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MSI Wind U135: Pine Trail blazer

Behold the Wind U135. It's the first netbook we've seen to use Intel's next-gen, 1.66GHz Atom N450 processor, a clever little chip that gives this device several advantages over its predecessors

Rory Reid
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The netbook market was pretty devoid of innovation throughout 2009, but 2010 could herald change if MSI's newly unveiled Wind U135 is anything to go by. It's the first netbook we've seen to use Intel's next-generation, 1.66GHz Atom N450 processor, a clever little chip that gives devices such as this several advantages over predecessors.

The N450, part of a platform code-named 'Pine Trail', takes the separate CPU and graphics cores of the old platform and places them on a single chip. This takes up less space, allowing netbooks to be even thinner, but there are performance benefits, too. The latest Atom has a lower thermal design point, allowing the U135 and its ilk to run cooler, consume less power and have a theoretically longer battery life.

That's the theory, anyway. The reality is that the U135 doesn't do a great deal differently to netbooks running on the old Atom platform. MSI says the U135 has a 9-hour battery life, which is impressive, but this is fast becoming the norm on today's best netbooks. The chassis, meanwhile, is less than an inch thick, but our jaws don't drop for anything less than half that.

That's not to say the U135 is a bad machine -- far from it. The chassis feels well-built, its 10-inch display looks sharp and its Sony-style chiclet keyboard is pretty darned fabulous, with good spacing between the keys and a pleasing, positive spring action.

MSI has yet to confirm when the U135 will launch, but we've heard word it'll cost around $330 (£210), so it could be one of the more affordable Pine Trail Atom systems on the market. Hit the 'Continue' button below to have a gander at some of our hands-on pictures.

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The U135 is pretty lightweight, at 1.1kg. Inside, it uses the fancy new 1.66GHz Atom N450, plus up to 2GB of DDR2 memory.
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The chiclet keyboard is reminiscent of those on Sony or Apple laptops. It's surprisingly comfortable to use and very responsive.
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The left side is home to a couple of USB ports and an exhaust vent.
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The right side sports a third USB port, a multi-format card reader, twin audio jacks, a D-Sub video output port and an Ethernet jack.

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