MSI Wind U160 review

Full review Affordable netbook with 15-hour battery

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Portable and stylish netbook with outstanding battery

The humble netbook has come a long way since it's birth in 2007 with the Asus Eee PC. Intel Atom processors now ensuring you can get a portable and affordable laptop without compromising on battery performance.

One of the new breed of netbooks is the MSI Wind U160, running Windows 7 Starter Edition, and with battery life of 15 hours. Is this the perfect travelling companion? Or is the netbook obsolete following the success of the Apple iPad?

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Weighing 1Kg and measuring just under 2cm deep, the Wind U160 is very portable, slipping easily into a day bag. It's also compact enough to use on the train, sitting on your knee or tray table as you type.

Choose from Fancy Gold or Jet Black shades, our review sample was the former and rather more brown than gold, while not to our tastes it's certainly more eye catching than many of the current netbooks.

Despite the small size, the keyboard is excellent, following the Chiclet style where each key is individually raised, with space in-between. In our experience this means less typing errors, as you're less likely to accidentally hit an adjacent key. We have no issues with the touchpad; it's decent size and responds well.

MSI Wind U160: Battery

The highlight of the U160 is the six-cell battery, which MSI claims can last for a whopping 15 hours. During our tests we got an impressive 380 minutes DVD playback, in standard mode with WiFi on and the screen at medium brightness.

Conserve even more power by swapping between five modes optimised for different use, including: gaming, presenting, word processing and movie watching, with Turbo Mode conserving the most power.

Not everyone will like what MSI calls 'the rod-type screen hinge design,' basically the six-cell battery juts out from the back of the notebook. In practice it actually elevates the back of the notebook, making typing more comfortable.

MSI Wind U160: Screen and processor

The 10-inch 1024x600 LED backlit screen is adequate for the odd spreadsheet session and browsing, if a bit low res, although there's little issue with reflections. Movie playback isn't outstanding; colours are muted and detail is a bit soft, but for the odd film it's fine.

Running an Intel Atom N450 1.6Ghz processor with DDR 2GB RAM, you'll be able to run a couple of browser windows, swap between email and Word documents and listen to music without much trouble. Unsurprisingly, it struggles streaming HD content from BBC iPlayer and with integrated Intel GMA 3150 graphics, this isn't designed to be a gaming laptop.

Connections include: 3x USB, VGA and an SD slot. Alongside WiFi (b/g/n) and Bluetooth. Storage starts at 160GB and we'd suggest opting for a minimum of 250GB.

With its excellent battery, very usable keyboard and striking design, the MSI Wind U160 is one of the better notebooks we've seen recently. The screen is a little low res, but if you're looking for a portable computer for day-to-day tasks, this is well worth a look.

The MSI Wind U160 is available now, find out more from MSI.


OS: Win 7 Starter
Processor: Intel Atom N450 1.66Ghz
Screen: 10-inch LED, 1024x600
Storage: From 160GB
Graphics: Intel GMA 3150
Battery quoted: 15 hours
Battery tested: 6 hours 20mins
Connections: WiFi (b/g/n), two in one card slot, 3x USB, VGA, Bluetooth 2.1
Dimensions/weight: 265x165x19.8mm/1kg