Taiwanese company MSI has been putting out its Wind netbooks since the birth of the mini machines back in 2008. The Wind U160DX is an update of the excellent Wind U160, and we like this new machine's usability and portability, even if it lacks excitement.

The original U160 stunned us with its excellent battery life and, while the U160DX can't quite compete with the Toshiba NB520-108 Packard Bell Dot SE, we were still pleased to get nearly eight hours of use away from the mains.

The 1.2kg weight is extremely light, although the bulky battery is a pain when squeezing this machine into bags.

We found the chassis to be sturdy, especially the solid lid which protects the screen during transport. While the plain black design does little to stand out, we liked the chunky brushed-aluminium hinge with the power button built into one edge.

MSI wind u160dx

The display tilts back to a comfortable degree, although viewing angles are excellent so it hardly matters. We liked the bright screen, which lacks the sharpness of the Dell Inspiron Duo and Acer Aspire One 522, but is still satisfyingly vibrant.

However, as with many other netbooks, the glossy Super-TFT coating means you'll be squinting to see when outside.

Usability is also impressive, thanks to a firm isolation-style keyboard. The keys stick up through individual holes cut in the chassis, which nicely separates them, while preventing dust from infiltrating the netbook's innards.

We reached some excellent speeds when touch-typing, with minimal mistakes. The bevelled touchpad is also satisfyingly responsive.

As with the other netbooks, performance is limited. Anyone who wants to check emails and edit spreadsheets on the move will be happy, but multi-tasking with a number of applications slows everything down and there's no power for gaming or watching HD video.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 461 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 71
3DMark 2003: 691

There's also no DVD drive, a feature missing from all of the netbooks due to their small size.

Minimal features

Netbooks aren't usually brimming with features and the MSI is no real exception. The 2-in-1 card reader can be used to copy photos and other files directly from your portable devices, while 250GB of storage offers a decent amount of space for storing files.

Networking capabilities and ports are standard, with room to connect a VGA display and three USB peripherals.

While the Wind U160DX doesn't stand out in terms of design, performance or features, it's still a sturdy and highly portable netbook with an excellent battery life and a well-laid out keyboard. However, it doesn't quite do enough to warrant a What Laptop award.

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