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First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook

We dropped into MSI’s headquarters in Taiwan this morning to get some hands on time with its new Wind PC. For those unaware of its importance, it’s not only MSI’s first netbook but also one of the first to carry the Intel Atom processor.

Having played with the Eee PC and quite frankly, finding it much too small to be comfortable, the 10-inch Wind was a real pleasure to use without crippling my hands into looking like a lobster claw (fingers all pinched together).

The Wind will launch in plain white, but will also have the option of these cool tattoos. Now, not being one for art splashed over the cover of electronic gadgets I have to say (while reaffirming my masculinity here) that it looks awesome.

Another thing the Wind has over the Eee PC is the fact it feels like a quality product – with the Eee, you’re aware of the (inexpensive) price you pay in the feel of the plastic. I have to say that it’s even got a less cheap plastic feeling than MSI’s notebooks that are twice the price.

First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind
First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind

Inside is where things get a little different however – there’s a normal mechanical hard drive instead of an SSD, meaning it’s noisier than the Eee. It also noticeably weighs more too – with the Eee you’re barely aware that you’re holding it because it weighs less than 1kg, however the Wind has more substance to it. That’s not to say it’s heavy at all, oh no, you can easily fling it around on the balls of your fingers if you wish. The weight, since you asked, comes from the Wind's bigger battery – it comes with a six-cell Li-ion as standard.

First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind

Connectivity comes in the form of a VGA socket, headphone and microphone 3.5mm jacks, Ethernet (so it’s already better than the Air – yes, I went there), an SD slot and three USB ports. It also uses a fan though – on the left hand side is the vent. In comparison the Eee PCs mostly just use the metal keyboard underlay as a heatsink to keep your fingers warm and a tiny fan only activates when the CPU reaches 55C.

First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind First Look: MSI's Wind sub-notebook MSI Wind

It comes with XP Home installed, and there's also the option to have SuSe Linux instead of Xandos like on the Eee – we only used an XP machine and its well... just like Windows XP to be honest. Its performance should match VIA C7 parts – very usable for basic stuff, but it’s not a lightning rod in your lap.

We shouldn’t really be comparing the Eee to the Wind though – they aren’t direct competitors, MSI explains. While my first thought was “not trying to compete with an established fanbase?”, it’s more along the lines of the more features cost is more and the quality is far higher, although it’ll be good to see how Asus launches the 10” version of its product soon.

However, if the MSI Wind doesn’t hit a certain price point with competition from HP’s Mini-note and Dell’s new upcoming mini-model, the Wind could be left out in the cold. In addition, MSI also stressed a slight concern about the global supply of Atom processors given the massive all round demand for this new market to a level that Intel wasn’t expecting.

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