When testing a netbook it is important to keep it realistic. These machines are not used for video editing or for gaming with demanding engines, they are general ‘all round’ portable units used for surfing, email, chatting and office work. First let us discuss our general findings with the system over the last 2 weeks.
For a unit costing under £350 we find the MSI is a very attractive proposition, after all it has a 10 inch LED backlit screen which we found to be one of the better units in this class. It has plenty of colour clarity, a decent level of contrast and is easy to read in darkness and in moderate daylight. In intense daylight however or with a light behind you, the gloss screen can be somewhat distracting with it’s highly reflective surface.
Sadly we also found viewing angles to be less than stellar and colour depth also lowered significantly when viewed from anything less than ‘head on’. It is not poor by any means but compared with the Sony machines at this size it shows some limitations. Obviously this is tied into the modest asking price, but its worth a mention regardless. 1024×600 resolution is also rather difficult to live with if you move from simple browsing and email to even entry level picture editing in Photoshop.
In regards to audio the speaker system is rather feeble but our expectations were not dashed, as we never expect these to sound impressive anyway. Its only when you move into the high end Alienware machines or Apple’s 17 inch Macbook pro that the sound even gets remotely appealing.
The keyboard as we discussed in more detail on the last page is very good and only those people with bigger hands or fat fingers will have an issue when trying to maintain an optimum typing rate.
The U160 remains fairly cool at all times, however if you are watching a 720p movie and load the CPU for a long time, the underside can get warm to the touch, it never gets ‘pant scalding’ mind you, but warms up just enough that you realise this thing is working hard to keep you entertained. We will look at noise levels on the coming pages.
For those interested, we have included the Windows 7 built in benchmark scores. The hard drive is the highest performing device in the unit. however obviously with onboard graphics and an Atom processor this number is significantly lowered.
There are a fairly large number of applications pre-installed such as the complete ArcSoft Print Creations suite and Norton Internet Security, which is a trial. Personally I would be through this system with a registry editor after deinstalling two thirds of the preinstalled software, but for the average punter some of these applications would be useful.