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Advent 4211 Netbook
This review might as well be called MSI Wind: a Second Look, because that is basically what the Advent 4211 netbook is, as we mentioned before. I know that's kind of spoiling the present a bit before it's opened, but thankfully the Advent does come with other software, a different finish and a more attractive price.
So basically, if you want the full lowdown and all the details of the hardware, head over to Andy's review of the MSI Wind. If you don't, here's a quick run-down. This netbook comes with a fairly good 10.1in screen with 1,024 x 600 resolution, an Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM (plenty for the included Windows XP, though more is always better) and, like the Eee Box I looked at recently, 80GB of hard drive space (obviously not solid state). It weighs 1.15kg with the provided three-cell battery.
The keyboard is also unchanged from the Wind, meaning it is a heck of a lot better than on any of the Eees - even the Eee PC 1000 (especially if, like me, you are a right-shifter) - but not as good as the superb example on the HP 2133 Mini Note. It does have the Fn key on the outside of Ctrl, but gives you reasonably-sized keys and an enlarged Enter key to make up for it. And unlike the Mini Note, the touchpad has its buttons underneath, rather than at its sides.
In terms of connectivity, it's nothing remarkable. Three USB 2.0 ports, one mini memory card reader that annoyingly doesn't support SDHC, 3.5mm audio in and out jacks, a network port and VGA out are joined by standard wireless.
But let's talk about the differences between it and the Wind, and how those differences position it compared to the competition. The most obvious one is price, but because it's so influential we'll leave that until last.
We'll start with what many will consider the least interesting side then; the software. Apart from the Windows XP operating system, productivity software is actually rather different. You see, while MSI gives you a 60-day trial version of Microsoft Office 2007, the Advent has the arguably less useful Microsoft Works 9 SE as its standard productivity suite. Those last two letters after the nine are significant, as they mean that this is a free, ad-sponsored version of Works, and that no matter what you're doing, a portion of the screen will be taken up by ads (they run from a cache when you're not online).
This might not be as much of a problem when working on a Word document on a 20in monitor with a standard 1,680 x 1,050 resolution, but on the Advent's small display where desktop real estate is already at a premium, it can be an issue. Frankly, you're far better off getting rid of Works SE and downloading the latest version of OpenOffice, which will give you a more flexible, comprehensive and less cluttered working environment.