MSI Wind: Hands-on, with exclusive photos

We've just had an exclusive hands-on with the MSI Wind, and by golly it's good. So good, in fact, that it could take the throne from the Asus Eee PC as the best mini laptop on the planet

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We've just had an exclusive hands-on with the MSI Wind, which we liked the look of in March, and by golly it's good. So good, in fact, that it could take the throne from the Asus Eee PC as the best mini laptop on the planet.

It's ever so slightly larger than an Eee PC, and slightly heavier at 1.3kg, but don't let that put you off. It's still super-portable and once you see the confirmed specs -- and the extra tricks up its sleeve -- you'll be craving one, too.

We can't talk about the CPU yet -- it's top secret -- but we can tell you it's very quick and very power-efficient. What's more, the CPU can be overclocked by about 20 per cent using a dedicated button and MSI's TurboDrive Engine -- which we saw on the TurboBook GX600. The Wind will also sport 1GB of RAM, an 80GB mechanical hard drive, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, three (count 'em) USB ports, a D-Sub video output, a 4-in-1 memory card reader, and a 3-cell battery with a claimed life of 3-4 hours.

The Wind will initially go on sale with a 10-inch, 1,024x600-pixel screen. This, it has to be said, is very, very good, since it doesn't use that awful reflective coating we saw on the HP 2133 Mini-Note. MSI also plans to ship a version of the Wind that uses an 8.9-inch display. They'll both use the same chassis, so expect the smaller version to have a large, unsightly bezel around the screen.

The Wind will ship in both Windows XP and SUSE Linux guises, with the XP version costing £329. Pricing on the Linux model isn't yet confirmed, but it'll be significantly cheaper, obviously.

We know you have more questions, and we have the answers. Click Next Photo for tonnes more info, and bask in the portable glory that is the MSI Wind. -Rory Reid

Update: Read our full MSI Wind review here, watch our hands-on video here and discuss it in our MSI Wind forum.

Here's the box in all its glory. That ribbon isn't real, but it definitely gave us that early Christmas vibe.

We somehow managed to refrain from ripping the box to shreds, which is just as well -- we'd hate to break the Wind. We beg your pardon, we couldn't resist. Let's move on.

There's not much else in the box of our early sample -- but final versions will include a carry pouch, which will prevent the machine from being scratched to bits.

Here it is in all its Windy glory. The chassis looks a little more grown-up than the Eee PC. It's not as overtly sexy as the HP 2133 Mini-Note, but we like it.

Here's the left side of the machine. Not much going on here, except for the twin USB ports, a large vent and the AC adaptor socket.

Here's the front. Looks good, huh? Note the curved edges. And the lack of Windows Vista. That's the new hotness, right there.

On the right side there's a third USB port, a 4-in-1 memory card reader, mic and headphone jacks, D-Sub video output and an Ethernet port.

There's a set of eight LED indicator lights at the front edge of the chassis. These tell you the status of functions such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, hibernation status, battery, caps lock, num lock and hard drive activity.

Meet the 1.3-megapixel webcam. You can use this to take pointless MySpace self-portraints, or something more useful, such as video chatting with your family overseas.

Here's evidence it's actually an MSI Wind, and not something we knocked up with Play Doh. Happy now? Good.

The keyboard doesn't seem quite as good as the one on the HP 2133 Mini-Note, but it's miles, miles better than the one on the Eee PC 900. MSI says it's pretty much the same keyboard used on its larger laptops -- and that's no bad thing.

Here, the icon on the power button is backlit blue. But guess what: this changes to orange when you hit the blue/orange overclock button that doubles as F10. Yes, we said overclock. If the Wind isn't connected to the mains, the button switches the system into low power mode to extend battery life. Clever.

Here's the power adaptor. You won't have to take it everywhere you go, though -- MSI reckons the Wind can last about 4 hours away from the mains on the standard 3-cell battery. With a 6-cell, the company expects around 6 hours of life.

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