MSI Releases Wind U135 Netbook

MSI-Wind-U135-2Micro-Star International (MSI) is known among enthusiasts for its graphics card designs and motherboards.  However, the Taiwan-based OEM makes a variety of other products including servers and barebones PCs.  Among its most successful entries outside the component market has been the MSI Wind, a netbook.

Now MSI has refreshed its popular design, releasing a new version, the MSI Wind U135.  The specs on the netbook are pretty standard — Windows 7, 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, a 160 GB or 250 GB HD, a choice of several colors (Silver, Charcoal, Ruby and Sapphire).  The netbook’s new ECO engine features five modes — Gaming, Movie, Presentation, Document and Turbo Battery — which help conserve power.

What is important about the new design is that it sports a brand new type of Intel Atom processor, which Intel codenamed Pine Trail and announced on December 21.  The new processor, the Intel Atom N450 drops power consumption from 11.8 W to 7 W for the entire kit (including integrated graphics).

A shortcoming of the platform is that unlike NVIDIA’s Ion and Tegra products, it does not have HD graphics built in.  Integrated graphics on the platform are driven by the Intel GMA 3150, a 45 nm die-shrink of Intel’s ubiquitous GMA 3100 chip.

Moving on to the netbook’s peripherals, look, and feel, the new netbook features a 1.3M webcam, D-Sub port, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a mic jack, a headphones jack, and 4×1 card reader.  The keys on the keyboard have been expanded 20 percent, making it easier to type for those not naturally endowed with tiny fingers.  The notebook measures 12.22″x8.87″x3.35″, weighs 2.4 lb for the 3 cell battery variant and 2.6 lb for the 6 cell variant.

Its battery life in six cell form comes in at an estimated 7.5 hours, putting it perhaps behind behind the Eee PC, which claims 14 hr. on a 6 cell battery.  Real world testing, though, shows that the Eee PC’s (1005 edition) actual battery life is closer to 8 hours, so the pair may be closer than the claimed battery performance indicates, though the Eee PC is expected to lead, at least slightly.

wind-u135The MSRP is $309.99 for the 3 cell variant and $329.99 for the 6 cell variant with 160 GB and 250 GB hard drives, respectively.  This makes it cheaper than most of the Eee PCs currently offered, though one Pine Trail Eee PC (the white 1001P) is retailing for $299 on (it has a 160 GB HD).

The netbook features is currently available on Newegg.  It’s going to face tough competition as HP (HP Mini), Toshiba (NB305), Acer (Aspire One), ASUSTek (Eee PC), Samsung N150, and Gateway (LT series) have all released N450 designs.

Ultimately, the MSI Wind U135’s strengths and shortcomings are signs of things to come for the netbook industry.  With the power draw of the processor (CPU, IGPU) reduced dramatically, the display is quickly becoming the limiting obstacle in terms of power and battery life.  Physics and chemistry dictate that it hard for displays to get much more efficient while maintaining brightness, without switching to pricey new technologies like OLED.  In the meantime, pressure is on battery makers to achieve higher battery densities.


Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.

Here are the best laptop deals for December 2018

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some holiday shopping for a special someone, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

You could spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or buy one of these awesome laptops instead

Finding a decent laptop is easy, but finding one under $1,000 is a bit tricky. Luckily, we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking out a budget laptop. Here are some of our favorites, the best laptops under $1,000.

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.

The DualShock 4 is one of the best controllers ever, and you can use it with a PC

Sony's new DualShock 4 controller has become a fan favorite, and some people want to use it with a PC. Here's how to connect your DualShock 4 and start using it, either with an official adapter, or unofficial software.