Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 11 seconds

Is “good enough, and cheap” taking over for “I’m a professional and I need the very best tools”? Does the economy of 2009 mean that much change in our habits? I’m experimenting today.

As many of you know, I spend 125 days traveling every year --- that’s a lot of airplanes, a lot of hotels, and a lot of laptop lugging. Well this trip, instead of carrying my beloved MacBook Pro (a gorgeous piece of corporate jewelry with all the horsepower and flexibility one could ever want) I have a little 2 pound wonder that sells for about 1/10th of the cost of the MacBook Pro. Today I’m sitting on an airplane with a $325 MSI Wind netbook. I saw this device in January at CES and was instantly taken (like thousands of others) by its diminutive size. Will the combination of dirt cheap, super convenient sizing and just over adequate performance be a hit? Time will tell. I’ll know more in a few days.

The Wind, like most of its genre’, has a footprint slightly smaller than a standard sheet of office paper, 8 ½” x 11” and is less than ¾” think. The keyboard, admittedly cramped, is certainly adequate for the light email and Web browsing use for which it’s designed.  The first thing I did with mine was dump XP and install Windows 7. That’s when I discovered the first drawback – no optical drive.

Upon reflection I wonder about the drawback. Is it really? How often have I used the optical drive in that high-priced MacBook? Darn little. Yet I carry around its weight (and its cost) every day. So, as a trade-off for cheap and light, I’m OK. This netbook has an Intel Atom processor, 1 GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, a webcam, WiFi, and 3 USB ports. The graphics card does video just fine on the 10.1” screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. Certainly no match for the order of magnitude more expensive MacBook --- but hey, there are trade-offs in life. The only other trade off worth mentioning is the 3 cell battery --- it has a life of barely 90 minutes.

Here’s the bottom line: after a quick 48-hour road trip I’m willing to tell you that these new netbooks, the MSI Wind specifically, but the genre in general, are most definitely worth a look. If you travel from time to time they’re very handy. Mine now has a new home --- in the old magazine rack in my living room. It’s small enough to escape my wife’s “decorator eye” and certainly sufficient for email and web-surfing while watching television.

www.MSIWind.com

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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