How do you start a review of your own child? Hehe! It may sound like the over exaggeration of a technophile with too much time on his hands, but I feel like I do love this wonderful little machine! I take such excellent care of it that, still being childless in the human sense, I have almost adopted this little baby of a netbook as my own flesh and blood, or is that circuits and oil? I don't know, anyway, on with the review!
Now before anyone gets an embolism in frustration, my model was equipped with XP and not Linux, I admit that. However, no other model on Dooyoo matches the specifications of my model more accurately than this one, save for the operating system. Operating systems are a fairly fluid part of a computer's make-up, so I hope you find it justifiable for me to write my review here.
I am absolutely astonished by what I was able to get for my money with this little machine. At the time, I paid around £220 for this, but I think now you can get the same specification for around £180, maybe less if you look hard enough. That is an absolute bargain for what you get, there's no two ways about it!
On the outside, the form factor of the netbook is incredibly small. I remember opening it up for the first time and thinking 'this can't be right!'. If you're used to regular sized laptops, it may come as a bit of a shock! Now it's not as thin as the outrageously expensive Macbook Air, but I don't always think being thin is a virtue (in man or machine!) What may cause you a bit of frustration is the 6 cell battery which mine came with. It will cause the laptop to thicken by an extra inch or so, but it does mean that your laptop is at a constant angle - for me a benefit when it comes to typing, for others, this may be a source of irritation.
The lid is a beautiful shiny black with a very attractive MSI logo, much nicer than the tawdry offering still being slapped on the front of many a model coming out of this Taiwanese company. Such a shiny lid will attract fingerprints, but I find a quick wipe with a cloth always suffices. The laptop feels surprisingly sturdy, even though it is something of a 'flat pack' laptop in a sense - it is very easy to take apart if you need to, for an upgrade etc., so long as you are careful. As for ports, a VGA port, 3 USB ports, an SD card slot, ethernet port, microphone and headphone jack and the obligatory power port make up the offerings on the sides of this netbook. Some would argue for an HDMI output, but quite frankly I'm not sure that this little beauty could support such a demanding method of visual output.
The trackpad is small, I won't lie. It takes a bit of getting used to but it can be done and after a little bit of adjustment you'll find you hardly even notice the difference. The mouse buttons are, for their part, a little on the shoddy side. Both left and right buttons act on a 'pivot' and after time and use, the buttons may well lose their 'click' on pressing, which is frustrating. The mouse buttons and trackpad also have a tendency to lose their black colour after repeated use, which can make the netbook look a bit shoddy. I get the impression however that this netbook might not have been designed for the huge amount of use I give it!
As for the keyboard, well... It's small. You will adjust to typing on it, and if you're a touch typist, it may speed up your typing! There's a lovely array of function buttons assigned to the 'F' row at the top of the keyboard that can be accessed by pressing the Function key a the bottom left of the keyboard. One word of a warning though: The control key has been switched with the function key, so you will (as I still do) think you have copied something (Ctrl+C) when in fact you've not done anything! A small problem, but arguably an unnecessary one? Who's to say, I really do love this little thing...
The Intel Atom is paraded around as the weak, sickly child of the Intel family. It isn't going to break any world records, that's for sure. But the amount I've been able to achieve on this machine is unbelievable! I actually wrote a dissertation on this machine whilst abroad, and had hundreds of windows open, and it still didn't spontaneously combust! It doesn't like multitasking though in all honestly. It will zip by quite nicely playing games (I have had Sims 2 running on this, and Train Simulator!) and doing work etc., but it won't like you trying to force too much on it at once. You may find yourself waiting ages if you ask too much of it. Look at it like a meat mincer. Be steady with it and no problems. Throw half a cow in it and you'll clog it all up!
The most amazing feature (in my mind) of this netbook is the 'Turbo' mode. There is a function button that overclocks the processor from 1.6Ghz to a princely 1.9Ghz! It may not sound like a lot of difference, but it is! The netbook suddenly seems like it's been given a few shots of expresso, and everything speeds up! It's a marvellous feature that I try not to overuse. I know that MSI engineered in this overclocking, but I still don't feel too comfortable about pushing this machine too fast for too long!
With an ample 160GB hard drive and 1GB ram, you'll find that Windows XP has no problem on this machine. It is fast, responsive, and pleasant. Personally, I have put another 1GB of ram in this machine, which has meant I can do a bit more multitasking, but I can't say it's made the world of difference to performance. I have tried other OS's, one being Windows 7 Home Edition. It worked surprisingly well, but I'd recommend 2GB ram at least (but 2GB is all this baby can handle!) There's nothing wrong with Windows 7, but I prefer the blistering speed of XP, and the fact I can put XP into windows classic mode to save on desktop space, and that's something you'll probably want to do...
The screen is... petite! You can fit the whole width of the webpage onto one screen, which is a plus, but not a lot of the page will actually be visible. You'll have to get used to scrolling down and up, there just isn't enough room on screen. The vast majority of programs will run without a problem on this 1024x600 resolution, but some programs (such as the Talk Now series of instructional language CD-ROMS) have a tantrum and refuse to work. There is a convoluted way of making the display 1024x768, but then you'll need to scroll just to see the entire desktop. It isn't practical. All in all though, you'll enjoy watching movies on this thing, but don't bank on watching HD movies. It won't happen. The processor and graphics card will struggle on any HD content, even after using the turbo function. Without paying a bit more for an external CD-drive, you're not going to be able to use CD's on this device - there isn't the room to fit a drive in! I did buy one, but rarely use it. For the technically minded, use ISO files, otherwise just use a memory stick!
With a good 4.5 hours from the 6 cell battery, and a reasonable 2.5 hours from the 3 cell, I can only strongly endorse the purchase of the MSI Wind. I almost spat my tea out when I saw the price of the iPad. Why bother? This is practically a fully functioning laptop, with a keyboard, mouse, webcam and bluetooth (yes, bluetooth!) for less than half the price! It will quickly become your best friend and, as in my case, your little baby who you genuinely couldn't bear to be apart with! Hehe!