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MSI Wind U130 and U135 with Intel Atom N450: Cheap netbook alert

Intel's crazy new Atom N450 chip promises to make netbooks even cheaper than they are today. MSI's leading the charge with its U130 and U135 netbooks, from just £230

Just bought yourself a new netbook? You might want to look away now. Intel has just announced something pretty rare in PC Chip Land -- a new processor that brings the graphics and memory controller on to the chip. "So what?" you're probably asking. Well, it means we're about to be party to a maelstrom of cheap-netbook announcements. Ah, here comes one now -- ladies and gentlemen, we give you the MSI Wind U130 and U135.

The flatulently monikered netbooks cost just £230 and £280 respectively, which is bargain-basement territory for a portable computer with a 10-inch, LED-backlit screen. The new Atom N450 is the smallest chip made by Intel, and its integrated nature means that netbooks can be made for even less than today's prices, as what used to take two chips now only takes one. Fewer pieces of expensive silicon inside a computer equal a cheaper machine, and one that also consumes less power, making for longer battery life and less heat, so each netbook can be made smaller.

The compromise, as ever with netbooks, is speed. The N450 has just 512K of L2 cache and runs at 1.66GHz, so, to some extent, what it gains in cheapness it loses in performance. Even so, this should be enough to run basic Internet apps, office programs and suchlike on something like these Wind netbooks, which have Windows 7 Starter pre-loaded.

Both Winds have a 1.3-megapixel webcam, and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, along with face-recognition software. The difference between the models is slight -- the more expensive U135 has a 250GB hard disk, compared to the U130's 160GB version, and is available in silver, black, red or blue, whereas the U130 comes in black or white.

Expect similar announcements of cheap netbooks using the new N450 from the likes of Asus, Acer, Dell and pals any day now. Here's a video of a charming lady explaining more about the processor.