Review: MSI Wind Netbook

I suppose there are two schools of thought about laptops: that they should be as lightweight and as small as possible, capable of basic tasks, and thus work in tandem with much more powerful desktop computers. Alternatively, a laptop can be a complete replacement for a desktop computer, with a large screen and full-size keyboard.  The greatest price paid for the latter is, in my opinion, its significant weight (although the size is a close runner-up).

I much prefer smaller machines, as I do not trust even the “best” laptop screens to be completely color accurate, even after calibration with some of the best software and hardware on the market.  Instead, I would rather edit in the field and come home for toning and final processing on my 24″ monitor of choice, the HP 2475w.

This past June, as part of my preparation to travel to the Galapagos Islands with my dad on an Arthur Morris-led trip, I purchased an MSI Wind U100 “netbook” for only $299.  While I own a relatively compact laptop that weighs in at 5 pounds, I wanted to minimize weight as much as possible, especially as I did not expect to have enough time to do more than a basic edit of my shoots in the Galapagos using Breeze Browser.

The MSI Wind U100 is compact at 10.25 x 7.125 x 1.125″ and weighs 2.8 pounds with its standard battery.  It features a wonderful 10″ anti-glare screen that is also very bright and easy to read both indoors and, shockingly, outdoors.  My Wind came with a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, a 160gb hard drive and 1gb RAM.  My Wind does not have built-in Bluetooth, but I purchased a cheap USB adapter on eBay that seems to be working just fine with my Bluetooth mouse.  As the Wind comes with three USB ports, sacrificing one for this purpose is not a great deal for me.  However, more expensive models include built-in Bluetooth.

I added a second gigabyte of RAM for only $14 at NewEgg, although installing it invalidated the warranty.  This is undoubtedly the low-point of this netbook: the warranty should not have to be forfeited for the ability to modify the internal hardware.  Other manufacturers add separate ports on the bottom of their laptops to access crucial places like the hard drive and RAM.  However, I am comfortable living with this weakness as the overall strengths of the netbook are significant.

The MSI Wind boots quickly into Windows XP and is an ideal station for, well, “net” browsing and e-mail.  Combined with software like Breeze Browser, or similar products like Photo Mechanic, I have to say that this is a very capable photo editing platform.  Keep in mind that I am using “editing” in the sense of going through all of the images from a shoot and selecting the best–I am now going through these selects on my desktop and toning them.

For such a lightweight and economical laptop ($299), I have found it to be completely indispensable and will be a part of my photography kit for the foreseeable future.

If you find this review useful and choose to buy the MSI Wind for yourself, I would greatly appreciate  your making the purchase through my links to

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