The MSI Wind will come in a couple of varieties. There's the low-cost Linux version (around £320), and the slightly more expensive Windows XP model (£363). Both have an identical specification -- a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU and 1GB of DDR2 667MHz memory -- upgradeable to 2GB. That might not sound like much in a world where clock speeds and memory quantities go far higher, but in our experience, this level of performance is fine in a netbook.
Disappointingly, the instant overclocking feature seen on early engineering samples has been removed from the final retail model. Instead, the laptop can still be instantly 'underclocked' to 800MHz by pressing the Fn and F10 buttons in conjunction.
Using the Wind is always a positive experience. The screen in particular is impressive -- it's sufficiently bright and the 1,024x600-pixel display is adequate for most purposes. The vertical viewing angle is shallow, but it's fine horizontally. People can sit side by side with a Wind, watch a movie and still be able to see what's going on. If you're anywhere near a projector -- or any large display -- you can output the video signal via the D-Sub port on the right side.
Storage in the Wind comes courtesy of an 80GB hard drive of the mechanical, moving parts variety. This provides enough room for around 20,000 MP3s or over 100 DivX movies, which is way more than the 40GB Eee PC 901 and 8GB Acer Aspire One. A solid-state option would have been nice, though. If nothing else, an SSD would have made the Wind less susceptible to data loss after an accidental fall. If you're the clumsy sort, you might want to bear this in mind.
More storage can be added via the SD card slot on the right side of the device. This will happily accept SDHC cards of up to 32GB, along with SD, MMC, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro. In addition, there are 3 USB ports. Two live in very close proximity of each other on the left, while the other sits adjacent to the SD card slot and mic and headphone ports.
The wireless connectivity on the Wind is merely average. Its Wi-Fi is of the 802.11b/g variety and it has Bluetooth. There's no 802.11n support, which would have allowed theoretical wireless speeds of up to 300Mbps. Also, there's no integrated 3G or WiMax capability -- as you get with an Acer Aspire One -- so you can't go online just anywhere. If you want to surf the Web with a Wind, you'll have to use it at home, at a hotspot or connect a third-party USB dongle.