Hands-On With the MSI Wind U120, Specs Now Official

Yesterday, the MSI Wind U120, that we have been hearing about for a few months now, popped up at an MSI event in Taiwan. Those who don’t read Chinese are in luck since MSI was nice enough to send us a pre-production unit of the system, which is due to hit U.S. shelves in mid-December. A few weeks ago, MSI’s Andy Tung told us, the MSI WInd U120 will differ from the original Wind in that it will be aimed more at the business segment. With a different industrial design, the Wind U120 will offer integrated mobile broadband in a choice of either WiMax or HSDPA flavors. Our pre-production unit didn’t have these features and MSI is currently finalizing what the specs for their U.S. SKUs. Update: Since we first posted this hands-on, MSI has issued a press release with final specs.

MSI U120 NETBOOK

CPU

Intel® Atom™ Processor 1.6GHZ

Chipset

945GSE + ICH7-M

Graphic

Intel GMA950

Memory

DDR2 6673 MHz 1G On Board

Display

10” (1024 x 600) LCD, LED Back-lit saving

HDD

160 GB (2.5” SATA)

Card Reader

4 in 1 (SD/MMC/MS/XD)

I/O

D-Sub x1, USB 2.0 x 3, Mic In, Headphone, RJ45

Battery

6-Cell

Wireless

8.02.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V2.0EDR Intel® WiMAX Technology / 3.5G (HSDPA) Solution

Webcam

1.3 M

Sound

2 Speakers

Dimension

10.23” x 7.08” x 0.38” ~ 1.29”

Weight

~ 3 lbs (w / 6-Cell Battery)

We have gotten a solid look at the hardware of our pre-production Wind, which only makes us more excited to see the final unit in a few weeks. See our impressions and the first video of the Wind U120 below. 2/1/08: See our full review of the MSI Wind U120 here. Updated Design The Wind U120’s design is a fresh look for Wind fans, but isn’t quite as snazzy or slim as the HP Mini 1000 or the Eee PC S101. Nevertheless it is sleeker than the original and forgoes its rounded edges for a squarer shape with cleaner lines that’s reminiscent of Samsung NC10. A white glossy lid covers the outside of the netbook and when opened is offset by a black glossy screen bezel; the white on black coloring of our unit reminds us Adidas Samba sneakers. Though we can’t say the design hits the ThinkPad mark that MSI mentioned to us, it is definitely a step up from the original’s more consumer look and is a netbook that we wouldn’t mind carrying around. Same Keyboard, Improved Trackpad We were big fans of the MSI Wind U100’s keyboard. The U100 was, after all, the first netbook with a 10-inch screen which made the chassis big enough for an almost full sized keyboard. MSI hasn’t made any noticeable changes to the keyboard on the Wind U120. The white matte keys offer good feedback. One of our complaints about the first Wind was its single bar mouse button. MSI improved the buttons on the U120 by including dedicated right and left mouse buttons with a silver coating. The buttons are comfortable, but do make a loud clicking sound.

10.1-Inch Display The Wind U120 has a 10-inch matte display with a 1024 x 600 resolution. As on the orginal Wind, images appear bright and crisp. Colors popped when we watched a clip of the Daily Show.

Above the display is a 1.3-megapixel webcam that took really clean shots of us with the preloaded EasyFace Manager, MSI’s proprietary facial recognition software. We aren’t positive this feature will be bundled with final systems but we were able to enroll our face and log in to the system with our mug.

Basic Performance We cannot talk much about performance at this point since our unit is pre-production and doesn’t have all the final components.  However, a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and 1GB of RAM power its Windows XP Home operating system.Given that the U120 has the typical netbook specs, it performed just as we would expect, opening and closing programs at a decent rate and managing Web browsing in Firefox 3 and writing a document in Microsoft Word 2007. The netbook should be available with SSD options but our version had a 5,400 rpm 160GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue hard drive. We don’t know for sure whether MSI will continue to use the Scorpio Blue in production models, but we hope so as this is the same make and model that helped the Lenovo S10 ace our file transfer test. We won’t test battery life until we get the final unit but the system we have now sports a 6-cell battery. The Wind U120 should also sport wireless 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. When we connected to our office network pages loaded quickly. Early Verdict Our first look at the MSI Wind U120 has us excited for what MSI is promising in the final production unit. Until recently the MSI Wind was our favoriate netbook, but then the Samsung NC10 arrived on the scene with a stronger battery life and an even sleeker chassis. Will the Wind U120 rival our current category favorite? If MSI works in some pretty neat features into this netbook, including advanced mobile broadband connectivity and a solid state disk drive, it could very well reclaim its position as our favorite 10-inch netbook. If you are waiting for that perfect netbook, you may just want to hold off until the U120 is ready for its debut. [flq:7112bcaab89d4b7e9dfdd94ef29acfa7]

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  1. Fanfoot Says:

    Sorry, but as a 2nd version this should be better. Yes it looks relatively nice, but these things should be moving a little by now. Don’t these guys feel the competitive pressure?

    Right shift key wrong on the 2nd gen? No acceptable. Move the cursor keys down a row and leave the right shift key full size. Others have already done this. Come on! (Yes, I know this is still better than lots of netbooks…)

    USB ports on the front? These should be in the back like everybody else. At least one of them…

  2. john laptop Says:

    thank you for this info.

  3. toni Says:

    I think the sentence “That damn Shift key is still to the right of the Up arrow though!” was supposed to be in the Asus 1002HA-review, not here. Since on the included picture of the U120 you can clearly see a big Shift key on the left side of the Up arrow.

  4. Robin Says:

    You are talking about the right shift key right from the Up arrow but the picture that is shows does show the opposite.

  5. Joanna Stern Says:

    Robin: You are totally right. Changed. Thanks!

  6. Francis Says:

    The issue with the up arrow key position is that it cramps the keys to the left. The comma, period and slash keys are smaller than standard, which significantly reduces the usability of an otherwise good keyboard. In fact, it’s a deal breaker for me. I would switch to the Samsung NC10 for that one reason.

    It should be dead easy to move the up arrow key out of the way: after all, you have to reconfigure the keyboard for different languages.

  7. Edward Says:

    So I have a quandary. I am on a 1-2 month trajectory for buying a netbook.

    I follow your excellent reviews closely.

    Samsung NC10
    HP MINI 1000 (assuming a decent 6 cell will be available for it)
    MSI Wind u120

    If you can only pick one, which one is it?

    Any other contenders

  8. Andrew Says:

    Thank you!!! Can you tell anything about the touchpad, which was a shame in U100. Does it have a full scroll feature?

  9. A-DI Says:

    I am a MSI Wind U100 ower, honestly, I love it.
    The U120 looks pretty good, I think I will give it a try.

    Samsung NC10
    HP MINI 1000 (assuming a decent 6 cell will be available for it)
    MSI Wind u120

    I tried the Samsung NC10 & HP before (friends of mine have it). Not as good as I expected. (Not even close to my U100)

    So, I think the U120 should be a better choice

  10. Jim Says:

    Why should I upgrade my new U100?
    Same screen
    Same space in HD
    Same wireless
    Same battery
    Same keyboard
    It is a hair heavier
    Same #USBs
    Same media card reader
    Same processor+speed
    Same memory
    No new software
    Same DVD/CD (as in none….an included matched external would be nice)


    It does have an upgraded mouse clicker, …WooHooo! A new clicker!
    There is absolutely nothing new/better offered in the u120 over the u100. Nothing.

  11. john laptop Says:

    i like this post. some good information.

  12. mellowmac Says:

    I am closely looking at the developments of the MSI U120 for deployment to our technical staff either as a main laptop or a secondary laptop for travel or diagnostic use. Definitely, what would push me to full deployment as the standard laptop for corporate use to replace all current laptops is the bigger screen that will occupy the entire width of the cover eliminating the bezel itself. Maybe 12″ perhaps, without increasing the size of the entire case. A bigger touchpad with a corresponding size increase in the clicker would also push it to be a more polished product worthy of corporate consideration. Maintaining the current price point will justify it as the new computer standard relevant to current business conditions.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Actually there are a few things that are different on the U120. Rather than an HD there is an SSD option which provides you with more security. There is also a 3.5G capability…..plus the clicker

  14. Ben Says:

    The best thing about the U120’s release is it made the U100 cheaper. The internal 3G is a very slight advantage but most ISPs provide a dongle. I think the glossy U100 looks better than the matte finish on the U120 but it’s just personal taste. Given the big discounts people are offering on the U100 now, I certainly wouldn’t pay an extra ~$150 for some very slight conveniences.

  15. brodders Says:

    The U120 will have 3G right? I suppose that one reason to upgrade….that and SSD..

  16. brodders Says:

    sorry already mentioned…

  17. brodders Says:

    What about 3.5G and SSD?

    *oh wait already been said*

  18. redstars Says:

    I think MSI U120 could be my next netbook. btw, nice review.

  19. Joe Says:

    The U120 review at Newegg indicates it cannot be easily upgraded to 2GB RAM like the U-100

  20. Dream Says:

    Yeah, Let me know how much it?

  21. toni Says:

    This is 2013 and I am still using my u120! I’ve made a couple of small changes and of course this isn’t my only computer but she’s still running strong! A hell of a lot better than the Asus EEE’s and those little HP’s =)

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