MSI is about to start a new round of the "How Should We Define Netbooks?" debate with its new Wind U230 machines. The company is calling the 12-inch replacements for the Wind U210 netbooks, but they have awfully ultraportable-ish leanings.
To start, they have 12.1-inch screens -- not unheard of for netbooks, but rarer than the more typical 10-inch LCD. Then there's 2GB of RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium (instead of Starter), and, oh yeah, the dual-core processor inside. Not a dual-core Atom as we saw on the Eee PC 1201N, but an AMD chip coupled with an ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics card.
I can hear fights breaking out already. "Netbook!" "Notebook!" "Dessert Topping!" "Floor Wax!"
These new Winds, whatever they are, come in two models: the U230-033 has an AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 CPU and a 250GB hard drive; the U230-040 has an AMD Athlon X2 L335 CPU and a 320GB drive. Otherwise, the two models are identical from their HD displays (16:9, 1366 x 768 WXGA), b/g/n wi-fi, 1.3MP webcam and 6-cell batteries. And, of course, HDMI out amongst the usual ports.
Lest this sound too exciting, there's a fly in the ointment as concerns that battery: it's rated for only 4 hours of life by MSI. I imagine that size display combined with the power-hungry AMD chip makes for an ultraportable that won't want to stray too far from an outlet.
The MSI Wind U230-033 will set you back just $429 and the beefier Wind U230-040 ups the price to $479. They're available now at Newegg.