Why I ordered an MSI Wind netbook

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I have a vacation to Treasure Island, Florida coming up at the first of October and I’ve decided that I don’t want to drag my heavy Macbook Pro with me on this trip. So, I’ve been considering gadget scenarios that will give me the ability to read / respond to email, web surf and offload digital camera pictures. Some of these scenarios included…

1. Use my iPhone for email / surfing and buy lots of extra SD cards for photos so that I won’t need to continually empty one or two to make room for more pix. I scratched this idea because using the touch keyboard on the iPhone will get old really fast with the number of emails I write every day. Surfing on the iPhone wouldn’t be bad, but I’d prefer a bigger screen. As for digital images, there will be three of us on this trip, so I figure we really should have a backup, just to be safe.

2. Use my Centro for email / surfing and buy lots of extra SD cards. Ditched this idea for the same reason I ditched the iPhone idea.

3. Use my Macbook Pro like I usually do on trips. Ummmm, nope. It’s too bulky and I want to travel a little smaller and lighter for this trip.

4. Buy lots of SD cards and don’t check email or surf for 6 days. ACK! This would probably cause me to die a slow painful death. Nuff said.

5. Buy a 2-3lb UMPC / Netbook / Sub-notebook / whatever the heck you want to call them. I’ve decided to go with this solution for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a great excuse to buy a new toy to play with. Secondly, it’s a good excuse to buy a new toy to play with. :o)

Tiny laptops aren’t new to me. I had bought myself one of the ASUS Eee PCs (701) but the tiny display and cramped keyboard caused me to turn my nose up at it and give it to Claire to review for me. I can be lazy that way ;o) Then I had the opportunity to review the HP Mini-note and really loved it, but had to send it back once the review was complete. I had briefly considered buying a MacBook Air, but they are way over priced and under powered, so it was a fleeting thought.

I ended up deciding on the MSI Wind netbook, but had a really hard time finding one with a 6 cell battery in stock. Even the 3 cell model is super hard find right now, but I lucked out and found a Black one (I really wanted plain White. Not the dorky White one with hearts…) with a 3 cell battery and a 120GB hard drive last night. I’ve ordered it and a 1GB RAM card to upgrade it to 2GB. Both should be here tomorrow. Yay! Now I will have lots of time before my trip to set it up the way I like. I’m even going to try putting OS X on it :o)

32 thoughts on “Why I ordered an MSI Wind netbook”

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  2. I just got my Kohjinsha SC3 netbook, and I’m waiting for the bigger battery. I have issues with it. For one thing, the print is really really small at normal resolution. For another, Windows Vista is hateful, and none of my legacy software likes it at all. It’s not nearly as small as my Sharp Zaurus or even my old HP palmtop. If only Tom Edison had invented the laptop we’d all be better off (how’s my review of the do-it-yourself Gakken wind-up phonograph coming, Julie?)


  3. Jeff:

    Sorry for the delay in getting your review up. I’ll have it up in the next few days. I’m in the process of knocking my own queue down to a more manageable level.

  4. Hi Julie,
    I just got the Acer Aspire One with Linux. I hear the MSI Wind is pretty similar. Acer just lowered the price of the Aspire One to $329. I love mine. I use it at all sorts of locations. These are so small and portable, but still very usable. The Aspire One came with Linux, which I have not used a lot, but I am getting used to it and I am surprised what I can run on it. I even got Skype loaded.

    Have a great vacation!


  5. Julie,

    Please let us know how this goes. I am going through the same ordeal for a year-long deployment…errr, trip to the desert. I am leaning towards a MacBook as I think it will last/survive a bit longer and I can flip back and forth between the OS I prefer and the OS my “company” uses.


  6. Julie: I’ve been a big fan of your site but never registered until I read about this MSI and OSX… Please let us know what you think of it.

  7. Andy:

    Thumbs up for Linux :o) Does the Acer have a 10 inch display? That is something that is pretty important to me. The Asus EEE PC had a smaller screen, so it wasn’t all that enjoyable as a web browsing device.

    Fuzzy & David:

    I’ll definitely keep everyone posted about my experiences with the MSI Wind and installing OS X on it. I’m going to follow Paul O’Brien’s guide.

  8. So, the options are:

    1. Use gadget(s) I already have.
    2. Use gadget(s) I already have.
    3. Use gadget(s) I already have.
    4. Use no gadgets.
    5. Buy a new gadget.

    Hmmm, what will Julie do? 😉

    [Edited at August 28, 2008 06:53:13 AM.]

  9. obscurestooge:

    It’s what did Julie ALREADY do that is the question, for which there is already an answer ;o)

    I just ordered a replacement WiFi card on eBay for the Wind… According to Paul’s OS X installation instructions, the installed WiFi card does not have OS X drivers.

    Paid $37 something with shipping. Pricier than going with some of the other eBay sellers, but this one is located here in the US instead of China. I figured I’d get it a lot faster…

  10. I had almost given up trying to find the ‘perfect’ netbook. I definitely don’t want Vista, but do need Microsoft Word and Excel. This one sounds great. Patiently waiting for your review.

  11. Funny that you ordered your MSI Wind on the same day I ordered an ASUS eee PC 1000H. I went with the 10 inch screen over the 9 inch version to give a little extra room in the screen and keyboard. Got it primarily for my wife to carry around the house and for us to take on trips and not have to lug around our laptops. Since my wife will primarily use it, and she is definitely a non-tech person, I went with the XP version. I’ve also got a 2 gb stick of RAM to upgrade the memory. I also liked the fact that the ASUS had an n wireless card. Looking forward to receiving it today and playing with it tonight.


    [Edited at August 28, 2008 08:53:13 AM.]

  12. Jackson:

    Have you considered trying OpenOffice? I use NeoOffice on my Macs and it works fine reading and editing Word and Excel documents.


    I’d thought about the ASUS 1000H, but read something about the location of the shift and arrow keys being a little funky. You’ll have to let us know what you think about it tonight :o)

  13. Julie,
    Concentrate on the vacation not the gadgets! Forget the email and enjoy Florida! Richard Raborn MD 3d generation Floridian

  14. I went to Best Buy on Sunday and bought the Acer Aspire One netbook with 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HD and XP Home. It runs everything I need to for work and travel, so I sold my Fujitsu P1510D and my older Toshiba laptop is up on Ebay right now. How much did this gem cost? $350. I’m getting the extended battery when it comes out. Finally, a notebook that doesn’t have the bells and whistles that just does what I need it to do and do it well, at a very low price.

  15. I just unboxed it, took some pix for the review and have it plugged in and charging. :o) Whee!

    So far I have $499 for the Wind, $24 for the Dell WiFi card (in anticipation for installing OS X on it) and $22 for the 1GB RAM card.

  16. My vacation notebook of choice is my MacBook:

    • It is the smallest laptop I have 🙂
    • I have Adobe Lightroom for photo processing at night at the hotel.
    • Prior to the trip, my kids use EyeTV 250 (the older version) to record a bunch of shows & movies to keep them amused at night
    • 13.3 inch is the smallest screen I want to use. Ideally, I want a 17-inch notebook that weights 3 pounds :-). Until that day, I have to find peace with my MacBook.
  17. Julie-

    I created an account to comment on this post. I bought a Wind a couple weeks ago, and couldn’t be happier! I had intended to install OSX to see how it runs, but haven’t done it yet. I got the XP version, but immediately downloaded and installed the Ubuntu wubi installer, and have a ‘wubi’ install which I run most of the time. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would like using Ubuntu full-time (my Pismo is now in semi-retirement–used for archiving email and for photography work (I shoot RAW with Canon–nothing touches Canon’s own software for quality). I’ve been so happy with Ubuntu (and everything works just fine, except sleep. I can’t get a proper suspend, but wifi works, sound works–everything else but sleep works great)

    If you find OSX too much of a bear to install, you might try Ubuntu.

    Also, I think your Wind has the internal formatted as two drives. Try installing OSX onto the D drive and see if you can’t have both OSes on there. 🙂


  18. Jon:

    Glad to have you!

    Right now, I’m just using the default configuration so I can do a review of the unit as is. Once I receive my replacement WiFi card, I’ll install that and put OSX on it. I’d like to try Ubuntu too. Why not right? :o)

    Yes, my Wind has two partitions C and D. I was reading someone’s instructions for installing OSX on the D partition and will probably try that so I can also keep XP.

  19. I was gonna get a 6-cell 10″ MSI Wind, but I came across an Acer Aspire One for only $300 (which was too good a deal to pass up).


    • Cheap
    • Only 2.1 pounds
    • At only 6.7 inches deep, it fits in my motorcycle tank bag
    • Linpus Linux boots in 12 seconds and is very nimble… even when running Open Office and Firefox3, it almost never touches the swap file (with only 512 MB RAM)
    • Easy to find tips/tricks at various AA1 forums
    • Came with plenty of software and it’s easy to install other apps
    • Bright, vibrant screen with excellent horizontal viewing angle
    • 1024×600 resolution is limited but far more usable than the EEE701’s 800×480
    • Opens up to almost 150 degrees with the 3-cell battery
    • Only consumes 7-11 Watts, depending on load and brightness
    • Charges quickly
    • Small power brick
    • OS is reasonably responsive and the CPU is fine for taking notes, editing office docs, web browsing (even with 10+ tabs), watching video (plays h.264 720×480 smoothly), some 3D and java games
    • Keyboard is large enough to be usable (much better than the Asus 70x/90x series)
    • Easily expandable: I added a 16GB class6 SDHC card for $35, bringing it to 24 GB storage space (plenty since its not my primary computer)
    • Since it’s SSD, there’s no HDD noise/vibration and I can toss it around with disregard.


    • Screen is a bit small
    • 1280×768 would better
    • 3 cell battery life is short (2.5-3 hours)
    • CPU is too slow for anything intensive
    • Webcam is low quality
    • Resuming from standby takes almost as long as booting
    • Speakers aren’t that loud and are on the bottom

    It being SSD was a big selling point to me; on my last business trip, I dropped my laptop backpack 3 feet, killing my MacBook Pro’s drive (it was in a padded compartment, but impacted at exactly the wrong spot/angle). It’s nice to not have to worry about that.

  20. Julie-
    Small laptops and UMPC are not that bad I carry a Fujitsu u810 Lifebook with me for work it replaced a very bulky Compaq laptop. I fix LED signs in the Boston area and find I have no problem with the small screen you get use to it and I kind of like not having a huge monster on my back

    ps I have installed Ubuntu on a separate partition you really should try it ts great.

  21. So far, I’m happy with the MSI Wind as far as the display. It’s big and bright. The only ‘problems’ I’ve run into are with the keyboard / trackpad and the battery life.

    The keyboard size is fine, but I seem to have an issue with pressing the up arrow when I want to press a period. I just probably need some more time getting used to it.

    The trackpad is quite annoying. It’s very sensitive. I had to track down (ha!) a driver for it so that I could turn off the tap to click feature. Doing that has made a significant improvement.

    Battery life with the 3 cell version of the Wind is pretty pathetic. I’m getting 1hr and 45 minutes per full charge. That’s just surfing via WiFi.

    More info and a full review soon….

  22. My Asus eee PC 1000h arrived on Friday so I played with it over the weekend and holiday and really love it. The screen is big and bright. I had no problems typing on it, even with my big fingers.

    The right shift key is at an odd location, but wasn’t a problem for me, since I use the left shift key to shift; however for users who use both shift keys, the location of the right shift key will be an issue (unless you use a third party program to change the location).

    Battery life is great, with a 6 cell battery on the 1000h. I ran it through a couple of cycles and got about 5 hours each time.

    The trackpad worked welll for me, with various multi-touch options. I also used a notebook mouse part of the time (Logitech vx nano).

    Installed an extra gb of Ram to take it to 2 gb. Very easy to do on the 1000h–two screws to open a door on the back exposing the hd, wi-fi card, and ram. Took about 30 seconds.

    XP runs smoothly on it with no issues. Wi-fi connected right up to my home network without any issues.

    But the biggest advantage was how easy it was to carry around the house and use wherever I wanted to use it. Yesterday I popped it into my pool bag and took it to the pool and used it there–so much easier than lugging my laptop.

    For me, I’ve seen the light, and I believe netbooks are going to be the wave of the future!

  23. Guy:

    Does upgrading your RAM void the warranty? I think it does for the MSI Wind…

    I wish the trackpad on the Wind had multi-touch. You’re supposed to be able to run your finger down the right side of the pad to scroll. It doesn’t work worth a hooey though…

    So, are you going to try some other operating systems on your ASUS? :o)

  24. Upgrading the RAM doesn’t void the warranty on the eee PC, but I believe it may on the Wind, and I believe I remember it’s a lot harder to upgrade ram on the Wind.

    Don’t know if it’s possible to install third party drivers on the Wind to enable multi-touch.

    I’ll stick with XP on the Asus. Got it primarily for my spouse to use around the house. My main machine is a Macbook Pro 17 inch laptop, which I love and wouldn’t trade for the world for normal use.

  25. Guy:

    I think the warranty is voided on the Wind to install ram. There’s a small sticker over one of the screws that you have to remove in order to take of the whole bottom of the laptop.

    No luck with multi-touch with the trackpad on the Wind… they aren’t using Synaptics. They are using another brand.

  26. I bought an Eee , great for email and the internet – loved it so decided to install Linux on my old Sony V505CP laptop – love Linux even more. Ubuntu 8.04.1 connected to my home wireless set up with out a problem although an ealier version would not recognise the drivers.

    I am using Lotus Symphony on my Sony Desktop Replacement (XP) as I was a Lotus Smart Suite user. I have now downloaded the Linux version for the V505CP. Symphony will also open MS word documents, excel etc.

    Eee is on its way to my sister. I would like a small lightweight notebook for when I travel (running Linux) that I can do some simple photo viewing and editing on, is WIND a possibility? I have also looked at the HP mini.
    I look forward to your WIND review Julie.

  27. >I wish the trackpad on the Wind had multi-touch. You’re supposed to be able to run your finger down the right side of the pad to scroll. It doesn’t work worth a hooey though…

    Not all Winds have the same trackpad. the 6-cell model has the non-Synaptics-based track pad, but supposedly, all the 3-cells have the Synaptics pad. On Ubuntu, I’ve got scrolling working fine with my Synaptics track pad–horizontal, too. 🙂


  28. Jon:

    I have the 3 cell Wind and apparently do NOT have the Synaptics pad. I first tried installing the Synaptics driver from their website, but it did not recognize the touchpad. Then I installed the Sentelic driver and it worked…

  29. Yuck about the trackpad. I guess it’s more later models are getting this second-rate touchpad. Sorry to hear you got the bum one.


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