So far then, we haven’t been particularly impressed with the
design of the MSI WindPad 100W. But we’re willing to put up with an ugly
exterior if there’s enough beauty under the hood. Unfortunately, the Windpad
falls down here too.
The WindPad’s processor is one of Intel’s Atoms –
specifically the single-core, 1.6GHz Z530. This CPU is quite simply not up to
providing a smooth Windows experience for any but the lightest workloads, and as
soon as you have a few windows open you’ll start to notice lag. To be fair
though, if all you’re doing is working on a word document while browsing the
web and checking your emails, everything will run just fine.
Graphics are handled by Intel’s integrated GMA500 solution,
meaning that even where the CPU can cope, all but the least demanding 3D games
will be unplayable. On the other hand, when using compatible media players the
GMA500 does allow silky 1080p video and Flash video playback, with the latter being
a tangible advantage over Apple’s iPad and iPad2.
Thankfully, MSI has backed its somewhat underpowered CPU choice
with 2GB of DDR2 memory (far more than most netbooks, with even the recent Toshiba NB550d only offering 1GB) and a generous 32GB SSD. Just keep in mind
that Windows will use a lot more of it than Android would, leaving you with
less usable space (around 13GB).
Another positive difference to the average netbook is that
MSI provides a full version of Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, rather than the
Starter edition. On the wireless front it
offers both Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 2.1. There’s a SIM card slot suggesting the
presence of 3G, but actually the tablet doesn’t have a 3G module and – as we
discovered the hard way – putting a card in this slot will result in it falling
into the WindPad’s innards (at least we discovered it’s quite easy to prize the WindPad 100W apart and get to its guts). It would be nice if MSI put a little warning
sticker on this slot for those too impatient to read through the manual.
Other touches that set this device above your average
netbook are a brightness sensor which controls screen brightness automatically
depending on ambient light, and dual 1.3 megapixel webcams (one at the front
and one at the back) for video calling and augmented reality applications.
Connectivity is also quite good. On the tablet’s left we
have audio and video outputs in the shape of a 3.5mm headphone jack and mini
HDMI connector, which should (in theory, at least) let you output 1,080p to an
external display. There’s also a full-size SD card reader, which offers cheaper
expandable memory than the Micro-SD slots on many tablets, and will let you
plug your camera’s cards directly into the device.
In a nice touch, MSI has included physical Wi-Fi and
Bluetooth buttons, which join the slightly recessed power button at the
device’s top. On the right you’ll find a single USB 2.0 port, which lets you
hook up anything from memory sticks to peripherals. These are significant
advantages compared to either iPad, but whether they will be enough to make a
difference will depend on the rest of the WindPad 100W.