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MSI Wind U100-291UK - Exclusive Review - MSI Wind U100-291UK
On the software side of things this MSI Wind offers an odd mix of software that's not particularly well tailored to a netbook. For instance, the only productivity software available is a trial version of Microsoft Office 2007, while you're stuck with Internet Explorer 6 and Media Player 9, rather than more recent replacements, until you make the initiative to download the new versions yourself. This is joined by optional installations of Norton Internet Security 2008 and Cyberlink DVD Suite and it's just as well they're optional, since their use on a netbook is arguable.
By way of comparison, the Eee PC 1000H, which also uses Windows XP, comes pre-loaded with the Windows Live suite of software (Windows Live Mail for POP mail, Live Messenger for instant messaging, Live Photo Gallery for image viewing and basic editing and Live Writer), Microsoft Works for productivity and Star Office (Open Office). Of course, excluding Microsoft Works, all these can be downloaded for free anyway, but given many of the people buying netbooks these days aren't as familiar with such things, it's definitely an oversight on MSI's behalf.
So there you have it. The new version of MSI's Wind is identical to the old one, except you're getting a 160GB HDD, Wireless-N and of course that all-important six-cell battery for nearly five hours of frugal use. The main question left is price, and here too MSI seems to be on to a winner with an estimated RRP of £360 - the same outlay as for the 160GB version of the current model.
Compared to the Eee PC 1000H, the Wind offers double the hard drive size and a superior keyboard, while the Eee has a better touchpad and speakers, in addition to Dolby Sound Room technology. However, at 1.45kg, the Eee PC 1000H is significantly heavier, something that definitely tips things in favour of the MSI Wind.
Moreover, though prices on the Eee PC have come down a lot since launch (the 1000H is now available for around £320), the Wind is still the better proposition thanks to the greater portability, superior styling and better keyboard. In addition, it's conceivable that the price will reduce as retailers compete with one and other - something we've already seen with the majority of netbooks.
Indeed, the only other thing worth considering here are the potential competitors, the Samsung NC10 being primary among them. It not only matches the new Wind in specifications, but appears to have an even better keyboard, including a full-size right-shift and Ctrl-key on the outside of Fn. We'll have a review of this little beast as soon as it comes to market, so keep checking back!
Even at the £360 RRP, the new version of MSI's Wind is a very attractive proposition, offering some serious competition in the 10-inch netbook sector. Indeed, in this form factor, for the moment at least, it's probably the best netbook available so is well worth a Recommended Award.