MSI Wind U115-025UK- 10in Hybrid Netbook - MSI Wind U115-025UK

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell
Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score

6/10

Review Price free/subscription

While the hardware differs somewhat from a standard MSI Wind, the chassis doesn't and it's actually quite a significant failing. Indeed, looking at the U115 now makes one realise exactly how far netbook design has come in a year or so. Once upon a time the MSI Wind was deemed a cut above, now it's at best functional and at worst a little ugly.

This version is finished largely in silver and black, with a glossy patterned lid the only real attempt at some flair. Sat alongside an Asus Eee PC 1008HA, HP Compaq Mini 700, or even the relatively modest Samsung NC10 and N110, shows the U115 to be a somewhat unattractive and dull looking device. Likewise, though build quality is fair, the U115 feels quite cheap in comparison to any of the above, with some elements proving more pliable than we'd like.

Now all the above wouldn't be of such great concern were we looking at a bog-standard Wind, one that cost £250 to £300, but the U115 is £450! For that kind of money, extra features or not, we're looking for something a little more enticing than an anonymous silver and black slab!

It's not just aesthetically where the U115 is not quite up to scratch, the keyboard and touchpad could also do with some improvement. In fairness, the keyboard is still among the better ones in netbook-land, but its keys are a shade smaller than some and the layout has a few idiosyncrasies. These include the Fn key, which lurks outside the left-Ctrl key, as well as slightly narrower than standard comma and full-stop keys.

Like the keyboard the touchpad remains serviceable, but we've never quite understood why it's square rather rectangular - an aspect that would match the screen - while its buttons feel a little cheap. More worrying, though, is the lack of scroll support, which we can only surmise is due to economising on MSI's part. Again, such issues might have been tolerable if the U115 were priced like an ordinary netbook, but it's not.

No real complaint can be made of the U115's connectivity, though it's no different to any other netbook. This means three USB ports, a memory card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, a VGA output and an Ethernet port. Another element that hasn't seen an upgrade are the speakers, which are fairly weedy but just about sufficient for the occasional online video clip.

Verdict

MSI should be praised for the idea of a hybrid netbook and the battery life results demonstrate that this part of the U115 is a success. However, despite a decent feature set, £450 is far too much to ask for an otherwise uninspiring netbook.

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Ohmz

May 26, 2009, 5:14 am

Looks like manufacturers have forgotten what a netbook was supposed to be.





So this a $700 netbook? What the hell happened to the $300 netbook?





If I wanted a bit more power I'd opt for a proper thin and light like this one http://u.nu/5ud7





And I don't get the argument that it's smaller and lighter so you have to pay more for it. Absolute nonsense in my book! Like a 4 pound notebook is significantly harder on the back than a 3 pound netbook.

Ohmz

May 26, 2009, 7:40 am

Oh wow I made a grammatical error! Oh the irony! :)

basicasic

May 26, 2009, 1:13 pm

£450 for a netbook! Has the world gone stark raving mad?

Andy0d2

May 26, 2009, 3:54 pm

For this money it should look the seashell and have a touch screen an optical drive and the hybrid storage

Epic

May 26, 2009, 3:55 pm

Assuming it's the same touchpad as on the bog standard Wind netbooks you can get a replacement Windows driver that brings scroll functionality and other settings. See msiwind.net. The touchpad is still not brilliant though.

TheVoice

May 26, 2009, 5:34 pm

Netbooks are getting far too expensive. Surely the entire purpose of them being produced in the first place was to offer low-cost, portable systems that were smaller, slower and cheaper than normal notebooks? Instead, it seems like they're just getting bigger, more expensive and slightly better-specced, whilst becoming essentially the same price as a full-size notebook that full-size performance and features.





It's good that Dell have realised that there is a market for the ~£200 netbook by releasing the Mini 10v, but it seems every other manufacturer is just driving up the cost by making them better (and consequentially, more expensive) than they actually need to be.

Andy Vandervell

May 26, 2009, 7:19 pm

@TheVoice: You're quite right, though ironically I think some this has been in reaction to consumers. After all, we regularly see people commenting that they want a netbook with HD video, or an HD screen and so on and so forth, but the same people will probably complain when the price is suddenly much higher. It's a vicious circle all this.

pimlicosound

May 26, 2009, 7:39 pm

@Andy: It shouldn't be the same people complaining both ways. That would be ridiculous. I'm on record as having said I'd happily pay £500-600 for a laptop (call it whatever you want) in the approx 10" form factor with enough power to play Flash video properly, with a solid keyboard and which doesn't look like a piece of plastic junk.





There should still be a place for budget netbooks, but I don't understand why so many people are complaining about the existence of better specified, higher priced netbooks. Surely there's a place for products at both ends of the market.





And to pre-empt the retort that for £500-600 I could get a proper 15" notebook, I don't want one. Too big, too heavy, too short battery life and so too pointless for me.

Andy0d2

May 26, 2009, 7:57 pm

The problem is is that it doesn't cost another £150 for an 8gb flash drive I mean an 8gb flash card can be had for under ten pounds so one that's fit for a netbook cannot be more than £50 as standalone manufactures have announced 16gb drives that boast 100mb/s read write speeds that this certainly doesn't have at about £50. Therefore MSI are taking a massive profit from this version.





PS there would not need to be any space issues since touchscreen controllers/usb hubs used in mods take up far less space than this.





PSS Is


1/2gb ram


2ghz processor/ 1.6ghz dual core


32/64gb ssd (above 50mb/s)


ION


touchscreen


good keyboard/track pad


good looks (<3cm) and less than 1.5kg


really too much to ask for by Christmas 09 with windows 7 for £500

TheVoice

May 27, 2009, 1:59 am

@pimlicosound: Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there shouldn't be higher-end netbooks available (although just how much higher-end they are over the standard ones is debatable), I just think that the manufacturers have lost sight of the purpose of a netbook and have all but abandoned the lower-end of the netbook market.

Leonardo

May 27, 2009, 5:02 am

@TheVoice: There can't be much profit to be had in the lower end of the netbook market, it only makes sense for a huge manufacturer and distributor like Dell to get involved in that sector in a big way. Technology is always moving forward and the manufacturers are trying to innovate in order for their product to stand out.





I'm in the market for a netbook right now and I would be willing to spend up to £500 on one if it was worth it. My priority is the ability to decode 1080p HD in order for it to double up as a media center, as well as being under 1.3kg and over 6hrs of battery life for mobility and a very good keyboard, screen and touchpad as it will see plenty of use

Ed

May 27, 2009, 2:40 pm

@Andrew Violet: While I'm sure you're correct to a certain degree, one really can't equate the cost of a flash drive to the extra cost of this netbook. For a start there's the change in chipset that you've completely forgotten about and Intel may be charging more for this. Then there's the fact the whole machine would have to be retooled (this isn't just a Wind with bits tacked on, despite how it looks) which adds to development and construction cost, then there's simple economies of scale. MSI is probably producing far fewer of these than its other netbooks (or any other manufacturers netbooks for that matter) because it knows this is a niche market so production costs are kept relatively high.





The fundamental mistake MSI has made here is not charging too much (for the reasons stated above) but rather not taking the opportunity to rejig the design so this looks like a premium machine - if this looked like the Asus 1008HA (sea shell) but still had all its features, I think there would be far fewer complaints.

pimlicosound

May 27, 2009, 8:30 pm

@TheVoice: your comment begs the question of what is the purpose of a netbook? The purpose you ascribe to it likely doesn't match my purpose. A low-cost, budget netbook might suit your purpose. It doesn't suit mine. We shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that netbooks exist to serve one purpose only.





To elaborate, you, like many other people, might have looked at the first netbooks and thought, "great, finally I can buy a real computer for less than £200". And that became its purpose to you.





When I saw the first netbooks, I thought, "great, finally I can buy an ultra-portable computer for less than £1,000".





You can see how our different interpretations ascribe different purposes to netbooks, and so we look for different things in the development of netbooks. You would like to see the netbook market develop towards lower-costs. I would like to see it develop towards premium features, while remaining comfortably beneath the magic £1,000 entry point of the traditional ultra-portable market.

Andy0d2

June 11, 2009, 3:11 am

@ed If you read my post you would understand that the flash itself would cost MSI about £50 maximum and i'm pretty sure that this is by no means a complete retool since they can easily use the spare mini pci-e slot used in the mobile broadband versions. Hell I could probably make this netbook for £350 using an 8gb ssd and a mobile msi U100 or any mobile broadband netbook for that matter! There would be no chipset problems whatsoever however the bios would need to be tweaked for the low power mode

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