Reviews  

MSI Wind U160DX

Eric Ernest 2011-07-09
83 Very Good
Price: Rs 17,900

Full Review

MSI's Wind U160DX netbook, which comes updated with Intel's dual-core Atom N550 1.5-GHz processor and DDR3 RAM, is the successor to the MSI Wind U160.


Design

This MSI netbook looks similar to its predecessor, the MSI Wind U160 netbook, especially it's characteristic battery bulge on the back of the hinge. The netbook has a good build quality, and comes in a slim form factor. The 10-inch MSI Wind U160DX netbook weighs 1 kg and comes with a six-cell battery.

The netbook's screen lid has coffee brown shading and has an MSI logo located on the right side, which lights up once the netbook starts up. The interior of the netbook - screen bezel, keyboard deck, palmrest - has a pale metallic gold colouring. The display hinge and the battery have a silver appearance. If you're not a fan of the netbook's 'bling' look, the MSI Wind U160DX also comes in a black shade. 



Features

The MSI netbook comes with a 10-inch LED backlit screen. The glossy screen supports a maximum resolution of 1024x600, and is bright enough that you can view both text and video comfortably in both indoor and, to a lesser extent, outdoor conditions. 

The chiclet styled keyboard is comfortable to type on and the keys - a total of 83 - are well spaced. While the small granulated touchpad is very sensitive to the touch in a good way, the grainy texture might put you off initially. Having said that, the granulated texture of this touchpad helps the user intuitively differentiate the scrolling area from it's surroundings. It would have been helpful if the touchpad featured a multi-touch function - working with images or scrolling through long pages would have been that much easier.



The battery, connected to the netbook's horizontal spine, doubles up as a kind of stand allowing for the netbook to be used at a slight elevation. This feature is very helpful for typing, especially when the netbook is placed on a flat surface such as a table. However the rubber stands/legs under the battery can be an irritant when you are using the netbook on your lap.

The power button is located to the right side of the hinge. There is a 1.3-megapixel (MP) webcam placed at the top section of the screen bezel. The speakers are located at the front base of the netbook chassis.

Hardware

The MSI Wind comes with a configuration that features Intel's dual-core Atom N550 1.5-GHz processor, Intel Tiger Point chipset, 1 GB DDR3 RAM, Intel GMA 3150 graphics and a 250 GB 5400-RPM hard drive.



As far as the connectivity options are concerned, the U160DX comes with a memory card reader, 3 USB 2.0 ports, VGA port and audio jacks placed on the sides of the netbook chassis. The Wind U160DX doesn't have Gigabit Ethernet - it has 100Mbit Wired Ethernet, but it does come with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. 



There is a handy 'Wireless network toggle' located on the left side of the netbook chassis. The netbook comes pre-installed with the 64-bit Windows 7 Starter Edition operating system.

More details can be seen on this review's "Specifications" page. Except for the newer processor and RAM, there are no hardware changes in this netbook to really differentiate it from its predecessor, the MSI Wind U160.

Software

The Netbook comes with a decent software bundle. It includes the MSI Burn Recovery, and MSI EasyFace Logon. Other software include the Arc Soft web cam companion, Arc Soft print creations, Arc Soft Magic-I Visual Effects 2, and Norton Internet Security.

Performance

The MSI U160DX scored 31 points on the WorldBench 6 benchmark, as expected of a standard netbook. Running simultaneous activities like browsing the net and listening to music didn't seem to trouble the MSI netbook. After all, activities like browsing the web, writing documents, listening to music, viewing photos and watching videos are what a netbook was intended to be used for.

Watching YouTube videos was fine and the same goes for viewing 480p videos streamed from the same site. However the netbook couldn’t quite handle playing 720p HD videos. Considering that this is a netbook, this was expected and should not be a cause of concern. Similarly gaming on this netbook is also not a wise option, if an option at all - I guess if you're into retro games, there is still some hope.

Throughout the synthetic tests, the netbook made almost no noise and did a good job of keeping itself cool. The sound output from the audio system is loud, however the clarity isn’t great. Plugging in an earphone would be the wise choice, rather than relying on the speaker system. The netbook's six-cell battery lasted for over 6 hours, through our battery benchmark tests run at high performance battery mode, and full screen brightness - a very good statistic indeed.

Upgradability

If you're looking to upgrade the netbook's memory, the Wind U160DX has a removable cover that lets you easily access the RAM slot at the base. On opening the cover however, it was disappointing to find that only one RAM module is usable on its single slot.

Bottom Line

The cost of the unit we tested is Rs. 17,900. While the Wind U160DX is not the cheapest netbook out there, the Dual core Atom processor and DDR 3 memory are reasons enough to justify that price.

There's nothing really feature wise that makes this netbook stand out, except probably the battery. At the same time, there really is not that much we can find at fault with this MSI netbook. If your main activities are geared towards browsing the Web, social networking, listening to music, and reading and editing documents, then you should definitely check this netbook.

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