The MSI Wind U100 was the undisputed king of the netbook market in 2008.
The inclusion of Intel's first-generation Atom processor, coupled with a market-leading 10-inch screen, made the Wind U100 the best of a very large bunch.
Multiple OEM re-badges, several minor upgrades and 18 months later, MSI has just announced the hotly anticipated MSI Wind 12 U200 follow-up.
Things have moved on a lot since the original Wind stole the netbook limelight. The market is a lot more mature, and the number of netbook and nettop products out there has increased massively.
So if the Wind 12 U200 is going to impress as much as its predecessor, it's going to have to do something pretty special.
The first thing of note with the Wind U200 is that it has strayed well and truly into notebook territory. Is this a netbook or a notebook? We're still not sure – mainly because of its high-end (for netbooks, anyway) spec and its price.
It certainly looks the part – it's a great looking machine, and one of the best looking netbooks (if that's what it is) yet.
Firstly, this laptop isn't powered by an Atom chip. Its 12.1-inch screen is actually driven by one of Intel's consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) Core 2 Solo SU2500 CPUs. The Core 2 Solo is effectively a dual-core chip with one of its cores disabled.
The chip clocks in at 1.4GHz, and we'll bring you some benchmarks as soon as we've been able to give the machine a proper test.
The Wind U200 also comes with 2GB of DDR2 memory and about 260GB of storage across two drives. Complementing that are three USB 2.0 ports, SDHC card reader, VGA-out and more interestingly – HDMI out.
It's pretty heavy too – the 6-cell battery sees to that, but the chassis also has to be bigger to incorporate the 12.1-inch LED-backlit screen and the Core 2 architecture.
It weighs in at 1.4Kg - 200g heavier than the original Wind which is good going considering the increased size.
MSI reckons that the CULV processor, coupled with its own ECO Turbo Battery mode, will enable a battery life of 6.5 hours.
Maybe the inclusion of an Atom chip instead of Core 2 Solo would have extended that, but the performance boost you get as a result is well worth it.
And talking of performance, the model we were sent is rocking full-blown Windows 7 Home Premium – none of that Starter or Home Basic nonsense to be found here. And it runs like a dream, too.
Browsing Windows 7, there are no lock-ups – it's an entirely smooth experience – but frankly, any less would have been a major disappointment, being that this machine will cost at least £399.
Graphics come from an integrated Intel chip, so playing games is still out of the question. But games are not what netbooks are supposed to be about. It does at least handle the Aero interface with ease, so no worries there.
The keyboard –as we've come to expect from an MSI – is well put together and nice to type on although there is a bit of give which makes it slightly spongey.
So all in all, the MSI Wind 12 U200 is a sexy little number. We'll be giving it the full-blown TechRadar treatment in due course, so stay tuned for a full review.
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