My Travelling White Angel (MSi WiND)
+ Connects instantly to previous networks; 1kg easily carried; WindowsXP; Big Keyboard; Bluetooth; Has Intel® Atom™ inside
- Pre-installed Office 2007 Professional w/60-day trial; MSi Q-face; Function Key
Micro-Star International WiND U100 10-inch Netbook
Wireless Network Device with Bluetooth
Colour: Angel White
Genuine Windows XP® Home Edition
10" Widescreen LCD (non-glare) Backlit Display
Ergonomic Big-Size Keyboard and Touch Pad
3x USB Sockets
Integral Webcam 1.3mp
Memory Card Reader Slot .
What was wrong with your old laptop?
I suppose this review will come as no surprise to the many members who have put up with my comments (and occasional moans about keyboard sticking and lack of memory) about my husband's Dell Latitude CPx Laptop which has been my only source of Internet access at home ever since ORANGE decided to split their ADSL to ADSL2 necessitating a change from the USB SpeedTouch modem to the Ethernet connection of the LIVEBOX . The Laptop was cumbersome and heavy. It had a tendency to overheat, and about a year ago the battery decided to stop charging, meaning that if there was a power cut I no longer could continue working even if I was not online, and I lost my work. The keys were sticking and either skipping or doubling letters; Internet Explorer was running out of memory and apologetically closing regularly; the case was developing a few cracks, didn't close properly, and, quite frankly, was showing its age.
Quite apart from all that, the 11.24 GB hard drive 128mb RAM laptop actually didn't belong to me
I have always been the main user (I had appropriated it very soon after my husband bought it second-hand in December 2003), but although I had been the person who had helped keep it in running order, sorted out any difficulties whether technical or functional, "Dell" actually belonged to my husband. Admittedly, I was the (only?) person who understood the way he functioned, regularly deleting temporary internet files and defragmenting to keep him running as smoothly as possible, and trying to pacify my husband who was also getting very impatient at how slowly the laptop was responding. In particular, Flash adverts made pages very slow to load, and occasionally the IE to crash. Every 'Critical Update' installed by Microsoft just aggravated the problem as more and more of the Hard Drive was being filled.
So Why Hadn't I done Something Sooner?
There were several good reasons
- Fussiness: I certainly did NOT want Windows Vista, particularly before all the problems were sorted out. I was relatively happy with WindowsXP and familiar with it;
- Features: I wanted Wireless, Bluetooth, easy-to-use (and easy-to-read) Keyboard, multiple USB sockets, easily carried (the Latitude was HEAVY); I also wanted to be able to easily read webpages.
- Finances: I just couldn't afford to buy what I wanted;
- Familiarity: I was used to the Latitude, and despite its shortcomings, it was doing its best, both at home and (connected to suitable power supply) out-and-about, at least for word-processing, with Office 2003.
- Finally, my disabilities: I wanted to be absolutely certain I would be happy with a new machine before I got it.
And then the day came when 'Dell' refused to turn on when I pressed the power button. He made a whirring noise, tried to start, and gave up. I had gone to the trouble of bringing him out with me and I had wasted both time and energy because nothing induced it to turn on that day. I nearly cried with frustration. Since then, it has remained at home, needlessly using electricity on standby once I got it on again, being tenderly nursed into its last days while I frantically tried to get a replacement before it was too late.
MSi WiND Notebook
I had been looking on websites at laptops and in stores over the last year. I had even considered buying a mobile broadband contract (with free laptop) and tried various laptops and netbooks within the mobile phone shop. The laptops were still either cumbersome and difficult to use, were missing important features, were too expensive, or all three. Looking at options in Staples (next door to Lidl) showed me that a 10" screen was a possibility, although I did not like the small black keys on the available option (the only WindowsXP OS offered), and I wasn't sure about the size of the text on the screen. I did not have the £300+ available to pay as a lump sum either. Ideally, I wanted to keep my Microsoft Office Professional 2003 (having mainly used Word, Excel and Picture Manager on the laptop), but I knew that was a highly unlikely possibility. Mainly Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 was being recommended at Staples (and included as a special deal), but I wasn't quite sure what was being offered, and wasn't able to ask the questions to which I needed answers.
Then an e-mail from a 'portal' site directed me to a discount site on the 8th July 2009, where the MSi WiND was offered. I received an introductory discount, and a special bundle price to include a tech air (up to 10") Notebook case with lockable zip, padded carry handle and adjustable shoulder strap. And I was given an interest-free three-instalment payment option on my purchase exceeding £100. Fortunately I resisted the temptation to purchase 'extended warranty' as the internet supplier has gone into 'provisional liquidation' according to the heading on the website.
On Thursday, 9th July, my new 'toy' arrived ~ in quite a large brown packing box.
I kept the carrier waiting as I opened the package to check that it was all there, and all in perfect condition. There was a lot of huge-bubble plastic cushioning the contents: a Tech-Air case, and the compact blue box containing my new notebook with accessories. I hadn't realised that the Notebook came with its own protective sleeve case (black reinforced and lightly padded fabric with a soft lining and extra compartment, with velcro fastening). This was in the compact blue box, along with the Notebook, 3-cell battery, Power cable, System Backup Disc and Utilities Disc. Also included in the box were the Fold-out glossy Quick Start Guide in 9 languages with diagrams and explanations on the front and pictures and explanations of the buttons and 8 LED lights on the back (It also listed accessories and pictured the main 10 quality tests they have done ~ Most impressive!), and the 2 Years Limited Warranty Service Book (8 languages). Everything appeared to be there, so I signed the delivery note. They used 'Home Delivery' rather than Parceline, CityLink or other carriers with whom I have had issues in the past. He was quite gracious, and allowed me my time to be satisfied.
Now we begin!
Once inside my living room, I installed the battery, attached the two-part powercord/adapter, plugged it into the mains and opened the Notebook. The keyboard was all I had hoped for! As my arthritis means I no longer even pretend to touch-type the slightly smaller punctuation keys which enable the letter/number keys to be pretty near full sized didn't bother me, although, if you are a touch typist I expect it would get some getting used to. I have attached pictures of relevant details. It was slightly more difficult to get used to the new function key which must be pressed with the relevant key (with blue symbol or word) to do certain jobs which would have their own key on a standard laptop. It also was interesting to use a rocker-bar instead of buttons with the touchpad. But in the nearly three months I have been using the Notebook I have come to a quiet understanding with my notebook. If the cursor starts wandering while I type, [Fn + F3] disables the touchpad so I can type normally. I miss this with an errant mouse on the library PC or my husband's laptop now. [Fn + F3] restores the touchpad when I've finished. [Fn + F11] activates and deactivates wireless and Bluetooth features ~ you can use either, both or neither by repeated use. The 10" widescreen displays a webpage clearly; in fact, I could still see the entire width of this review with 150% magnification (will add picture later), although I usually have it on 125% as default.
I set up three separate profiles: one with Yahoo.co.uk as default internet home page (for my friend to access e-mails), one with both my Ciao profile page and hotmail.com as home page tabs, and one which merely goes to the Windows Live sign-in page for my husband to access his e-mails. This way, I can switch users while working without risking someone accidentally closing something I'm doing without properly saving.
Battery time (using original 2200 battery) is just under 2hrs when using internet, although it would last longer if both wireless and bluetooth were disabled and you are just wordprocessing. It is quite quick to recharge once power cord is plugged in, however.
Operating System and Software included
This has WindowsXP Home, with Service Pack 3. It came pre-installed with Microsoft Office Professional 2007 with a 60-day free trial. I finally activated the free trial and have been informed the trial will expire 30th November, so I have been allowed slightly longer than the 60 days. I'm not really impressed with the special features and changes, and have been using it in compatibility mode. Even so, the punctuation mutates when copied into a review, so I need to save the punctuation for 'typing in the box' once I'm getting ready to post the review. There is Winzip, a magnifier, an impressive audio interface and an integral web camera (which I have yet to use). There is something which is called MSi Q-face which I find totally incomprehensible and which, annoyingly pops up on the screen like a little smiling creature; then says something about capture device already used or something and displays pictures in a grid like an iPhone and just refuses to go away. Games and access to a "Windy-zone" are also included, but I have steadfastly ignored them so far. It was not pre-installed with anti-virus (as far as I know) but I installed a freeware version of Avira Personal (which has 10yrs experience of free anti-viral programming) with which I am (so far) happy.
I have bought Office 2007 Home and Student (with 3 licences) as I mainly only use Word Processing and Picture Manager; it includes Excel and PowerPoint (which are the other applications I occasionally use).
- I'm really pleased with the speed of operation and the wireless.
- I have no sooner turned the machine on than it has connected to the nearest network to which it has ever been linked. This is usually even before I have even chosen which of my three profiles to use. It searches for networks by default.
- Of course, it has more than 10 x the HDD of the Latitude, and 1GB RAM (where I only had 128MB), so it is amazingly fast to me!
- Weighing less than 1Kg, it is so easy to use. I have even read reviews on Ciao while balancing it while lying down in bed.
- I can easily carry it in the case over my shoulders when I go out without it interfering with my using my sticks, unlike the Latitude.
- It is very easy to type: I love the creamy-white large clearly labelled keys which are easily pressed.
- Easy to read webpages on 10" widescreen non-glare back-lit LCD screen (at any angle)
- It turbo-charges the battery, so it is recharged quickly.
- I can transfer pictures via Bluetooth directly from my phone and edit them.
- It is robust and classy looking both.
- good sound quality through integral stereo speakers (either side of base at front)
- It is only a notebook, so it does not have a CD-ROM/DVD Drive, athough an external one can easily be used via one of the 3x USB 2.0 sockets.
- The Keyboard will require getting used to if you are a touch-typist.
- MSi Q-face (Whatever it is meant to do) is just annoying with no explanation of what it is meant to be or do. [UPDATE: I finally managed to disable Q-face and uninstall it!]
- The function [Fn] key is where the [Ctrl] key is usually, with [Ctrl] key beside it.
- Standard 3-cell Battery only lasts about 2hrs or less before needing recharge (6-cell battery much better but I have only seen it offered with black version on Amazon).
- Trial version of Office 2007 ~ expensive to activate full version.
- Everyone else wants to borrow it!
[UPDATE: 5 DECEMBER 2011] . . . After nearly Two and a Half Years.
How is it working now?
I am still very pleased with my 'Travelling White Angel' as it is looking as good as the day I bought it. I have had some minor problems and frustrations with the mousepad this past year: It decided to stop working, however I have bought mini USB mice for less than £5 (each) from eBay sellers with which I am able to continue to function. My first was a standard USB wired mouse, but I found the long cord got in the way and made it less portable/usable. The second, with a retractable cord (£1.69 with free p&p), was initially quite good, but after less than a month stopped working, so I was refunded my money. Since, I bought a mini retractable USB mouse which I can even use against my thigh while using the netbook on my lap. Also, the mousepad has been working perfectly again for the last three months (stopped again this morning), so I am reasonably confident I shall continue to be able to use the notebook successfully.
Other modifications or accessories?
Since the beginning of the summer, the original battery has appeared to be 'tired' and I was unable to risk using it without the power supply plugged in, as it was giving me no warning before closing down and losing work, so I once more considered a new battery. I found a 6600 battery in WHITE suitable for the MSi WiND for under £40 on Amazon.co.uk, bought it after reading a few consumer reviews on Amazon (noting particularly the warning that the battery has quite a significant 'bump' and weight to it, making it more difficult to pack in protective carry sleeve.
This addition has added between 300 - 400g to the weight of the netbook, but also lifts the rear of the netbook on a flat surface, giving the keyboard a more comfortable angle for typing. In my Tech-air carrycase, it is no more difficult to transport than before, and I am getting an amazing improvement in battery life, being able to use the netbook all day without needing to recharge it. Depending on the activities I am doing, I can float the cursor over the battery symbol on the taskbar and see a 'predicted battery time remaining' from 6.21hrs to 9.39hrs at 97% on WiFi connection, and even better battery life when connected through ethernet cable at my daughter's house.
I have still not bought a USB DVD/CD ROM drive, so having to download Drivers/Programmes online can be a nuisance.
I managed to download drivers successfully for both my HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One Printers from the HP website, and other software required for other programmes.I had to download a 'trial version' of Office 2007 Home & Student, although I was able to immediately use the licence code sent with the software CD to authenticate my licence.
So do I Recommend it? . . . Well, it STILL suits me!
It is "made in China", but the warranty says that "this agreement shall be governed and construe according to the laws of Taiwan, Republic of China." (Chapter 4:Governing Law: Construe) Wherever built, it beats the specifications of some of the other available netbooks while not having an over-inflated price tag.
I paid under £270 for mine, in three instalments, so I believe I have excellent value for money. I'm satisfied at the moment.
Thanks for reading! © September 2009, [updated December 2011] ~~~ ♥jesi ♥