Netbooks traditionally fall into the realm of cheap looking and cheap feeling, and are effectively a low-price equivalent of a laptop, but the MSI Wind U160 looks a lot sleeker and more professional than the older MSI netbooks. There is a premium for this new look, as the U160 is priced at £330, which is a good £50 more than MSI's similar U135 model that only lacks the swish design.
New design; thinner build; better keyboard.
Lacks the bells and whistles of similar netbooks; larger base than quoted; bulky battery addition; bulky screen hinge; premium cost.
Intel Atom N450 1.66GHz processor, 1GB DDR2 667 TAM, 160GB hard drive, Windows 7 Starter, 10in 1,024 x 600 WSVGA LED screen, 1.3-megapixel webcam, SD, MMC, VGA, USB 2.0, Mic-in, headphone, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
MSI's latest netbook, the U160, boasts a new design for the company's Wind line of affordable sub-notebook computers, while heralding its second Intel Pine Trail netbook model.
The U160 was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The new build is much slimmer and sleeker than the bulkier netbooks of MSI's existing Wind range, which haven't changed in design since 2008. The U160 is only 1in thick with the screen closed, and its dimensions are 265mm x 165mm x 19.8mm with the screen open.
However, the footprint with the battery included is actually 195mm in depth, adding a lot to the size and even raising the rear of the netbook a good 15mm off a flat surface.
MSI has traditionally included the battery discreetly within its netbooks, but this design looks a lot like a step backwards, and adds a large protrusion to the back end.
The U160 appears to have the same specifications as the U135 that we reviewed earlier this year, although we've been informed that the PCB design is entirely different. MSI has run with the same Intel Pine Trail NM10 chipset and Atom 1.66GHz N450 processor as featured in its earlier netbook, and this combination handled most tasks we threw at it quite well in our previous review.
The 10.1in screen accompanying the U160 is very slim, measuring only 5mm thick, and is a far cry from the larger and bulkier displays in MSI's existing range. The colours are much sharper than we had come to expect from a basic netbook, showing that build quality certainly has moved on from the cheaper materials used in earlier models.
The screen is mounted on the base of the netbook with a cylindrical hinge, which MSI claims is a unique design, although we've seen the same layout on the Sony R series laptops. Displays such as these are usually mounted somewhat lower than the keyboard, making it ideal for confined spaces such as on planes or trains.
This isn't the case here, however, as the display is mounted a few millimetres above the keyboard and behind the base, which actually makes for a deeper than expected netbook at 185mm.