While testing and using the MSI Wind12 U230, we found we had a number of mixed feelings. We first must commend MSI for offering a netbook featuring the AMD Athlon Neo X2 L335 processor and the AMD ‘Congo’ platform. It definitely brought some excitement back in the netbook market as this chip is a viable competitor to the dual core Intel Atom counter-parts. The only thing is we wish it had a little less power consumption when put under any kind of load in order to lengthen the system’s precious battery life. When it comes to netbooks, battery life is often more important than performance. So even though we were very impressed with the U230’s dominating performance, we wanted to see the best of both worlds with a little longer battery life.
That being said, comparing the ASUS Eee PC 1201N’s dual core Intel Atom 330 with the MSI Wind U230’s AMD Athlon Neo X2 L335, we saw similar battery life at idle, with a little less length while watching a movie. However, we must point out that the U230 does meet our mobile battery life requirement of at least being able to watch a full feature length movie off a single battery charge and with 3 hours of DVD playback time, the U230 will handle just about any movie you want to watch while on the road or in the air.
Another mixed emotion we had with the MSI Wind U230 was the issue of how far back the LCD could extend. We found that in order for the U230 to be usable, you must be sitting in front of it. We often find ourselves just standing around a table with a group of friends and showing them something on our laptop and being able to fully extend our LCD so it is viewable while standing nearly above it is a capability we have seen on most any of our notebooks used to date. With the MSI Wind U230, you must be sitting or kneeling in front of it since the LCD does not open nearly far enough to stand above it and view the LCD.
Overall, the MSI Wind U230 is a great netbook with a solid construction feel that we like to see in any notebook. The adoption to 12.1″ LCD screen is something we have seen evolve over the past year from the previously standard 10″ screen size on netbooks. The market seems to have demanded a 12″ netbook and companies like MSI have answered the call. At this time, the U230 is listed around $479.99 which is around $100 more than an Intel Atom-based 10″ model. Users will need to determine what is more important to them in the 12″ dual core netbook arena as for roughly the same price, the ASUS Eee PC 1201N features NVIDIA ION graphics which performs much better than the ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics found on the MSI Wind12 U230. This is the beauty of competition as consumers now have the choice between better processing power or better graphics depending on how they plan on using their 12″ netbooks.
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI Wind12 U230 netbook uses the often overlooked AMD Athlon Neo X2 dual core processor which is a great performer when compared to the Intel Atom 330 without sacrificing too much battery life. MSI has a great implementation of this AMD processor in the U230 and is deserving of the LR Innovation Award for stepping outside of the Intel Atom comfort zone so many netbook manufacturers are in!