MSI is a frontrunner in the netbook world, whose machines are some of the most preferred on the market. The Wind line has been there since the beginning, taking a big slice of the consumer pie even to this day. It doesn’t look like the MSI Wind NB U100 is going anywhere soon, but that doesn’t mean MSI’s been slacking off. Enter the MSI Wind NB U120H, coming January 2009.
While slim is in nowadays, the second Wind model has put on some weight since its first version. It is slightly thicker but makes up for it by tightening up the design. While the first Wind was rounder, the new one has sharpened its edges and has the feel of a thinner netbook.
Not much has changed inside the machine. The new Wind shares the same platform and chipset as the U100 – the Intel Atom. The new U120’s been benchmarked at about the same speed as the U100.
One big update is that the U120 comes loaded with 3.5G HSDPA capability. The ability to get that kind of connectivity while mobile is a big upside of new machines, and as a result, 3G is becoming more and more standard with newer netbooks. We’ve heard a few complaints about the slot for it, which hides behind the battery pack, but if you aren’t the type to go switching around your SIM card all the time it won’t be an issue for you.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Expect good things all around from the U120’s keyboard and trackpad. It’s easy to type on a Wind, and the keys are soft, well-placed, and feel nice. The right Shift is further in than usual in order to place the arrow keys, but it’s a minor adjustment.
The trackpad’s been improved to include two separate buttons instead of the single-button style of the U100. MSI’s keyboards and trackpads are always usable, so the changes to the U120 are for the better.
MSI WInd U120
Battery performance is a big issue for netbooks and can be the deal-making factor when it comes time for consumers to choose a machine. Unfortunately, the U120’s 6-cell battery lasts around three hours. Three hours is a good amount of time but is more appropriate for a weaker 3-cell. Other netbooks on the market last 5-6 hours on a 6-cell, so the U120 suffers from inefficiency.
- Great keyboard and trackpad
- Sleeker design
- 3.5G for boosted connectivity
- LCD screen leaves little to complain about
- A bit heavier this time around, though not terribly so
- Inefficient battery
- Costs around $600
From a strictly technical perspective, the MSI Wind NB U120H is a welcome update to a successful formula. Nothing has really suffered in this version, and anyone who purchases the netbook will be happy with it.
The real problem here is money. Sure, they added 3.5G, but they also added to the price tag. The netbook will stay alive for a good 3 hours, which is decent for standard use, but you end up paying for a 6-cell battery that should really be giving you two or three more hours of work time. Considering that the Wind U100 only costs $350 at Best Buy right now, I doubt it will be worth it to consumers to spend $250 more just for mobile connectivity.
Don’t get us wrong – the MSI Wind U120 is a great netbook. It’s just too expensive for what it can do and is going to need some price cuts before it’s worth the money.
UPDATE 2/13/09: The Wind U120 has gotten a serious price drop as well as a new charcoal design since the writing of this review. It’s definitely become a more viable candidate for your hard-earned dollars, so be sure to check it out!