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Netbook boasts overclockable Atom

Jun 4, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

MSI has announced a low-cost “netbook” based on Intel's N270 Atom processor. The “Wind NB U100” includes a 10-inch display, 80GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, webcam, five-hour battery life, 802.11b/g, and Bluetooth wireless, and can be overclocked to 1.9GHz, according to the company.

(Click here for a larger view of MSI's Wind NB U100)

Like the Acer Aspire One, also announced this week, and Asus's two newly announced Eee PC models, the Wind NB U100 uses Intel's new 22mm x 22mm Atom N270 processor. It also uses Intel's 945GMS northbridge and ICH7M southbridge. Eschewing the flash storage employed by many other mini-laptops, the Wind NB U100 also includes a 80GB SATA hard disk drive and 1GB of RAM, expandable to 2GB via an available second DIMM slot.

MSI's Wind features ventilation holes and USB ports on its left side

The Wind's white, black, or pink case measures 10.23 inches wide, 7.1 inches deep, and has a maximum thickness of 1.25 inches. Including its standard six-cell battery — a three-cell version will also be available — the device weighs 2.3 pounds.

Mini-laptops are often criticized for their ergonomic limitations, but the Wind's keyboard is said to be “only 20 percent smaller than a full-sized keyboard, with keys spaced a comfortable 0.68 inches apart.” The device includes a 10-inch display with LED backlighting and 1024 x 600 resolution; MSI also touts a software utility that can magnify portions of the screen on command.

Like other N270-based devices, the Wind NB U100 normally runs at 1.6GHz. However, MSI has included a “TurboDrive” function that allows overclocking the CPU to 1.9GHz via a keyboard shortcut. It is also possible to throttle the processor down to 1.1GHz, in order to extend battery life. MSI claims the six-cell pack can operate the netbook for more than five hours.

The Wind has a gigabit Ethernet port, VGA output, and 4-in-1 card reader

The Wind has a 1.3 megapixel webcam, two internal speakers, a gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11b/g wireless networking, and Bluetooth 2.0. Other features include three USB ports, a VGA port, microphone input, headphone output, plus a reader that accepts SD, MMC, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro media.

Features and specifications listed by MDI for the Wind NB U100 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.6GHz
  • Memory — 512MB (Linux); 1GB (Windows XP); expandable to 2GB
  • Storage — 80GB SATA hard disk drive
  • Display — 10-inch display with 1024 x 600 resolution
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet
  • Wireless interfaces:
    • WLAN — 802.11b/g
    • WPAN — Bluetooth 2.0 (Windows XP only)

  • Other I/O:
    • 3 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x VGA
    • headphone output
    • microphone input

  • Expansion — card reader for SD, MMC, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro media
  • Battery type — three-cell or six-cell lithium-ion
  • Dimensions — 10.23 x 7.1 x 1.25 inches
  • Weight — 2.6 pounds

The Wind has scored some impressive early reviews. The British site, for example, wrote, “It won't suit anyone looking for a powerhouse portable, but for basic needs, this is as good as it currently gets.” Also in the UK, Mobile Computer magazine said “we reckon that it's the first low-cost ultraportable to deliver on all counts.” In the U.S., Laptop magazine wrote “this system's solid performance, stellar 5-plus hours of battery life, and $499 price make it the best all-around mini-notebook to date.”

Linux fans may feel slighted, however, because while the $500 Windows XP Home version is equipped as mentioned above, the $400 SUSE Linux-based version is comparatively stripped. It pares down RAM to 512MB, omits Bluetooth, and has the three-cell battery as standard.

Further information

According to MSI, the Windows version of the Wind will go on sale Jun. 16th. The Linux version will be available “later this summer.”

To see the review of the Wind, go here. To see the Mobile Computer review, go here. To see the Laptop review, go here.

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