Get an MSI Wind Netbook for only $349

A great price for well-reviewed Netbook that's missing only a couple minor features.

The MSI Wind has been around a long time by Netbook computer standards and generally gets good reviews. Laptop magazine, for example, loved it. Back in July, CNET gave it 3.5 stars out of 5.

The model CNET reviewed was, at the time, $479. It ran Windows XP, came with an 80GB hard disk and included Bluetooth networking. If you can live without Bluetooth, you can now buy a very similar model, the Wind U100-420US, with a 120GB hard disk for only $349. For that price you get a gigabyte of RAM, an Intel Atom processor, a 10-inch matte finish screen, Windows XP Home Edition, and a reasonable keyboard (all Netbook keyboards involve trade-offs).

This is a great price for a well-received 10-inch Netbook. Less than a month ago, it was $399. Laptop magazine referred to the price as "amazing" but warned, as did CNET, about the 3-cell battery. As Netbooks go, a 3-cell battery is bottom-of-the-line and generally doesn't offer much more than 2 hours of run time. That said, the Wind is able to toggle between a high performance mode and a slower mode designed to extend the run time.

MSI

In comparing the cheaper U100-420US with the more expensive U100-016US model, Liliputing.com also points out that the cheaper model doesn't offer gigabyte Ethernet. I think it's a great trade-off.

Both Liliputing and Laptop magazine blogged about the machine being available at Best Buy. However, my local Best Buy didn't have it on display on Sunday, and the Best Buy Web site currently shows the machine as being back-ordered.

The Wind U100-420US is also available, for the same price, at Newegg. It must be new there too as there aren't yet any customer reviews. However, the very similar U100-016US model has 23 reviews.

The Wind U100 is very similar to the Asus Eee PC 1000H. Last month Liliputing ran a detailed comparison of the two machines. If you're in the market for a Netbook, it's a worthwhile read.

Compared to the Acer Aspire One

On a personal note, this kills me. I very recently purchased an Acer Aspire One (AA1) for the exact same price. The Wind U100-420US is a much better value.

For one thing, it has a 10-inch screen versus only 9 inches for the Acer Aspire One. Also, the Wind screen has a matte finish (which I prefer, but opinions vary), the Acer screen is glossy. My recent posting Choosing a Netbook--a picture can be worth a thousand words illustrates the difference between a 9-inch glossy screen and a 10-inch one with a matte finish.

If the AA1 has a battery-saving low power mode, I haven't run across it.

The Wind keyboard is larger, I find the keyboard on the AA1 to be just a bit small for my adult-size fingers. According to Matthew Miller at ZDNet, the MSI Wind Netbook doesn't compromise on the keyboard.

The mouse buttons on the Wind are also better positioned. They are under the touchpad, where most people prefer them. I am not alone in disliking the button placement on the AA1 (instead of being under the touchpad, the buttons are on either side). Also, I use the Page up and Page down keys a lot and they are better positioned on the Wind keyboard.

You get the idea.

There is, however, one thing to be on the lookout for. Dave Winer had a hard time getting his Wind to connect to a couple of different Wi-Fi routers. In the end, he returned the computer.

Just for the record, I have no relationship at all with MSI, Best Buy, Newegg, or Acer.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

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About the author

    Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

    He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.

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