Mini Laptop Review – MSI Wind U160-007US
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MSI is probably not the brand you think about when it comes down to netbooks but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have their own interesting models. One of these is the Wind U160-007US that came out a couple of years ago, a netbook that at the time of its launch was one of the fastest in the segment and also has a great battery life that made it stand out against the other similarly priced netbooks.
Launching a basic netbook is not rocket science because all you need to do is put in an Intel Atom processor, Windows 7 starter, 1GB of RAM and a 250GB SATA hard drive. This is what most of the companies do, including Acer, HP, Asus and the rest of the crowd. MSI has been from beginning a player in this market and its Wind models have used the same recipe that the competitors used. Nowadays we have newer, more powerful CPUs, but the recipe has remained essentially the same.
However, this U160-007US is a little bit more special than the netbooks of 2010 because it has a tremendous battery life, managing to last for more than seven hours, plus the performance is equally impressive. The bad news is that this additional boost of performance doesn’t make a noticeable difference in day-to-day use.
We have another bad news as the great battery life comes at a price because it sticks out quite a bit from the bottom of the chassis due to its huge size. When it came out, the MSI Wind U160-007US was considerably more expensive than other similar models, priced at $380.
Under its hood there is an Intel Atom N450 processor clocked at 1.66 GHz and comes with 1GB of DDR2 memory running at 800 MHz. You will be able to save your files on the 250 GB Serial Ata hard drive that spins at a speed of 5,400 rpm. MSI installed an Intel NM10 chipset and an integrated Intel GMA 3150 to handle the graphics power.
The netbook measures 10.2 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches and it tips the scales at 2.7 pounds (or 3.4 pounds if we take into account the AC adapter). One of the available finishes for this netbook is called Fancy Gold which is actually a glossy dark brown look that makes it stand out from the rest of the models in this segment which have either a matte or a glossy finish. Opening the netbook reveals a lighter gold , along with the company’s logo which is cut into the back of the lid and it is also backlit in white.
The MSI Wind U160-007US has a regular island-style keyboard which seems to be pretty comfortable. However, you will probably notice a little bit of flex under the fingers around the middle, while the shrunken right Shift key is way too small.
As for the touchpad, this consists of very small raised dots in the wrist rest, much like the ones found on the Asus Eee PC models. Don’t expect to get a scroll bar section on the right side because it has scroll points located in the top and bottom right corners. What you will have to do is hold your finger on the corner and after that the page will automatically scroll up and down.
This netbook comes with a regular 10.1-inch widescreen display that has a native resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels which is pretty much standard among non-premium netbooks. Given the low resolution, watching HD videos on this tiny display isn’t a thing we recommend but it may work for some people.
As far as the connectivity aspect is concerned, it comes with VGA in the video front, while for audio you get headphone and microphone jacks. For data you get three USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader, while for your networking needs it has Bluetooth, an Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Even though the performance offered by the Intel Atom N450 is similar in just about all netbooks out there, the one hiding inside this MSI Wind seems to be a little bit faster than its competitors but you won’t probably notice this while working on the netbook. Since we’re dealing with a low-power system, don’t expect any real performance when it comes down to doing basic multi-tasking.
Let’s talk more about the highlight of this netbook which undoubtedly would have to be its great battery. Fitted with the regular 6-cell battery, the MSI Wind U160-007US will survive for approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes during a video playback test, which is an excellent performance. Other top performers regarding the battery life would have to be the Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 and the Asus 1005PE. The bad thing, as we previously mentioned, is that the huge and bulky battery sticks out from the netbook’s back in an obvious way, while the batteries that the Asus and Dell models have do not stick out at all, as the manufacturers managed to incorporate the batteries in the design of the netbook’s body.
All things considered, if you don’t have the money to buy a brand new netbook, you might check out a used MSI Wind U160-007US, especially one that comes with a good battery. For basic tasks like office work or web surfing while on the go, a netbook is a pretty competent solution, especially one model that comes with such a great battery life like this model.
Some of the other models that you might want to take into consideration are the Sony Vaio Eco VPC-W212AX, the Samsung NB30, the HP Mini 210, the Asus Eee PC 1005PR or the Fujitsu LifeBook MH380. All these models share the same configuration: Intel Atom N450 clocked at 1.66 GHz, 1024MB of DDR2 SDRAM 800 Mhz, Intel GMA 3150 with shared system memory and a 250GB hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm, except for the HP and the Samsung models which have a smaller 160GB hard drive rotating at the same speed as the others.