the magic £300. However I can only recommend one if you are in the market for an ultra portable. If not then you can buy a desktop computer for £300 that would blow this out of the water.