MSI Wind U120 Netbook
MSI's Wind U120 netbook: fast, good-looking, and comfortable to use.
- Fast, bright screen, comfortable to type on, 5400rpm hard drive, runs cool and is relatively quiet
- Poor balance, period and comma keys are too small
The MSI Wind U120 netbook looks good, performs as expected, has a good amount of connectivity, and its keyboard is close to perfect. We only wish the period and comma keys were bigger and that the balance of the unit was better. If you can live with the poor balance and undersized period and comma keys, then there's no reason why you should not buy this netbook.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
There's no doubt the Windows XP-based MSI Wind U120 netbook looks good. Its white lid and palm-rest contrast beautifully with the glossy black bezel of the screen and the matte black base; but the Wind U120 offers more than just good looks. You get plenty of useful features, good battery life, and an ultraportable notebook that's easy to use.
The MSI Wind U120 is 26.2cm wide, 18cm deep and 4.1cm at its thickest point. It has a non-glossy 10.2in screen with LED backlighting. Because it isn't reflective, you can view the screen in an office environment without having to constantly adjust the angle of the screen to avoid reflections from lights, and it's also bright enough to be used outdoors on a sunny day. Its viewing angles from the side and from the top are adequate. Since the screen is so small (as is the netbook as a whole), you're probably not likely to view it from anywhere but directly in front anyway.
Its keyboard is one of the most comfortable we've ever used on a netbook (including the HP Mini 1001TU). Its keys are 17mm wide, and it would be perfect if not for the undersized period and comma keys. MSI has squished them so that it could also include aligned arrow keys, and has left an annoying blank space to the right of the up arrow key as a result. Every time we mishit the period key, we'd stare at this spare space on the keyboard and wonder whether MSI might have been better to move the up arrow key just one spot over (over the right arrow key) in order to give the more commonly used period and comma keys more space. Either way, you do get used to the small keys; most touch-typists probably won't have a problem adjusting.
We love the touchpad, which is also very roomy (it measures 55x40mm) and has individually moulded plastic for the left- and right-click buttons. They are easy to press and perfectly positioned.
The MSI Wind U120 has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. It's a 2.5in hard drive, which is the same as a conventional notebook drive, and it spins at 5400rpm. Despite having moving parts, it barely makes a peep inside the Wind U120's base. It also doesn't emit too much heat. We love the fact that MSI has partitioned the disk so that you can manage your data more efficiently should you ever want to replace Windows XP with Vista or a flavour of Linux. If you do want to put Linux on the Wind U120, the forums at MSIWind.net have plenty of tips and information on where to get drivers.
In our performance tests, the MSI Wind U120 was fast. Its hard drive recorded a transfer speed of 20 megabytes per second, and its CPU took 7min 58sec to convert 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. This is on par with the HP Mini 1001TU. You'll be able to use the MSI Wind U120 for Web browsing, watching videos, listening to music, and even for some limited photo editing; but it can be tiring to crop a series of 10-megapixel images on its small screen, for example.
While the MSI Wind U120 is a slight departure in design compared to the original Wind, one annoying design aspect remains: poor balance. The MSI Wind U120 is top heavy. When you lean the screen back, it tends to want to tip backwards, which means you need to be careful when taking your hands off the netbook while using it on your lap or on the edge of the couch, for example (we almost ended up doing some inadvertent drop testing).
After prolonged use, the Wind U120 gets only slightly warm. This means it is comfortable to use on your lap for long periods of time. This has a lot to do with the large number of vent holes on the base. Some warmth rises up through the palm-rest, but again it's not hot enough to be uncomfortable. If you use the netbook at night, you might be annoyed by the extraction fan, which sits on the left-hand side and keeps the CPU cool — and you'll definitely be annoyed by the overly bright power LED (although it's a little less powerful than the LEDs on the HP Mini 101TU), which sits just above the keyboard's delete key. The status LEDs on the front of the unit are a little more subdued.
For security, you can either settle for Windows XP's login password or you can enable the supplied face-recognition software, which can log you in by scanning your face. It doesn't work in low-light environments, but it worked fine when the room lights were on. It takes longer to identify you when you are in an environment with different lighting compared to where you took the reference photo of yourself. It's a useful feature to have when you want to save yourself a few keystrokes during boot-up.
The number of ports you get on the MSI Wind U120 is good for a netbook; there are three USB 2.0 ports, a D-Sub port for an external monitor, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and an SD card slot. You also get built-in 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The U120 has a SIM card reader in its battery compartment, but no actual modem. If you want a built-in 3G modem, you'll have to opt for the MSI Wind U120/h or the MSI Wind U123.
In our battery rundown test, the MSI Wind U120's 4400mAh (milliampere hour) battery lasted exactly three hours. We ran down the battery by looping an Xvid-encoded video with the screen brightness all the way and the power profile set to 'performance'. The result indicates the Wind U120 netbook is a good unit for watching movies while on the road.
In our view the MSI Wind U120 is a hard netbook to pass up. It looks good, performs as expected, has a good amount of connectivity, and its keyboard is close to perfect. We only wish the period and comma keys were bigger and that the balance of the unit was better. If you can live with the poor balance and undersized period and comma keys, then there's no reason why you should not buy this netbook.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Windows 10's power-throttling feature will benefit battery-hungry laptops
- Microsoft's next Surface may be a Chromebook competitor for schools
- US says laptop ban may expand to more airports
- Intel's Cannonlake PC chip shipments may slip into next year
- Razer’s updated Blade Pro is the first ever THX-certified laptop
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- TPSenior Business Analyst - GISQLD
- FTSenior Business AnalystNSW
- CCTibco Integration Specialist l Port MacquarieNSW
- TPFront-End DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Change ManagerQLD
- CCSecurity Specialist - NV1ACT
- CCSAP CRM Functional AnalystVIC
- FTSecurity Support Manager - Perth BasedNSW
- TPEOI - Developer/Tester/Software EngineerACT
- TPSystem AdministratorQLD
- FTService Delivery ManagerNSW
- FTFront End Web DeveloperACT
- CCProgram CoordinatorVIC
- CCIT End to End UX Designer.VIC
- FTICT Contract AnalystWA
- CCSecurity ConsultantVIC
- FTSystems Administrator - TelecommunicationsNSW
- CCTibco Integration Specialist l Port MacquarieNSW
- CCSenior Project OfficerNSW
- FTService Delivery AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Infrastructure Project ManagerNSW
- FTSystems Development Assistant Team LeadNSW
- FTSenior / Lead iOS DeveloperNSW
- CCSAP Business Finance LeadQLD
- TPSenior Project ManagerQLD