MSI Wind U135, the chunkier netbook cousin to the Asus 1005PE

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This article appeared in the June, 2010 issue of CRN magazine.

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MSI Wind U135, the chunkier netbook cousin to the Asus 1005PE

The MSI Wind U135 looks like a chunkier cousin to the Asus 1005PE, but it actually weighs the same. Its mass is concentrated more toward the hinge, though, giving the device a tendency to topple over backwards when nudged.

The keyboard isn't perfect either. It's wide enough to touch type on, and has enough travel to keep finger fatigue at bay; but the keys themselves are flat and hard, and when you're typing fast the backplate becomes noticeably squidgy.

The U135 does have its merits. The screen resolution may be only the expected 1024 x 600, but the panel is bright, and - once we'd tweaked the gamma with Windows 7's monitor calibration tool - the contrast was excellent, with solid blacks and vivid colours. It's also one of the few netbooks to support Memory Stick and xD media - a definite plus if your digital camera isn't SD-friendly.

Another unique feature is the integrated 1.3-megapixel camera, a big step up from the 0.3-megapixel units found in competing models. Not everyone needs a webcam, of course, but if you do it's another plus for the MSI.

Beyond these specific niceties, though, nothing sets this particular netbook apart from the crowd. Its Atom N450 CPU, 1GB of RAM and 250GB hard disk are standard fare, and battery life is a little behind the group average.

The MSI U135 is one of the cheapest options here, so if the screen, camera or card reader appeal it's still worth considering. But, if you don't need those particular features, the Asus 1005PE offers longer battery life and a more stable design at a similar price.

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