Always on the hunt for new toys, and primarily a replacement for my 12-inch PowerBook. I had been keeping my eye on the netbook front for the last month or so. Initially I was really tempted to wait for the Asus Eee PC 901 or 1000H, but then through the forums I heard of the MSI Wind U100. This little 10-inch screen notebook looked superb. The term being touted is 'Netbook' due to it being ideally suited to surfing and emails, with the odd office task.
A slideshow of this little netbook can be viewed at the bottom of this review.
Anyway, the MSI model seemed to be so hard to get hold of. Then the Advent 4211 appeared on the PC World website. It was a rebadge, sourced and manufactured by MSI, so really just a different colour Wind, except at £279 it is cheaper. The box is tiny and hides this little laptop inside. The laptop itself is very solid and has a nice build to it. The lid that houses the screen has very little flex which is encouraging. The screen itself is very hard, pressing a little causes no ripples, so it seems very robust. The battery is a slimline 3-cell, which proves a bit hard to fit and remove, but a snug fit, which does not protrude from the base of the laptop at all.
The keyboard feels nice and responsive, with the keys have just the right amount of travel. Size is good too, comparing to a full size notebook it is almost the same, just a bit more compact. The symbols on the keys are nice and clear too.
On first start up, you are asked a few set-up questions, but it lets you get underway with Windows XP SP3 pretty fast. I was certainly up and running within about five minutes. The only problem I have experienced is getting it to recognise my wireless network, but I am sure I will sort that out.
In use the screen is very crisp and clear. The backlighting seems very even and the brightness is pretty darn impressive. Normally my experience of PC laptops is that the screen never goes as bright as I would like. The Advent 4211 is the first that I have to say I am happy with. A white page is as it should be, white and not grey. After an hours use, the system is running very quietly. I created a restore backup following the instructions, using an SD card. This tooks about 12 minutes, and I suggest you do the same, as it means you have a copy of all the drivers you need too. Overall, the Advent 4211 has impressed. The trackpad is a little small, but again you will get used to it. If you need something really portable thought, then pop into a PC World and take a look. You will be surprised at what £279 gets you. For such a compact package, you can really get truly mobile, with the addition for a PAYG or contract mobile (such as the great offers from Three), you can add mobile broadband easily to this tiny package.
*UPDATE* I am happy to confirm that after an official BIOS update and updating the network card driver, the wi-fi connection is now OK and very stable.