A Closer Look

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

With the release of the Atom processor, Intel has helped manufacturers create a new notebook computer market segment called “netbooks.” MSI has jumped on the netbook bandwagon with the Wind Notebook U100 and aims to blow ahead of the competition.

The MSI Wind NB U100 proves to be a very usable system that delivers on many promises. Our review unit came with the 3 Cell lithium-ion battery, which offered us about 3 hours of usable life. Users can stretch that time out by disabling the wireless transceivers, diming the screen and using a few other power-saving tips. MSI also offers a 6 Cell Lithium-Ion battery that adds about a third of a pound of weight to the system, while extending battery life to near 7 hours of use. The higher capacity battery is probably a worthwhile option and helps to deliver "all-day" computing and make the device truly portable.

MSI was able to cram a near full-size keyboard into the system. The keyboard, despite being about 20 percent smaller than a typical notebook keyboard, lent itself well to touch typing, offering acceptable feedback with very little flexing. Pointing chores are handled by a touchpad integrated into the palm rest of the system. While usable, the touchpad seemed to have a cheap feel to it, only exasperated by single full-length button that served double duty for left clicks and right clicks. A traditional dual mouse button setup would be greatly preferred.


Performance-wise, the system was surprisingly quick and offered an overall PassMark Rating of 207.4. Bootups took less than 30 seconds and we were able to launch multiple applications, while still surfing the Web. The unit does not offer an integrated optical drive, so those looking to install applications from CDs or DVDs will need to use an external drive. Luckily, the U100 features 3 USB 2.0 ports, so hooking up an external optical drive should be no big deal. The U100 features a pair of stereo speakers, which are surprisingly loud, and an integrated microphone. That combined with the built-in Web camera makes the U100 usable as a Skype (or other service) video chat system.

Testing with various online applications, such as Google docs, Google Mail, Zoho Office, Skype and a few others, showed that the system was up to snuff when it came to Web 2.0, SAAS or cloud-computing solutions, and perhaps that is the best configuration for the U100.  



MSI’s take on the Atom processor and sub-note market is sure to make other vendors stand up and notice. Currently, the only other two big names in the Atom netbook market are Dell and ASUS, but others are sure to follow. What remains to be seen is if the companies are willing to move over to cloud computing solutions, which will surely fuel the growth of the netbook market.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...